- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

Whether you are interested in buying or selling a home, the housing inventory is going to profoundly affect you. For buyers, today's high inventory is a good thing. This year's home shoppers get to choose from about 40,000 Washington-area homes on any given day. With inventory that large, buyers can often get concessions from sellers. That's because the smart sellers know buyers can always look elsewhere.

Today's fever chart shows the active inventory of homes for sale. It is encouraging to see that inventory is lower than it was a year ago, but it is still high by historical standards.

When inventory is this high, sellers have to think carefully about how to prepare their home and how much to ask for it. When buyers have so many homes to choose from, they're not going to buy yours if it's out of shape and overpriced.

Besides, home shoppers don't have to buy anything at all. There are plenty of rentals from which to choose. Looking at the chart of rental listings, you can see that the number of homes listed for rent with area Realtors has more than doubled since 2003.

The number of rental vacancies has also risen, along with the number of homeowner vacancies. According to census data, the number of homeowner vacancies has doubled in our region since 2005.

See this week’s chart here (opens pdf document)

Some of these vacancies are homes that are under foreclosure. Many of these were taken back by the bank that held the mortgage, which then lists the home with an area Realtor. The surge in resale listings from 2006 to 2008 shown on the charts was due in part to the large number of foreclosures coming on the market.

Fortunately, fewer homes were listed for sale this year. In fact, listings during the first two months of the year are almost as low as they had been in 2004.

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


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