- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The market warmed up a bit for sellers in January, as inventory held steady and sales climbed.

The inventory of homes on the market in the Washington metropolitan area was a little over 34,000 last month — a tad lower than it was in December.

Sales, however, went from 5,853 to 7,153. Combining those sales with the inventory number gives us a sales chance figure of 21 percent. That marks the highest point for sales chances since May.

Sales chances are calculated by dividing a month’s sales figures for by the inventory on the last day of the month, resulting 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.

Chances jumped up the most in Arlington County, hitting 34 percent last month. But you didn’t have to go far from the Beltway before chances dropped sharply. Sales chances were only 13 percent in Prince William County, which means buyers continue to have a strong advantage there.

Despite the overall rise in sales chances in January, the homes that were sold last month had been on the market a long time. Time on the market figures were over 100 days in many jurisdictions. Only the communities close to or inside the Beltway were below 100 days.

Homes sold most quickly in Prince George’s County, at 72 days. Still, that is nearly twice as long as a year ago.

Prince William County may have slowed more than anywhere else since last year. Homes sold there in January 2006 had spent an average of 55 days on the market. Last month, the figure was 126 days.

Of course, time-on-the-market data for January tends to be a bit skewed. Remember that November, December and January are the three slowest months of the year.

So it naturally follows that time-on-the-market figures are going to be highest for homes sold in January.

Contact Chris Sicks by 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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