- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2010

When I reported on Washington home sales for the first half of 2010, things were pretty good. Sales during the first six months of the year beat sales in the first half of 2009 by 600 homes.

You’ll remember, however, that March and April of this year were unusually busy months as folks tried to take advantage of the expiring federal tax credits. Just look at today’s fever chart to see how sales spiked during those two months.

So if we were slightly ahead of 2009 sales at the end of June, where do we stand once the third-quarter statistics are added in?

It’s not so good. After those tax credits went away, sales dropped sharply. Total sales for the first nine months of 2010 were about 70,500, compared to nearly 75,000 sales in 2009.

That drop in sales is entirely the fault of the Virginia side of the market. Sales in Maryland are up by 1,500 homes over 2009, while sales in Virginia are lower by 6,200 homes. Yikes.

Here’s what happened: During the first three quarters of 2009, Virginia outsold Maryland by 10,000 homes. Buyers and investors were flocking to buy the affordable homes in counties such as Prince William. Home prices there had plummeted when foreclosures had flooded the market, and buyers responded enthusiastically.

Then, prices in Prince William began to rise again, and buyer interest waned there and in the rest of Northern Virginia.

The same events are unfolding in Prince George’s County just a year later. Foreclosures pushed prices down in Prince George’s, and they haven’t come back up yet. So this year’s buyers have been more active and are pushing sales figures up in Prince George’s and Charles counties.

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