Friday, April 9, 2010

In last week’s column, we looked at the number of homes on the market in each area jurisdiction. Those figures showed that some cities and counties have a larger portion of their total housing stock up for sale than others.

This week, let’s step back and look at inventory for the entire Washington metropolitan area - and we’re not only looking at the inventory of homes for sale, but rentals as well.

The first numbers to look at are resale listings for the first quarter of 2010. This tells us how many homes were listed for sale with area Realtors during those three months. You can see that it’s pretty much the same as it was last year, but much lower than 2006 through 2008. Those were the years when the market was burdened with too many unsold homes, which caused prices to drop.

PDF: Charting the market

A lot of those homes that didn’t sell were then listed for rent. You can see how rental listings jumped. (These are only homes listed for rent with a Realtor.)

The number of unsold homes also caused rental and homeowner vacancies to rise, as you can see in the data from the U.S. Census.

What do all these numbers mean for you as a buyer or seller? For sellers, it means you won’t face as much competition as you did a few years ago. It will be easier to sell your home, and if you price it correctly, you might get what you’re asking for.

Buyers will find attractive homes that are priced properly won’t stay on the market very long. You need to be ready to act when the right house comes on the market.

Buyers and sellers will both want to watch the unsold inventory numbers. The bottom chart shows that the number of available homes (the active inventory on the last day of each month) is now much lower than it was in 2007 through 2009.

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