Here is an inventory chart that includes the "Jim Ratio", assuming that the difference between "active" and "total" is in fact "pending" according to these numbers at Virginia MLS.
The Jim Ratio is Realtor/Blogger Jim Klinge's ratio of the number of active listings, divided by the number of pending listings.
under 3 -- Hot market
3-4 -- Regular market
4-5 -- Market in trouble
5-7 -- Too many choices, buyers are winning
7+ -- Freefall
Update 3/3 - Cara clarifies that these numbers are fudgey for us in this current market where most sales in PWC (for example) are foreclosure sales (I don't know the exact percentage, but let's say conservatively more than half). I opened this post by saying "assuming" normal "pendings" are the difference between active and total listings. But this isn't a normal market, considering all the foreclosure sales. And inventory might be artificially low due to banks holding onto shadow inventory and sellers being reluctant to list unless it's absolutely necessary. Cara also makes a very good point about lingering listings that should normally be removed faster but tend to stay on and stink up the place.
"Cara said ... Another obvious thing to point out about the Jim numbers. In most market times REO and short sales are the exception. So, the average time from contract to close is longer now than normal, thus many more zombie listings (or nascent sales) are on the MLS than would usually be the case. At a guess this could be corrected for by adding 0.5 to 1.0 to the Jim ratio. This still makes PWC a healthy market, but not hot. Maybe this was too obvious for anyone to bother pointing it out. But comparing these numbers directly to years past when closings were less complicated is obviously fraught with fudge factors."
These inventory numbers were extrapolated from VirginiaMLS.com. The total "Northern Virginia Inventory" represent the combined housing inventory (that's listed on the MLS) of Alexandria City, Arlington County, Fairfax City, Fairfax County, Falls Church City, Loudoun County, Manassas City, Manassas Park City, and Prince William County.