Housing sales aren't included in the leading indicators economists look at when they measure the health of the U.S. economy. But if they were, 1976's resale housing statistics would indicated strong consumer confidence.
And what was true nationally was even more evident in this area, which set an all-time record of more than 30,000 sales through area multiple listing services, 13 per cent more than 1975.
Even in the November-December period, when housing sales generally decline, the resale market improved here. That may have been the result of a slow market in October, when sales were affected by the traditional pre-Presidential election doldrums.
And nationally, despite the "economic pause" indicated by statistics in the latter part of 1976, Americans spent $180 billion to buy homes, 30 per cent more than in 1975, and a new record.
The total U.S. resale market was up 22 per cent in 1976, with slightly more than 3 million homes sold. Additionally, 715,000 new homes were sold last year, another new high. This topped the previous year's total by 250,000 units, although it must be conceded that 1975 was a down year for new housing.
The greatest area improvement in resales was in Montgomery County, where sales were up 22 per cent. Prince George's County sales were up 21 per cent and sales in Northern Virginia were up 5.5 per cent.
Pauline Thompson of Tysons Realty feels that the boom in sales was a direct result of "a great deal of money available at much better rates than a year ago." She also is convinced that just about anybody with a job can buy a house in the Washington area.
"All you need is 5 per cent down," Thompson maintains. "There are plenty of houses available well under $50,000 to move right now."
Listings continued to be strong through November and December and were up 25 per cent for the year. With close to 70,000 houses listed in 1976, this also is a new record. In 1975, 55,636 homes were listed for sale.