- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

Due to a flood of homes for sale, home buyers found June to be the easiest shopping month of the year so far.

There were 17,783 homes placed on the market last month, the most this year. It was, in fact, the highest number of home listings on record for a single month.

With such a large number of homes to choose from, buyers faced much less competition from other buyers. June’s sales chances were only 74. That’s a significant drop from May’s 91, and the lowest for any month since October.

Sales chances are my way of measuring the level of competition in the real estate market. Dividing sales figures for the month by the inventory on the last day of the month results in a percentage — a figure below 20 percent indicates a buyer’s market. Higher figures mean we’re in a seller’s market.

There were 12,752 homes sold in June. The remaining inventory of homes for sale was 17,245. If more homes had sold in June, the inventory would have been lower on June 30.

This interplay between sales and inventory can tell us quite a bit about the climate of the housing market. When sales are brisk, the inventory remains low. When sales slow down, inventory rises. Inventory in the 1990s was usually well over 30,000. Fewer homes were being listed for sale back then, but those that were listed sat on the market for months.

Last month’s inventory figure of 17,245 was the highest since October 2002. This could mean one of two things: Either the extraordinary number of listings entering the market in June was an anomaly or the rise in inventory is an indication that the market is slowing.

It’s too soon to say the market is slowing, but if we see high inventory figures in the coming months, it could mean that demand is weakening and the market is finally cooling off.

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (csicks@gmail.com).

The statistics in this story reflect a metropolitan area that includes the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles and Frederick; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford; the city of Alexandria; and the District.

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