Home sales and prices in the Washington, D.C., area continued to cool in November, and sellers took note, with fewer owners choosing to list their homes for sale, according to statistics released by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

Sales in Washington, D.C., last month declined 17 percent from a year ago, falling from 672 to 558, and the city’s median home price — at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less — sank 6.8 percent during the period to $410,000.

There were just 798 new listings added to the District of Columbia market last month, down considerably from 1,195 new listings in October.

“We are definitely seeing healthier inventory levels,” said John McClain, senior fellow at the Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University, in a statement. “Available inventory for the Greater Washington, D.C., metro region is 70 percent of the way back to normal, compared to the all-time highs set in January through March of 2006.”

New listings declined 24 percent in Prince George’s County, Md., between November ’05 and November ’06, and sales also fell 24 percent during the period to 934. The median home price rose 3.6 percent in that time, from $320,000 to $331,500.

Activity in Alexandria, Va., softened as sales dropped to 163 last month, down 20.1 percent from 204 a year earlier. The median price paid for a home in November fell 3.3 percent from last year to $435,000, and new listings dropped to 213 from 343 in October — a 38 percent decrease.

Home prices in Maryland suburbs are faring far better than those in Northern Virginia, largely due to the fact that the Northern Virginia region got much more overheated during the market boom of 2002-2005, according to McClain. “Prices in Northern Virginia generally rose higher than those in Maryland, requiring sharper decreases as the market adjusts.”

McClain notes that Loudoun and Fauquier counties have been particularly hard hit due to the fact that many more new units have been built there. “That creates competition, which leads to lower prices, compared to an area like Prince George’s County, which has an inventory consisting primarily of existing units.”

McClain predicts that selling prices will continue to show slight decreases and overall flattening throughout the winter months, which are typically slow. But, he thinks that economic conditions are poised for a return to average inventory level and rising prices by April or May.

Rockville, Md.-based Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. serves more than 59,000 real estate professionals in Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Northern Virginia; and parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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