Gas shortages in the Washington area have not stopped serious buyers from looking at houses, real estate agents here say.

But increasingly, shoppers are making appointments with real estate offices and letting agents drive them around, a number of realty firms reported.

"There are not the same number of people driving around on their own" said Ellen Cleveland, manager of the Springfield Long & Foster office. "We seem to be doing the usual amount of business," she said. "There's not as much traffic at open houses, though."

Most agents contacted said they noticed a slackening of weekend traffic, particularly at Sunday open houses, but said sales have remained about the same. They also said there seems to be the same interest in locating in the suburbs.

"Sales have been vigorous everywhere," said Richard Lanham, president of Red Carpet Beltway Homes, Inc., which specializes in houses in northern Prince George's Country.

Sida D'antonio, manager of Panorama real estate's Reston office said, "I think we have a little bit less activity . . . but we've had a fantastic month."

D'antonio maintains that interest in Reston has continued because of the community's extensive public transportation to Washington.

James G. Banks, executive vice president of the Washinngton Board of Realtors, said that "It's too early to tell" what effect the gas shortage has had on home buying sales in the area.

But he said realtors have indicated that open houses are attracting fewer people. The agent themselves have had to conserve on gas, he said.

Several real estate agents said that sales of larger, more expensive homes have solved, but said they did not believe the slump was gasrelated.

Debbie Rosenstein, research analyst for Housing Data Reports, said that while traffic was off by 40 to 78 percent at new housing developments all over the area, sales are up this month -- both over June and a year ago. There are "more serious buyers, who really need houses," she said.

However, neighborhoods closer to the city are selling better than outlying ones, she said.