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I keep hearing two absolutely conflicting things about the state of the market today:

  • First, that down payments have gone up, and home-buyers are dropping out because they don’t have enough money.
  • Second, that home prices are crazy low and everyone’s buying! Yipee!

Who better to explain these dueling perceptions than an exclusive buyer’s agent? I recently checked in with Dana Hill from Buyer’s Edge in Bethesda, who happily broke down her sales stats for me and explained why, yes, she was very busy. Last year, Hill had two settlements in August, none in September, one in October, and two in November. This year, she had three in August, three in September, three scheduled for October, and as of right now, one scheduled for November. So in sum: five in 2007 versus 10 in 2008. So, good for her, except that the prices of her sold properties have dropped significantly. Last year, Hill’s average sale was between $600,000 and $700,000. This year, her range has been $214,000 to $540,000, and she’s worked with a lot more first-time home-buyers and people looking for condos. In general, it’s a more circumspect crowd than in years past.

“It seems to me that the people that are walking in the door over the last month are people who have been cautious, and are watching the prices, and the prices have dropped low enough now that they feel they’re going to get a good deal,” says Hill. “When they go out there and bid, their offers are very well-received because sellers have seen people that have no money down, and now, people have twenty percent down. And the sellers say, ‘let’s not let this person get away.’”