- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2005

The Washington metropolitan area was flooded with homes for sale in the third quarter, bringing to an abrupt halt what had been an incredibly competitive seller’s market.

More than 51,000 homes were placed on the market in July, August and September — 24 percent more than the same period in 2004.

In September alone, 18,685 sellers listed their homes with area Realtors. That’s the highest number of homes ever listed in a single month.

All this supply wouldn’t mean a whole lot if there were sufficient demand among buyers. In 2004, for example, third-quarter listings were up 13 percent, yet buyer demand was so strong that those homes were sold quickly.

Because buyers fought fiercely for those homes last year, prices rose and competition was strong. And, because those homes didn’t linger on the market, competition remained strong in the following months.

But this year has been quite different. Not only were listings up in the third quarter, sales were down. Sales of existing homes were down 12 percent in September, as buyers showed a lack of interest not seen in this area for quite awhile.

As a result of the abundant supply and weakened demand, homes stayed on the market longer last quarter. In September, Alexandria homes were on the market 34 days, compared to only 19 days in March.

This cooling of the market will have an effect on area home prices. In the coming months, prices should remain stable or rise only slightly.

Buyers should be sure their Realtors are using the most recent data to determine the correct amount to offer on the home of your choice. And sellers need to realize that overpricing a home in today’s market will cause it to sell much more slowly than it would have back in the spring.

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

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