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What’s New in Housing Market?

Like the rest of the country, Potomac felt the effects of the downturn in the housing market that has taken place in the last two years. Prices have leveled off and sales have fallen, and no longer can sellers hope to see the same increase in home values over short periods of time that not long ago had become the norm.

The number of homes sold in Potomac in May was down over 30 percent from May 2007 figures and average sale prices declined 26 percent ($985,728 in May 2008, down from $1, 332,254 in May 2007) in the same period as well, according to data from the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Yet there are signs, however, that the market could be getting better, both anecdotal and statistical. The average number of days a sold house spent on the market in May 2008 was 74, down from a 96-day average in May 2007.

"We’ve actually had a good late spring," said Anne Killeen, a Washington Fine Properties Realtor and Potomac resident. "I think sellers got more realistic in their pricing and buyers started to see that interest rates were going to rise a little bit."

While the market isn’t what it was in 2005, sellers who take a realistic approach to moving their house can meet with success. Getting a home into mint condition helps, and using recent comparables — sales that occurred this year as opposed to in years past — can help sellers set a realistic price.

Killeen said that she has seen a lot of listings in the last six months get multiple offers, but in Potomac those homes have tended to be closer in to Potomac Village. Homes further out in Potomac continue to have a more difficult time, she said.

Yet as always, hard times for sellers can mean opportunity for potential buyers.

"I think it’s a great time to purchase," Killeen said. "I think most of the sellers on the market right now have priced their houses [reasonably] … and are anxious and interested to get their houses off the market."

For more news and statistics on Potomac and area real estate, visit Metropolitan Regional Information Systems at www.mris.com.