A Market So Hot Even Sellers Are Surprised
County Prices Seem to Defy Cooling Trend Elsewhere
By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page VA16
There's not much pizazz about the house on Hitt Avenue in McLean that drew bidders earlier this month. It's a basic 1959 brick rambler, with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, and it has long served as a rental. Its kitchen and bathrooms haven't been updated in years, and in heavy rains, the garage floods.
Asking price: $550,000.
Time on the market: five days.
Sale price: above the asking price.
While some national analysts warn that housing prices have soared to unreasonable heights and that rising interest rates could undercut them, Fairfax County real estate values appear to be continuing a spectacular four-year climb, meaning that buyers are paying more for less.
Sometimes even the sellers find the prices astounding.
A few snapshots from a fast-moving market:
• A tiny 1955 home in the Falls Church area -- 945 square feet -- is listed for sale at $350,000.
"It's shocking what you pay for a home around here," said the owner, Judith Prosise, a retired school bus driver, who said she and her husband will move to Montana. "But we're close to Tysons Corner."
• A 1938 home in Annandale, just slightly larger than Prosise's, is listed for $385,500. Two years ago, it sold for less than half that amount, $180,000, according to county records.
• And a four-bedroom home in Reston is selling for $459,900, about 2 1/2 times what it cost less than seven years ago.
"Can you believe that?" said the owner, Stephen Tracy, a federal worker who is moving to a new home in Loudoun County. "It's amazing."
A skeptic might note that these are just asking prices, not sale prices. But according to county records, each of these houses is selling for close to the county's average for those areas -- at least as of January.
Over the last five years, the average home price in the county has risen from $195,713 to $357,506, an 83 percent jump.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company