The developer of an exclusive Northwest Washington housing project who last fall auctioned six home sites for $86,000 to $100,000 each and who had hoped to use the same technique to sell three homes there last Saturday, withdrew them from sale when the highest bid he could get was $450,000.

Builder Robert T. Foley returned to the auction technique after trying for 2 1/2 years to sell houses at his Foxhall Terrace development at Reservoir and Foxhall Roads NW. Stymied by high interest rates, Foley had been able to sell only one house and 14 of 23 lots.

The first sale attracted more than 150 enthusiastic bidders for lots from 5,500 square feet to 6,900 square feet in size.

Saturday's house auction drew almost as large a crowd. Seventy-five people registered to vie for the properties, which had been priced between $589,000 and $695,000.

Hundreds of people had attended open houses or requested sales brochures in response to recent newspaper advertisements placed by the sale organizers, the Michael Fox Co. of Baltimore, according to auctioneer and company Chairman William Z. Fox.

"Today is truly a buyer's day," Fox proclaimed to his audience, noting he recognized many people from Foley's auction last fall..

After the day's first offer--$250,000--Fox drew laughter by asking the bidder to repeat it, then exclaiming, "That makes $500,000!"

Looking at one woman in the crowd, Fox asked, "Are you scratching your cheek or bidding ma'am? Some people bid that way."

Offers quickly climbed to $350,000 and then $375,000. "These prices are cheap," Fox shouted. "These properties are very valuable."

Fox got bids of $400,000 and $410,000 but failed to raise prices beyond that. After a short conference with the auctioneer, Foley ordered the property withdrawn.

The second house, originally priced at $670,000, was also withdrawn when the highest bid made was only $450,000.

The third residence, the largest of the three, drew only one offer for $400,000, and was also withdrawn.