- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2004

Area sales chances fell to their lowest point all year in July, as the inventory of homes for sale rose slightly

and home sales cooled off a bit.

It’s not uncommon for sales activity to drop in July. Every year, the Washington-area real estate market is at its busiest in March to June. After that, things cool off month by month. So July’s statistics alone don’t tell us a lot about the state of the market.

But if we do some comparisons, we can learn a little more. For instance, sales chances last month were even lower than they were in January or February. This is very unusual, and it may be a sign that the market is beginning a long cool-down period.

Another interesting comparison may be made by looking at July 2003. Sales chances for that month were 71, the same as this July. That’s worth mentioning because it marks a departure from the first six months of 2004. Every month this year, sales chances were much higher than in 2003, until July. By failing to beat July 2003, last month’s sales chances seem to indicate that this year’s market is past its peak.

If these early indications bear out — if the market has truly begun to cool off — we can expect to see inventory rise and sales fall in the coming months. Buyers may not notice much of a difference because prices will remain very high and competition for homes in popular neighborhoods will continue to be fierce, but by 2005, the Washington area could be a less daunting market for buyers than 2004 has been.

Chris Sicks

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