- - Thursday, December 22, 2011

Although November was the slowest month for area home sales since January, it was the best November we’ve seen in five years. Sales of existing homes in November were up 7 percent over November 2010. Total sales for the first 11 months of the year reached 81,000, an increase of 15 percent over last year.

As always, things are even more interesting when you break down the region into smaller parts. November sales were flat in Virginia, while sales jumped 14 percent in Maryland. Sales continue to be very good in Prince George’s County - up 30 percent over November 2010.

The Baltimore area also has been quite strong this year. Baltimore County, the state’s third-largest market, has seen sales increase by 19 percent this year. The city of Baltimore has enjoyed a 16 percent jump in sales.

Meanwhile, in the region’s largest real estate market, Fairfax County, sales are down by 5 percent. The shift in sales eastward over the Potomac is especially dramatic when you compare Fairfax and Prince George’s counties.

In November 2008, Fairfax was enjoying a resurgence of buyer activity spurred by lower prices. But sales in Prince George’s were very low because prices had not yet hit bottom there. Just 337 homes were sold in Prince George’s County in November 2008, one-third of Fairfax’s 995 sales that month.

Since then, sales in Fairfax have remained rather steady every year while Prince George’s County has seen an annual increase in buyer activity fueled in part by prices that continued to drop. Last month, Fairfax beat Prince George’s by just 57 sales.

Prices are not the only thing that motivates buyers. If that were the case, sales in the District wouldn’t be up 8 percent this year. Despite a median price of $395,000, nearly 7,000 homes were sold in the District from January through November. That’s the best year since 2007.

Still, I’m sure the median price of just $94,000 in Baltimore has something to do with that city’s strong sales activity this year.

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