- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Last year, the Washington-area real estate market broke a lot of ground and a lot of records. Trying to understand what was going on, and what it meant to you as buyers and sellers, challenged me to study market data in new ways.

I’ve always found the relationship between home listings and home sales most helpful. Comparing listings and sales tells us about the supply and demand for homes in the region. Understanding supply and demand is what allows you to price your home correctly and offer the right price for your next home.

By the way, a “listing” is a home placed in the regional sales database by a Realtor. In many parts of the country, this is known as the Multiple Listing Service, but this area is served by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. The MRIS database contains thousands of homes for sale every day, and it is the most powerful tool in the arsenal of any home buyer, seller or Realtor.

In the mid-1990s, a typical home listed in March would be sold by May or June. Homes were selling back then, but not very quickly. Today, the average home placed on the market on Monday will be sold by the weekend.

With homes turning over that rapidly, my usual way of tracking listings became problematic. Because I typically report how many active listings there were on the last day of a given month, I missed many homes that were listed and sold in fewer than 30 days.

So today’s data are different. Instead of reporting the standing inventory on a given day, today’s column tells you the total number of new listings placed on the market in 2004.

Looking at the charts, a few interesting things become apparent. The fever chart at the bottom makes it clear that March through October is the time most people choose to sell their homes. Hardly anyone puts their home on the market in December.

You will also notice that nearly 16,000 homes were placed on the market in June, more than any other month on record. Obviously, there was no shortage of sellers last year.

But there was a shortage of standing inventory, because new listings quickly become new sales, and because the demand for homes in this market was far higher than the supply. That made last year a tough year for buyers.

Don’t expect this year to be any different.

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail ([email protected]gmail.com).

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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