- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

Anyone who is trying to sell a home these days knows competition is strong. There were about 40,000 Washington-area homes listed for sale at the end of February. That’s far more than in the first half of the decade. In February 2005, there were fewer than 10,000 available listings.

Homes are moving more slowly than they were four years ago, lingering on the market and causing the number of listings to grow. When you compare the area’s jurisdictions, you can see some markets are carrying a heavier load of unsold properties.

Take, for instance, one of the region’s most competitive markets: Arlington County. According to census data, there were 101,163 housing units in Arlington as of July 2007.

To download a PDF of the chart, click here

At the end of February, 925 of those homes were on the market - just nine-tenths of 1 percent of Arlington’s total housing inventory. It was the only jurisdiction to have such a small percentage of the housing stock up for sale.

Most of the other close-in jurisdictions posted percentages of 1 to 2 percent, while communities farther out usually have more than 2 percent of their homes on the market.

Prince William County had three times as many homes on the market as Arlington County, which isn’t a surprise. The high foreclosure rate in Prince William has flooded that area with vacant homes.

However, things in Prince William have improved quite a bit in the past year. In March 2008, more than 5 percent of the county’s housing stock was listed for sale. Since then, buyers have been drawn to Prince William by the low home prices, so sales have risen and inventory has dropped. Even though February’s 2.7 percent was one of the highest figures in the region, it was much lower than it was a year ago.

There is a correlation between these figures and home prices. Home values have fallen sharply in Prince William - and that is a direct result of so many properties competing for a limited pool of buyers.

In Arlington and the District, where less housing stock is up for sale, prices haven’t experienced the sharp declines we’ve seen outside the Beltway.

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

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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