If you don't absolutely, positively have to sell a home at the moment, how do you figure out if you really, honestly want to? Once you get past the financials - how much do you owe, how much could you get - you might consider how many homes in your neck of the woods are selling and how many are sitting.
If you're a would-be buyer, you'll probably want to know that, too. The more homes sitting on the market, the harder it is for homeowners to sell and the easier it is for buyers to make a deal, all else being equal.
You can ask an agent to run the numbers. Or you can check out your county or ZIP code at Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' statistics page, comparing sales with "active listings" - the number of homes on the market. Go to mris.com/reports/stats.
Wonk that I am, I crunched the numbers for Maryland's counties and Baltimore City in May, as collected by the Maryland Association of Realtors from MRIS and the Coastal Association of Realtors. You can see the results at baltimoresun.com/realestatewonk. Click on "How-to Mondays" under the Categories heading.
Bottom line: Somerset County on the Eastern Shore was really buffeted in May. Fewer than half a dozen homes sold. With 342 properties on the market, that's 68 listings for every sale. Another way of looking at that: It would take 68 months, or more than 51/2 years, to sell all those homes if buying continues at the same pace there.
Garrett, Talbot, Worcester and Kent counties all topped 20 months in May, well above the state average of a year.
The Baltimore metro area looks pretty good by comparison, ranging from a high of 11 months in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City to a low of about eight months in Baltimore County and Howard. No other Maryland jurisdiction had a lower share of listings vs. sales than Howard.
Still, most of the Baltimore-area jurisdictions saw sales fall about as fast as the state average in May vs. a year earlier - 31 percent.
Find Jamie's blog at baltimoresun.com/realestatewonk.