- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

April was not the month many were hoping for. Realtors, real estate investors and home sellers were all

hoping for an active spring market to pull the Washington metropolitan region out of the slump it entered in fall 2005.

Because January and February are always fickle months that can be affected by weather, we knew that March and April sales were going to be much better indicators of this year’s sales climate.

While March was a rather good month, raising hopes that the market might be on the rebound, April was not a good month.

Sales fell from March to April, which doesn’t happen very often. About 7,500 existing homes were sold in the metropolitan area last month, a drop of 8 percent compared to March. April looks even worse when compared to April 2006, when sales were 20 percent higher than this year.

The other piece of data required when you study the real estate market is the inventory. At the end of April, there were more than 44,000 homes on the market — 11 percent higher than the inventory was a year ago.

So, inventory went up and sales went down. That is not the direction you want those statistics to be moving if you are hoping for a better sales climate.

Buyers, of course, welcome such news. They have plenty of homes to choose from. Two years ago, only 13,900 homes were available to buyers.

Buyers also benefit from the slow pace of the market. Homes sold in Montgomery County last month had spent 83 days on the market. Those sold in April 2005 were snatched up in only 22 days.

With homes taking two to three months to sell, buyers don’t have to feel pressed to make a decision or to offer a premium in order to beat other buyers.

Plus, the slow pace means that home prices aren’t rising like they once did, so consumers who felt priced out of the market two years ago may be in a better position to buy this year.

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

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