- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2007

June marked not only the midpoint of the year, but a high point for area real estate. If you are trying to sell your home, please don’t take “high point” to mean good news. It’s not.

At the end of last month, more than 50,000 homes were listed in the Realtors’ database maintained by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS).

Never before has the inventory exceeded 50,000 in the Washington metropolitan area. So, why did it happen in June? Why 2007?

Well, the slow pace of sales in our region is an answer to both questions. When homes are selling slowly, they linger in the MRIS database and the number of available homes rises.

The pace of sales began to slow when we switched from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market nearly two years ago. But it has taken this long for the market to fully slow down and for listings to rise to this level.

Why June? Well, the spring market is the busiest time of the year for real estate in our area. That’s when buyers and sellers are most active. About 34,500 homes were put on the market in April and May this year, compared to 23,000 in January and February. In most years, the interest of buyers rises in the spring at about the same rate as the number of home listings.

Not this year. As a result of lackluster buyer interest, that surge of home listings in the spring was still showing up in June’s inventory, pushing it above 50,000.

The fever chart on page F14 shows the results of the rise in inventory and the lack of buyer activity. Sales chances fell to 14 percent last month, the lowest we’ve seen since September.

Buyers should find that sellers are more eager to sell than they have been in at least a decade. Those who want to buy should take advantage of this huge selection of homes and the leverage they have over sellers right now.

For sellers, the low sales chances and high inventory mean that you have a lot of competition. You can’t sell an overpriced home in a market like this. Buyers just have too many other options today.

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.