- The Washington Times - Friday, August 28, 2009

Despite the arrival of summer, July was still a relatively active month for Washington-area real estate.

You see, the market usually slows down in the summer after a busy spring of buying and selling. While this July was still a little slower than April, May and June, it wasn’t much slower. Sales remained strong, and the inventory stayed down.

That’s a crucial combination. Look at the lines on the fever chart on the bottom of the page. When those lines are far apart, we have a slow market because there are too many homes for sale and not enough buyers.

Click here for July snapshots: Sales of existing homes vs. inventory

However, this year the lines are much closer to one another than they were last year. Also, even though sales dropped a little from June to July, the inventory also dropped. That kept those two little lines the same distance apart, which means that sales chances remained about the same.

Sales chances are calculated by dividing a month’s sales figures 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.

Looking at the snapshots for area jurisdictions, you’ll see that sales chances vary rather widely around the region, depending on the ratio of inventory to sales in each area.

Time-on-the-market stats also vary quite a bit. After seven months of increased buyer activity, homes are selling much more quickly in Virginia than a year ago. But sales are still rather slow in Maryland.

Homes sold in Fairfax in February had spent an average of 113 days on the market, but that number dropped to just 61 in July. Montgomery sales also got faster during those five months, but only fell from 118 days to 93.

Contact Chris Sicks by e-mail (csicks@gmail.com).

The statistics in this story reflect an 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; Alexandria; and the District.

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