- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2006

Despite a flood of competition, homeowners in the Washington metropolitan area were still trying to sell their properties at the end of 2005.

It’s not too surprising, I suppose. The new market climate came about rather abruptly, and people need time to adjust.

It was just back in August when the number of homes for sale began to rise. But by October, there were 29,000 homes available on the market — compared to only 15,600 in October 2004.

With that many homes to choose from, buyers began taking their time. They no longer felt rushed to make a buying decision in a few hours. This meant homes sold more slowly, which further increased the total number of available homes (often referred to as inventory).

Even though so many other homes were going unsold, thousands of folks felt that November was a good time to try selling theirs.

So, 12,175 homes were placed on the market in November. These new listings brought the region’s total inventory to nearly 28,000 on Nov. 30.

Why would so many people try to sell their homes in November? Because they stand to make a lot of money, that’s why. And if there were enough buyers out there, those homes would have been snapped up in no time.

As you can see on the fever chart, 12,800 homes were put on the market in March. Yet the inventory was only 10,700 at the end of March because homes were selling so quickly then.

Not anymore. Now that the market has slowed, we can expect to see high inventory figures continue into spring.

Eventually, sellers will get the word that homes aren’t selling as well as they used to, and they’ll stop listing their homes at such a rate.

Today, buyers will find a lot of sellers lowering their prices as they realize selling isn’t as easy as it was in early 2005. Beware, however, that you don’t overpay for a home that should have been listed for less in the first place.

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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