- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005

Washington-area home buyers found the market just slightly less competitive in May, as the inventory of homes to see rose. Sales rose, too, however.

On May 31, 15,220 homes were on the market in the region. Nearly 14,000 homes were sold last month, which tells us that sales chances were 91 percent in May.

Sales chances are my way of measuring the level of competition in the real estate market. Dividing sales figures for the month by the inventory on the last day of the month results in a percentage. A figure below 20 percent indicates a buyer’s market. Higher figures mean we’re in a seller’s market.

What a seller’s market it is. The amount of time a home spends on the market is at a record low in many jurisdictions.

Consider Stafford County. Homes sold there in May had spent an average of 22 days on the market — down from 28 days last year. But look back at May 2000. Stafford County homes spent an average of 76 days on the market then.

Prince George’s County is even more dramatic. Homes sold there last month also spent 22 days on the market. Last year: 32 days. May 2000: 110 days.

The fastest-selling markets have long been Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, but now, homes are selling just as fast in Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Northern Virginia has five jurisdictions where homes sell in 15 days or less. The fastest-selling Maryland jurisdiction in May was Montgomery, at 17 days.

When homes are selling as fast as they are today, everyone needs to have their heads on straight and a lot of decision-making done in advance.

Decide in advance, buyers, what you are willing to pay for what kind of home. Know ahead of time, sellers, what contingencies you’ll accept and when you want to settle.

Once that sign goes in the yard, the whole world speeds up.

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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