- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I hope a lot of area home sellers went on vacation in July because I’m sure you all needed a break. It must be exhausting, trying to sell a home in a region that has suddenly become a buyer’s market to rival the slowest years of the 1990s.

It has to be particularly frustrating to sellers who considered selling last year, which turned out to be the last great sales year of a six-year sales boom.

Last month, only 7,868 existing homes were sold in the Washington metropolitan area, a drop of 31 percent compared to July 2005.

At the same time, the number of homes for sale has continued to grow. On July 31, there were 48,737 homes on the market in the area.

We’ve never seen that many homes for sale in our area. Even back in July 1992, which was the slowest sales year in my records, only 36,895 home listings languished on the market.

Last July, fewer than 20,000 homes were for sale in the region.

So, last month, with nearly 50,000 homes to choose from and fewer than 8,000 selling per month, buyers had it pretty good.

Buyers had the most leverage over sellers in Prince William and Loudoun counties. Sales were down 50 percent in Prince William and 42 percent in Loudoun.

Sellers did best in the District last month, where sales were down 11 percent compared to last year. Still, it was the toughest month to sell a home in the District since 1997.

I believe area home sellers are just going to have to get used to these new market conditions because it’s not likely to change for a long time.

Speaking very generally, buyer’s and seller’s markets in our area seem to last about five to eight years. It’s a cycle that has repeated since the early 1980s.

If it holds true, it is possible we won’t see another seller’s market until at least 2011.

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

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