- - Thursday, September 27, 2012

Buyers were just as competitive in August as they had been in July, despite a small decrease in the number of overall sales contracts.

Just more than 7,500 contracts were ratified in the Washington area in August. Ratified, as you probably know, means signed by both buyer and seller. Settlement, also known as closing, comes later, after home inspection, appraisal, loan approval and such.

July saw 7,761 contracts — a little more than August. But, because the inventory of unsold homes also fell from July to August, the sales-chances figure for the metro area remained unchanged at 41 percent.

Sales chances are a simple way to capture the competitiveness of our market. You can see monthly chances for the past 12 months in today’s bottom chart.

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.

You can see on the chart that chances were higher in the spring. You also can see why: Sales were higher, which brought the inventory and sales lines closer together on the chart.

In 2011 and 2010, those lines were farther apart, which is why chances were much lower in those years.

The other charts I’ve given you show sales-chance data for individual jurisdictions, which vary quite widely from the regional figure of 41 percent.

Prince George’s County in Maryland and much of Northern Virginia were over 50 percent last month, making them strong seller’s markets. Anne Arundel and Charles counties were balanced markets at 24 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

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