Sales of existing homes were up 7 percent during the first four months of this year. It is the fourth consecutive year that early sales activity has increased over the prior year.
This is encouraging because the precipitous drop in sales activity from 2006 through 2008 was one reason why home prices dropped and the broader economy suffered.
I’m sharing with you today another encouraging statistic: home listings. They are lower than they have been in more than 10 years.
When the market began to sour, the number of homes listed with area real estate agents soared. Homeowners and investors both tried to sell while prices were high.
Listings climbed from 115,000 in 2003 to an all-time high of 168,000 in 2007, yet sales fell from 115,000 in 2003 to 69,000 in 2007.
Notice those four figures. In 2003, 115,000 homes were listed and sales contracts were completed on 115,000 homes. Then in 2007, 168,000 homes were listed for sale, yet 99,000 of those homes never had ratified sales contracts.
That is exactly the reason why home prices hit bottom in 2008 in many Washington-area jurisdictions.
Back to the encouraging stats: Just 37,439 homes were listed for sale during the first four months of 2012. That is 4 percent lower than 2011 and 43 percent lower than 2006.
This means sellers are facing less competition from other sellers than they have in recent years.
Even better, sellers will find more buyers coming to look at their homes. Contracts were signed to sell 32,255 properties during the first four months of the year - not bad out of 37,439 listings.
In 2008, just over 22,000 contracts were signed from January through April, out of 55,000 listings.
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