- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Last month may have been the best month home buyers have seen in at least a decade. I’m not saying it was affordable, by any means, but there were plenty of homes for buyers to look at in the Washington metropolitan area.

Nearly 40,000 homes were on the market at the end of April — 186 percent more than April 2005.

Despite this flood of available homes, sales were down 27 percent last month. Taken together, the abundant inventory and lackluster sales mean that we’ve shifted away from the seller’s market of recent years.

Sales chances for the region were only 24 percent in April, the lowest in eight years.

Sales chances measure the level of competition in the real estate market. Dividing sales figures 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 balanced market or a seller’s market.

Almost all of Virginia was a buyer’s market last month, with sales chances falling as low as Loudoun County’s 12 percent.

The Maryland counties, on the other hand, were still fairly good for sellers. Cumulative sales chances there were 32 percent. Prince George’s County had a lot to do with that. Chances were 50 percent there, meaning it is definitely a seller’s market.

Because of that, home prices are still rising in Prince George’s County. Median sales prices were up 15 percent there last month.

In such buyer’s markets as Arlington County, however, prices were flat compared to April 2005. The rest of the region saw prices rise only 1 to 7 percent over last year.

That’s a far cry from last spring, when prices were up 20 to 30 percent throughout the region.

e-mail ([email protected]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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