In Charles County, housing price increases in 2004 far outstripped those of the previous year, and were the second steepest in the region.
The median sale price for a home rose 23.6 percent to $237,000 in 2004, from $191,815 the previous year, according to a Washington Post analysis based on state sales records for single-family houses and townhouses; condominiums were not included.
Charles County: Details on Charles County's median home prices.
In contrast, prices increased just 14.2 percent from 2002 to 2003. And even though prices jumped, the county remained one of the most affordable in the region.
Waldorf's four Zip codes -- 20601, 20602, 20603 and 20604 -- accounted for most of the homes sold, 1,970 out of 3,098. Waldorf is designated as a growth area for the county, said Bud Humbert of Century 21 H.T. Brown Real Estate in Waldorf. Median prices in those Zip codes rose at least 20 percent.
In La Plata, Zip code 20646, which is in the central part of the county, 337 houses sold at a median price of $265,000, up 19.2 percent.
Tax assessments, which are done on a three-year cycle in Maryland, were just completed for the western area of the county, said Robert Farr, supervisor of assessments for Charles.
"Our increase was 47.2 percent for the western part of the county for three years," Farr said. "The last time we reassessed the area, the increase was a lot lower, 11.3 percent."
The least expensive part of the county in 2004 was Zip code 20640, Indian Head, where 125 homes sold at a median price of $144,000, up 10.8 percent. It also was the most inexpensive part of the county in 2003.
"Everyone is holding their breath," Humbert said, about how the upcoming national round of military base closures will affect the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division, where 3,500 people work. "If the base is still over there, I expect there will be growth."
The most expensive part of the county was Zip code 20617, Bryantown, nestled to the southeast of Waldorf and northeast of La Plata, where the median price of five houses sold was $420,000, up 64.7 percent from 2003. But with so few sales, the increase is not statistically important.
There were two Zip codes where the median price fell in 2004; in both of them, the number of sales also was small. In Zip code 20613, Brandywine, the median price dropped 6.3 percent to $299,700; there were 16 sales. In Zip code 20677, Port Tobacco, which had the highest median sale price in the previous year, prices fell 7.9 percent to $350,000; there were 28 sales.