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Area Realtors Cautiously Predict Recovery Next Year

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Washington-area realtors say they're cautiously optimistic that the area's real estate markets will begin recovering over the next year.

They cite a solid regional economy, low interest rates and government programs to help first-time buyers.

Compared to this time last year, home sales are up across the region, and prices are way down - 20 percent lower in some areas. If sales continue to rise, then prices will stop falling, and the market can stabilize and begin growing again, realtors say.

But there is reason to temper that optimism. Foreclosures in the metro area have begun to plateau, but they haven't quite started falling yet. And the hardest hit areas - Prince William and Prince George's counties in particular - have much further to go than Montgomery County or the District. Nobody knows for sure whether a second wave of foreclosures expected to hit other areas of the country will affect this region.

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