- - Thursday, June 21, 2012

More than 9,000 home sellers found buyers in May as the Washington-area real estate market continued to enjoy its best year since 2005.

Sales were up 13 percent in Anne Arundel, Charles and Arlington counties. Sales fell 2 percent in Montgomery and 3 percent in Prince George’s, but those are aberrations. Total sales for the first five months of the year were up 3 percent in Montgomery and 5 percent in Prince George’s.

You may notice that sales were dramatically higher last month than in May 2010. That was an aberration, too. Remember that the federal tax credit for home buyers expired on April 30, 2010. A flood of buyers put contracts on homes that April, causing May sales to be unusually low.

Not only are homes selling in larger numbers than they have in seven years, they also are selling faster than they have since 2005.

Sellers who signed sales contracts with buyers in May waited just over a month in Fairfax City and Manassas City. Those are the fastest-selling jurisdictions in the entire region.

Fairfax County is also very quick, with an average of 39 days. Alexandria, the District and Arlington and Loudoun counties are all in the 40s.

Homes have been selling more slowly in Maryland. Montgomery County was the swiftest at 61 days. It took 97 days to sell a home in Charles, 98 in Prince George’s and a painful 130 in Baltimore City.

Sales will take longer in the months to come. May always marks the end of the busy spring housing market. We can expect the unsold inventory to remain fairly level for a few months, while sales will decline.

As a result, buyers will have more homes to choose from and less competition from other home shoppers. That will cause them to slow down, and that will mean sellers will have to wait a little longer.

Until next spring, at least.

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