- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

The housing market in February was a little easier for Washington-area home buyers than in January because of an increase in homes for sale.

Yet it was still the most competitive February in history, with the highest sales chances ever recorded for that month.

Sales chances are my way of measuring the level of competition in the real estate market. Dividing sales 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.

And we are certainly in a seller’s market.

Sales chances in February were 93 percent for the metropolitan area. Popular jurisdictions Alexandria, Prince William, Prince George’s and even Stafford saw sales chances above 100 percent.

I say “even Stafford” because this is the first year that Stafford County has seen sales chances above 100 percent. In 2003 and before, Stafford was one of the least competitive markets in the Washington region. It was just too far away to be a hot market.

Today, however, high prices are forcing buyers to drive farther from the Beltway in search of affordable properties. A few years ago, this push made Prince William County more competitive.

Now that prices have shot up there, buyers are battling for homes in Stafford County. Not that the battles have stopped inside the Beltway.

Sales chances in Alexandria — usually the most competitive jurisdiction in the region — were 169 percent in February.

Total home sales for February were 4 percent higher than February 2004.

New property listings rose 3 percent over last year.

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (csicks@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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