- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sales of existing homes totaled only 6,787 last month, making it the slowest February in nine years.

That surprised me — enough to make me double-check the data. I was puzzled because all the Realtors I speak to these days tell me things are heating up, yet that isn’t what you find in February’s statistics.

Not only were sales lower in February than in January, but time-on-the-market figures went up. If the market really is picking up, then why did fewer homes sell in February, and why did they take longer to sell? Ahh, the miracles of the Internet. How quickly a question can be answered if you know what to look for.

You see, February was 10 degrees colder than January, with three times as much snow.

Differences like that always have an impact on home sales and listings. As I look back over a decade’s worth of sales data, the weather almost always determines whether January or February will have more sales.

So, all I’m trying to say is that buyers didn’t suddenly lose interest in February, causing the market to slow down. Instead, the weather just made it a mediocre month for real estate.

When you consider competitiveness rather than total sales, the market remained nearly the same as it was in January. That’s because the number of homes on the market stayed the same while sales fell by only 400.

Last week, Realtors were telling me that buyer traffic really has heated up in March, and that they are seeing more multiple offers on desirable properties.

If this is true, then we’ll see it in March data — and we’ll begin to get a clearer picture of what the 2007 market will really be like.

• • •

The right column of last week’s chart was mislabeled. It should have read “median.”

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

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