- - Thursday, February 9, 2012

If you are trying to sell a home, you already may have noticed you are not alone. A lot of other folks in your ZIP code are selling, too. They are your competition for potential buyers - the reason you need to make your property look good and price it right.

You may not have realized, however, that you also may be competing against rental properties. Many potential buyers change their mind when they find out how difficult it can be to get financing or how expensive their dream home is to purchase.

That’s why I’ve included both kinds of data in today’s charts - homes for sale and homes for rent.

I’ve also given you the data from two sources, the Realtors database maintained by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS) and some figures from the U.S. census.

Looking first at the MRIS figures for resale listings, we should be encouraged by the fact that listings in 2011 were lower than they had been in years. That’s good because all of our recent real estate woes were caused by a huge flood of listings.

You can see that the number of resale listings (area homes put up for sale) exploded after 2003, peaking in 2006, when investors and home owners alike tried to sell before home prices began to fall.

The problem was, home sales fell just as sharply as homes for sale climbed. That’s the reason the number of rental listings climbed so much. The number of area homes listed for rent peaked two years later than the for-sale peak. In 2008, the number of properties listed for rent hit an all-time high of 47,337.

Things have improved significantly since then. As you can see, listings for rentals and sale properties both are down, although rentals still are quite a bit higher than they were in 2003 through 2005. One reason for that is the large number of homes that owners are unable to sell for one reason or another - so they rent.

Perhaps the most encouraging figure on the entire page is the unsold inventory at the end of last year. Fewer than 20,000 unsold homes were still on the market on Dec. 31, 2011. That’s half as many as we had just three years earlier. And that’s a good way to begin 2012.

Send email to csicks@gmail.com.

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