- - Thursday, May 26, 2011

As I mentioned last week, this April’s home sales just could not compete with those of April 2010. April sales this year were down by 15 percent compared with last April.

The reason April 2010 was so unusually strong was the federal homebuyer tax credits that expired April 30. Many of last April’s 10,000 homebuyers were motivated by that deadline.

Although sales were down last month, total sales for the first four months of 2011 were 4 percent higher than last year, so it’s turning out to be a good year for sellers.

Sales chances were 31 percent for the Washington metro area in April, lower than March’s 35 percent. Other than March, it was the best month for sellers since last spring. Sellers had the easiest time finding buyers in Fairfax and Prince William counties, where chances were above 40 percent last month.

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. Typically, a figure below 20 percent indicates a buyer’s market. Higher figures mean we’re in a balanced market or a seller’s market.

Chances in the Washington area were lowest in Anne Arundel County, where buyers still have leverage over sellers because there are a lot of unsold homes in the inventory.

Because the region’s total inventory grew by more than 2,000 homes from March to April, it’s unlikely we’ll see chances rise to 35 percent again this year.

That’s because sales always decline as we head into summer and fall, and they really drop off during the last two months of the year. Yet unsold homes in the inventory typically linger.

Put another way, sales drop sooner than inventory. So the most competitive season of the 2011 real estate market is probably already behind us. That said, it still will be a far better market than 2008 and 2009 were.

Chris Sicks

Send email to csicks@gmail.com.

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