- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

More than 51,000 homes were placed on the market during the third quarter of last year. That was the largest number of home listings the Washington metropolitan area had ever seen in one quarter.

The huge number of listings occurred just when the local housing market was cooling.

During the following nine months, record numbers of Washington-area homeowners decided to sell. In the first half of this year, 106,000 homes were listed, up from 79,000 last year.

This surge in listings contributed to the market’s slowdown.

In a slowing market like the one we have experienced this year, record numbers of listings translate into bloated inventory. The high inventory takes pressure off buyers, enabling them to take their time making a buying decision and encouraging them to bargain more aggressively for a good deal.

That is why home prices have fallen in some jurisdictions and why homes are staying on the market much longer than they did in 2004 and 2005.

Fortunately, things changed a bit during the third quarter of this year. About 46,746 homes were listed from July through September, a drop of 10 percent compared to the same period last year.

This hasn’t yet translated into a significant drop in the available inventory of homes. On Sept. 30, 47,180 homes were available for purchase in the region. That’s virtually the same as in June 30, when the inventory was 48,038 homes.

However, if the number of listings coming on the market continues to drop, we could see inventory figures improve.

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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