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Record snow will make it harder to read the real estate market

A blizzard--or two--is hardly the thing to give most people the itch to hop in the car and visit open houses. But if the mood strikes this weekend, Joe Faraji is ready for you. An agent with Long & Foster's Bethesda Avenue office, Faraji has already sent e-mails to his sellers in Kensington and Glen Echo telling them to clean all the snow from their driveways and sidewalks and get ready for the open houses he had already scheduled for this weekend. "I think people are going to come out," he said. "People who are serious about buying a house, they show up."

The snowy weather is not driving Faraji into hibernation. Last Sunday, after our first round of snow, he showed a house. "I got there, and they got there, and they looked at the property," he said.

But not all agents--or buyers--are as hardy as Faraji. The train of snowstorms arriving in Washington in January and February stands to skew our home-sale statistics, making it harder to read what's likely to happen to the local real estate market this spring. Most housing stats are seasonally adjusted, but those adjustments can't account for Snowmageddon.

"Seasonal adjustment would account for the normal seasonal patterns," explained Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. "The snowstorm is putting additional weakness into the market."

But he doesn't think deals will be lost, especially because interest rates have been holding steady while the snow has fallen. "It's usually just a delayed transaction that occurs one month or two months later at most," Yun said.

The real estate market snow days could put some extra heat on buyers this spring. The temporary federal tax credits of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for some repeat buyers require a signed contract by April 30. "I think there's still sufficient time," Yun said. "Home buying is usually a two- to three-month process."

The Realtors released some local market statistics (which are not seasonally adjusted) on Thursday. The median single-family home price in the Washington metro area was up 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier, but down 5.7 percent from the third quarter.

The Weekend Poll:

This is an non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post readers as a group or the general population.

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  February 11, 2010; 2:01 PM ET
Categories:  Buying , Poll , Selling , Statistics , The market , Weekend Poll  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Snowmageddon -- They saw it coming in July
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Mud room? Not me. I would want a sun room to catch solar energy and add insulation and have the best doors and windows one could get. Those are my choices. Perhaps an automatic snow removal system if anyone builds one.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | February 12, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

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