[FoRK] What's that sound???

Adam L Beberg beberg
Mon Jul 25 17:38:52 PDT 2005

It's like a loud whooshing of air... must be a storm coming.

Rent = 2k, value = 1.5M, that's only a multiple of 750. It should be in 
the range of 80-120, guess which one will adjust ;)

I've been to DC, driven through parts, so who in their right mind would 
pay 1.5M (or even 300K) to live there??? It made the south side of 
ghettos of Chicago seem like Beverly Hills. An effect of being 
Congress's plaything of course.


D.C. Area Housing Market Cools Off
By Kirstin Downey and Sandra Fleishman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Mon Jul 25, 1:00 AM ET

Washington area temperatures may be sizzling, but the once-torrid real 
estate market seems to be cooling off as houses stay on the market 
longer and the number of homes for sale rises.

Home sales tend to slow in the summer, but the number of houses for sale 
in the Washington area has climbed by 50 percent in recent months. The 
available inventory has risen to about 35,300 homes, up from an average 
of about 23,000 in the past three years, according to Metropolitan 
Regional Information Systems Inc., which runs the local multiple-listing 

The average number of days a house stays on the market has crept up by 
two days in Fairfax County, to 16 days in June from 14 days a year 
earlier. In Montgomery County it has risen to 20 days from 18 days, 
according to MRIS. Those are, however, still short turnaround times by 
historic standards.

Meanwhile, the number of houses sold in Northern Virginia's inner 
suburbs fell by 9.6 percent in June, compared with a year earlier. In 
the District, the number of houses sold dropped by 8 percent, while in 
Montgomery County they dropped about 1.6 percent.

Local real estate brokers say they are seeing signs of a change.

"The market has slowed for sure, especially at the high end," said Wes 
Foster, chairman of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.

Foster said the market is returning to "normalcy" after a frenzied era 
of multiple contracts, bidding wars and desperate buyers waiving their 
right to property inspections or appraisals.

"It's very healthy," he said. "It worried the pure hell out of me the 
numbers we were seeing. I remember Boston in 1982 to 1989, when [prices] 
went up 25 percent a year for six years, and then in one year [they] 
fell 87 percent. The ride up for everybody selling was wonderful but the 
ride down was awful. . . . It was very painful and I don't want to see 
that here."

Foster said the recent manic market has been fueled by what he called 
"crazy fools running around buying houses as investments," with "bad 
loans, interest-free loans."

"They'll get hurt, and I think they should," as prices inevitably 
correct themselves, he said. A slowdown is needed because so many 
average people have been priced out of homes or compelled to pay high 
prices, he said.

Real estate broker Susann H. Haskins of the Long & Foster office in 
Potomac, president of the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, 
cautioned that the down-tick may simply be summer-related.

"Is it a major shift? Not necessarily. . . . I don't think we should 
raise the red flags and send up the alarms yet. . . . We don't have 
enough data to definitively say the expansion has ended," she said.

The Washington region remains strong, compared with other markets, said 
Ken Wenhold, regional director for Metrostudy, a housing research firm 
based in Houston. "Although the resale inventory and days on the market 
have increased slightly, it is still overall a very tight resale 
market," he said.

Many area real estate agents said that good houses in good 
neighborhoods, realistically priced, still sell well and that sales are 
faster in less-expensive areas. In Prince William County and its largest 
cities, including Manassas and Manassas Park, the median price is 
$380,000 and sales rose 10.7 percent in June, compared with the year 
before. In Prince George's County, where the median sales price in June 
was $300,000, the number of sales rose 3 percent.

"I still see prices rising and the market is very strong," said real 
estate broker Donald L. Frederick, with Re/Max International Inc. in 
Camp Springs, who cited Prince George's County's affordability as the 
reason for its strength at a time real estate agents from other areas 
said market activity "is way off."

But in many of the region's inner suburbs, where prices have about 
doubled in four years, some sellers who expected results within days of 
posting a for-sale sign have been disappointed. Some are cutting their 

At the beginning of the year, buyers were frantically grabbing at 
anything. Now some have the time to pick and choose among neighborhoods, 
line up home inspections before buying and carefully consider the lofty 
prices they are paying.

Computer consultant Will Gibson, 39, put his red-brick Bellevue Terrace 
duplex, just off Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest Washington, up for sale 
in the spring. His wife, Jeep, was hoping to move to the suburbs. Gibson 
listed it at $895,000, but it did not sell. After two months, he took it 
off the market and stored the for-sale sign in an upstairs hallway. He 
said he will try to sell it again "after we fix a few things up."

Liza Potter, 31, who owns a townhouse in Burke, has been monitoring the 
market since March because she wants to move to a larger, single-family 
house. In March, she said, homes listed for sale on the Internet lasted 
two days. She often could not drive to them quickly enough to make a bid 
before they went under contract.

Now, she said, attractive listings are lasting two weeks and the prices 
seem to be slightly lower. Two weeks ago, she and her husband, Darrell, 
41, a computer specialist for the Defense Department, bought a house for 
$650,000 in a nearby neighborhood they had thought they could not 
afford. They now are listing their townhouse for sale at $439,000.

"More houses are on the market, so people have a little more time to 
look around and see what else is out there," Potter said.

Neighbors, for whom watching the home-sale market has been a favorite 
parlor pursuit, are noticing the slowdown, too. Dimetra Panagakos, 81, 
who lives next door to Gibson in Northwest Washington, chortled as she 
discussed the market.

"They used to sell in a week, these houses here, but now no more," said 
Panagakos, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1948. "Ha, ha, ha, 
they went crazy in my neighborhood, my neighbor asked $900,000 -- and 
now no more."

Some renters are also watching with interest. Sabrina Daly, 26, a 
research analyst who shares a $2,000-a-month rental house in Arlington's 
Lyon Park with two other young women, said the renovated bungalow next 
door went on the market three weeks ago for $1.5 million. It has not sold.

"I'm surprised," she said. "Maybe people don't want to pay $1.5 million. 
Maybe they can't pay $1.5 million."

In Falls Church, Josefina Villegas, 71, thought her house would sell in 
just a few days when she put it on the market in late June and that she 
would soon be winging her way, carefree, to visit her grandchildren in 

Houses in her woodsy neighborhood had been selling in the $900,000s, so 
she priced hers at $925,000 and waited for the bids to come in. She 
waited some more -- no bids. She dropped the price to $899,00. Three 
weeks later, still no bids.

"I think houses are going slower now," she said, as she worried about 
getting the lawn mowed once again to keep up its pristine market-ready 
appearance. "Send me somebody to buy."

Deborah Davenport, 50, listed her single-family house in Fairfax County 
last week at $569,000. Her husband, an echocardiographer who does heart 
ultrasounds, was offered his "dream job" with pediatric cardiologists in 
Tucson. In the past week, her home has been visited by just one set of 
prospective purchasers.

"We haven't gotten any nibbles, unlike a month ago, when people put 
their houses on the market, and poof, they'd be gone," she said. "I 
figured it had to slow, it had to stabilize; but I hope it hasn't 
completely stalled -- for our sake."

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