- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

People sell their homes for a lot of reasons. They move to be closer to a new job, school or church. They move up to make room for more children, or move down because the children have grown up. And, these days, many sell because they stand to make significant profits.

Fortunately for eager area buyers, there hasn’t been any shortage of homes for sale. In the first four months of 2004, more than 45,000 homes were listed for sale in the Washington area — a pace this year has nearly matched.

A “listing” is a home placed in the regional sales database by a Realtor. Known as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in many parts of the country, this area is served by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS). The MRIS database contains thousands of homes for sale every day.

Looking at the adjacent charts, a few interesting things become apparent. The fever chart at the bottom makes it clear that March to October are the months most people choose to sell their homes.

Hardly anyone puts their home on the market in December. You will also notice that nearly 17,000 homes were placed on the market in April, more than any month on record. Obviously, there is no shortage of sellers out there.

But there is a shortage of inventory because new listings quickly become new sales. Despite record levels of home listings, today’s buyers face near-record lows when it comes to inventory — the number of homes on the market on a given day.

What will make things easier for buyers? Well, it’s hard to imagine listings going much higher. Only so many people are going to move at a given time.

No, buyers are going to have to wait for demand to cool off before inventory improves. And considering that this year is nearly as competitive as 2004 was, don’t expect demand to decrease anytime soon.

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (csicks@gmail.com).

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