- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

When folks speak of “the real estate market,” it’s hard to know just what they’re speaking of - the national market? The mid-Atlantic or Washington market? If Washington, then how do they define the Washington region?

Plus, there are such a variety of communities and home types that it sometimes is hard to make any generalizations about real estate at all.

Charting the market: Home statistics for June, 2009.

Today’s charts illustrate the point well, I think. I’ve given you the number of sales and the active inventory in June for 15 jurisdictions in our area. The data is broken down further into detached homes, attached homes (usually town homes) and condos.

Finally, each jurisdiction and home type has a sales chance percentage that indicates whether it was a buyer’s market or seller’s market for that home type and area.

You will see that Charles and Prince George’s counties are great for homebuyers these days because there are so many more homes than buyers. That’s what causes the sales-chances figure to be low.

Sales chances are my way of measuring the level of competition in the real estate market. Dividing sales figures for the month by the inventory on the last day of the month results 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.

On the other hand, Fairfax County was quite good to sellers last month, with chances of 26 percent for detached homes and an incredible 36 percent for town homes. Sales chances that high means buyers are competing with one another, and that will keep prices up.

Interestingly, attached homes seem to be selling better than other home types in most of the Washington region. This has been true all year, as the inventory for attached homes has fallen and sales have risen.

In Loudoun County, for instance, there were only 569 attached homes still available on June 30. In June 2006, that figure was 1,556. So the inventory is only about a third of what it was three years ago, yet June sales were the same as in 2006.

Obviously, these two factors make Loudoun a much better market for sellers of town homes than it was just three years ago: Chances were 31 percent last month, but only 12 percent in June 2006.

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

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