- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Washington-area resale market remained quite competitive in August, even exceeding the competition levels of July by two percentage points.

Buyers in August faced increased competition because the already-low inventory of homes for sale fell even more, while home sales remained level.

August is not typically a very strong sales month. A large number of area residents usually takes vacation in August, and there’s the impending school year to consider.

But sales remained strong this August, perhaps because some buyers were counseled by their Realtors that August is a good month to buy homes.

This advice is common and sound because August typically has a large number of homes still on the market from the spring market, yet buyers face less competition from other home shoppers.

All of these things were true this year; they were just less true than they would be in a typical year.

In the past three years, sales chances always fell in August.

They didn’t fall very far, but you could always depend on August being a less competitive market than June or July.

Last year, sales chances fell from July’s 71 to 65 in August.

This year, sales chances were again 71 in July, but chances rose to 73 in August.

Sales chances are a measure of market activity, calculated by dividing home sales by inventory.

The market tends to favor buyers when sales chances are less than 15 percent.

When chances are between 15 percent and 20 percent, it is a transitional market.

When chances are greater than 20 percent, it is a seller’s market.

From the late 1980s until 1999, sales chances never went above 20 percent.

In the past five years, they have never fallen below 40 percent.

The most-competitive markets continue to be anyplace inside or close to the Beltway.

The only exception is Prince William County, where affordability has consistently made the county more competitive than such places as the District or Montgomery County.The statistics in this story reflect a metropolitan area that includes the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles and Frederick; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford; the city of Alexandria; and

the District.

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