The MJM reports today on the improving residential real estate market in Prince William County, acknowledging that sales are up and foreclosures are down, and even discloses that Prince William County’s market recovery significantly outpaces what is happening elsewhere in Virginia. If readers were looking for some sort of narrative to help them understand all of this, however, the MJM again demonstrated their inability to provide that service. In one of the driest, mind-numbingly statistic-laden listings of market data in recent memory, readers might well think the intent here was not to inform them, but to actively encourage them not to read an article that the paper felt compelled to publish in some fashion.
I’m sure MJM readers got a whole lot out of this:
According to year-over-year statistics from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, the number of active new listings for single-family detached units in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park registered only slight increases in May.
However, active and new listings in those areas rose 22 percent and 10 percent, respectively, for single-family attached units.
In that category, active listings went from 1,881 in May 2007 to 2,293 and new listings increased from 609 in May 2007 to 671.
Sales for detached units jumped 89 percent from 254 in May 2007 to 481 last month, according to NVAR.
Attached units didn’t see quite the same boost, but sales still increased 73 percent with 294 in May 2008 compared with 170 at the same time last year.
Year-over-year statistics for May showed a drop in the average sales price for homes in the three municipalities declined with a 36 percent drop for attached homes and a 33 percent for detached dwellings.
Stackhouse said foreclosed houses are contributing to that decline, but that there’s been a slight trend up, with sellers getting about 88 percent of the original asking price. That’s up from 86 percent in January, she said.
The editorial board of the MJM has made it pretty clear that they don’t particularly care for the policies adopted by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors over the past year. As one of the major cheerleaders of the doom-and-gloom crowd that have opined that the county is setting itself up for an economic disaster, they no doubt were eagerly awaiting confirmation that their predictions were correct. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, the opposite has happened and Prince William County is leading the area real estate recovery. That leaves the MJM in quite a bind.
As the primary local newspaper, the MJM can’t just ignore the story. When something so dramatic as we have seen happens, they can’t afford to not say anything about the market at all. The alternative is to fulfill the need to write about it, but to do so in such a way that no one will bother reading the article. If that was the intent here, this article spectacularly succeeds.
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