- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2010

Last month wasn’t a climactic end to the 2009 real estate market, but it was a satisfying one.

Although December was the slowest sales month of 2009, it still managed to beat December 2008 by 1 percent. More importantly, last month capped off the best real estate year the Washington region has seen since 2005.

What does “best” mean? A few things, really.

Sales in 2009 were higher than in the three previous years. Buyers are out there buying homes once again. ln most jurisdictions, 2009 sales beat 2008 by double digits, and they put 2007 to shame.

PDF: Charting the market

Homes also were selling more quickly. Homes sold in December spent less time on the market than in 2008 or 2007. Prince William County was the most dramatic case, with an average of only 36 days on the market for homes sold in December - compared to 107 days in December 2008.

Prices are a more subjective issue. Sales prices were significantly higher in 2005 than they were last year, so if you were a seller last year you might not agree that 2009 was all that great. But last year’s prices were quite a bit better than they were in 2008, especially in Virginia. In December, the median sales price was up 15 percent in Loudoun, 30 percent in Arlington and 33 percent in Prince William County.

The final statistic I’ll mention is home listings. This is the tally of how many properties were listed with area Realtors. Just over 118,000 homes were listed last year, compared with 143,500 in 2008 and a whopping 182,600 in 2006.

Listings are significant, because that tidal wave of listings in 2006 caused much of the suffering in 2007 and 2008.

Now that the number of listings has fallen and sales have improved, we are in a much better position for a stable, sane and healthy real estate market.

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