- - Thursday, June 2, 2011

How are home prices doing in the Washington area? It’s a question many people are asking, although much of what you hear from the media deals with the nation as a whole. That’s not very helpful because we don’t live in Detroit or Las Vegas or Florida, do we?

The truth is, home sales are much better here than in the rest of the nation. If you want prices to recover, you look first for improving sales, and our sales have been bouncing back for more than two years.

That’s why prices don’t appear to be falling anymore in most of the region. Prices are even rising in some places.

Today’s charts show median resale prices for jurisdictions in the Washington area for the past three years and four months.

One of the clearest examples of what has gone on locally is in Prince William County. You can see that prices fell dramatically in 2008 in Prince William. Then something interesting happened.

Buyers became so interested in the affordability of Prince William homes that they bought like crazy, eventually pushing prices upward again.

Similar scenarios have happened elsewhere, but not as dramatically as in Prince William. Still, you can see an upward trend in Loudoun and Fairfax counties.

Things have unfolded a little differently in Maryland. There, prices generally stopped falling in the spring of 2009. Since then, however, they have remained rather flat.

The exception is Prince George’s County. An abundance of unsold homes has prevented the kind of competition among buyers that is necessary for prices to increase.

The good news is that sales in Prince George’s this year are up 28 percent so far over last year - more than in any other Washington-area jurisdiction. That kind of demand from buyers in Prince George’s should cause prices to level off and eventually come back up.

* Send email to csicks@gmail.com.

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