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Real Estate Broker/Owner with Spencer Marker & Co. - Long & Foster

Once the snow melted the market heated up pretty quickly.  March built on February's numbers and while inventory grew a little in March sales surged keeping active listings below 09 levels.  As of March 31st there were 56 town homes available up 10% from 51 in February but down 51% from January 09's 109 active listings.  A far cry from the 315 active listings in March of 08.  The single family sector saw similar numbers with 54 active listings as of March 31st , up 50% from 36 in February but down 61% from March of last years 87 active listings and well below the 146 of March of 08.  Town home sales bumped up 62% with 115 sales from February's total of 71 but stayed consistent compared to 110 sales in March of 09 but still well above 56 in March of 08.  There was a notable jump in the single-family sector with 53 sales, up 89% from February's 28 and a 39% improvement over the 38 sales in March of 09.  Sales more than doubled March of 08's 24 sales.  This is outstanding news but not entirely unexpected and right in line with what we have discussed in out on a Limb in our most recent issue.  The town home market has been improving steadily now for 19 months with inventory steadily dropping and sales well above 06-08 levels.  Many segments of the town home market have seen 12-15% appreciation over the bottom of the market a year ago.  The real good news is that this has finally moved into the single-family sector in the past 4-6 weeks.  I attribute this to owner occupied town home sellers finally being able to move up and buy a larger home.  This has been missing from our market for a number of years and finally we have seen an impact.  With each passing day and small bits of good economic news consumer confidence has risen as well giving relocation buyers the desire to own as opposed to renting. There has been pent up demand to buy a larger home and it is finally starting be released.   Interest rates have risen only slightly, which is a surprise to me but a good one.  I had expected a more substantial jump once the Fed pulled out of the mortgage backed securities business but that has not happened . . . yet.  I still think it will at some point but clearly I called it wrong thinking we would see a more substantial jump in rates by now.  The stimulus plan ends in April and I feel that will have some effect on the town home market but I do not think that will be as significant as some do and certainly not have the impact that a rise in interest rates will