As a real estate agent, I’m always asked how the market is doing. The simple answer is that it’s a whole lot better than the rest of the country.  

But current buyers and sellers always want more detail, and that’s complicated. It’s easier to talk about real estate when there is a distinct swing in the market. I’ve been tracking markets in the Bethesda/Chevy Chase/Northwest D.C. markets for several years (specifically Zip codes 20814, 20815, 20816, 20817, 20015 and 20016).

In 2011, we had a hodge-podge of pluses and minuses, making it more of a dull plateau. Still, given the turmoil in other parts of the U.S., this is a fine predicament.

(Marcie Sandalow )

— In 2007 2,153 homes sold with an average price of $918,074

— In 2008 1,796 homes sold with an average price of $870,833

— In 2009 1,951 homes sold with an average price of $819,145

— In 2010 1,978 homes sold with an average price of $834,749

— In 2011 1,964 homes sold with an average price of $839,263

The one extreme in this current market is the reduction in foreclosure and short sale activity. Collectively, there were 22 bank sales in 2008; 75 in 2009; 91 in 2010; and 30 in 2011, a welcome reversal.

Sellers received between 93.1 percent and 96.8 percent of their original asking price. With two exceptions (Zip codes 20814 and 20015), this number has improved gradually since the market bottomed out in 2008-2009. The number of days on market has improved, too.

In the last three months (as of Oct. 10, 2011), 429 new listings have hit the market. As of today, 206 remain active, 41 have withdrawn from the market, 78 are under contract, four are temporarily off the market, and 94 have successfully sold, leaving a mysterious six listings out there in limbo land. Crunching numbers from the multiple listings service is not always an exact science.

I’ve been complaining about a lack of inventory for ages now. The once-guaranteed annual 10 to 15 percent return on real estate investments is long gone. Trade-up buyers are waiting it out for a variety of reasons:

-- Job security

-- A return to previous home price levels

-- Upside down on mortgage

Lastly, those who previously ditched D.C. for other locales are choosing to stay put due to the stable job market. Thank you, government.

 As buyers or sellers, I’d love to hear what you think about the current market conditions.  

Marcie Sandalow is a real estate agent with Evers & Co. She also writes a blog on her web site.