- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

Because home sales are down by 16 percent this year, the Washington area is awash in homes for sale. About 52,000 existing homes were available to buyers at the end of April.

Several years ago, homes sold so quickly that they couldn’t heap up like this. Now homes take months to sell, so every additional home coming on the market just adds to the existing glut.

Fortunately, we aren’t seeing as many additional listings this year. About 55,000 homes were placed on the market during the first four months of the year - a drop of 3 percent compared to the same period last year.

Listings really surged in 2006, as homeowners tried to bail out near the top of the market. Since then, it has become significantly harder to sell a home. So why do people sell if it’s so hard? Some are forced to sell because they can’t afford the payment any longer. There are also all the foreclosures you read about.

Most folks, however, move for the perennial reasons: job transfers, changes in family size, downsizing or upgrading. These factors will always be with us, and that’s why so many homes are going up for sale in a slow market.

Now is a pretty good time to upgrade, actually, because you can take your time and choose from the largest selection of available homes in Washington history.

If you already have a home to sell, that will be the tougher part, of course. Remember, however, that one half of the moving experience is usually challenging.

During the hot seller’s market of 2002-2005, it was easy to sell but harder to buy. Now the reverse is true.

Several years ago, you made a bundle selling your old home, but you needed all of that profit to afford the expensive home you were buying.

Now you typically need to cut your sales price to find a buyer, but you can be a tough negotiator when buying your next home.

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@gmail.com).

The statistics in this story reflect a metropolitan area that includes the Alexandria; and the District.

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