Regional home sales climb 13 percent
More properties traded hands in the Baltimore area than in any August since ’05
“I don’t think there’s any shortage of buyers out there.”
Home sales accelerated in the Baltimore area last month, bouncing back after falling in July as increasing incomes and the looming possibility of an interest rate increase pushed buyers to the closing table.
Nearly 3,750 homes were sold in Baltimore City and the five surrounding counties in August, up 13 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to a report released Tuesday by the ShowingTime RBI research firm. More properties traded hands than in any August since 2005.
Despite the activity, cost appreciation remained subdued, with the regional median price rising 2 percent year-over-year to $255,000, according to the report, which is based on data from the MRIS listing service.
“All the numbers are looking strong,” said Kim Mingo, a consultant for MRIS, who cited the possibility of increasing interest rates as one reason for the activity. “They’re going up in all the right places, so hopefully we’ll see a good fall.”
The price growth partly reflected an 11 percent decline in distressed sales, which typically are cheaper than standard sales. They remain elevated, accounting for 16 percent of the transactions, according to the MRIS data.
Not including distressed properties, the median sales price was $282,000, down about 1 percent from August 2015.
Townhomes drove the sales gains in August, with sales of that more affordable housing category increasing more than 20 percent from last year. Sales of condos rose 10 percent, while sales of detached homes increased about 9 percent.
Many listings receive multiple offers, but unless the property is underpriced, buyers are unlikely to enter into a bidding war, said Gina Gargeu, a real estate agent with Century 21 Downtown.
“I don’t think there’s any shortage of buyers out there,” she said. But, she added, “people don’t seem to be overpaying for things.”
The federal government reported Tuesday that the median U.S. household income increased in 2015 for the first time since 2007.
As people start to see bigger paychecks, they’re returning to the housing market, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their conservative approach, said Patricia Savani, a vice president at Champion Realty in Annapolis.
“People are still price-sensitive,” she said. “They’re coming off of 10 years of ho-hum and they’re not going to go crazy and pay a lot.
Buyers are also seeing fewer options as the sales activity eats inventory. The number of properties for sale fell nearly 13 percent in August compared to the previous year, with a typical home on the market for just 29 days.
Many expect the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates later this year, which would have ripple effects into long-term mortgage rates.
Baltimore saw overall sales rise 14 percent and the median sales price jump 15 percent to $133,700.
In Baltimore County the median sales price climbed about 5 percent year-overyear to $225,000, while sales increased 7 percent. The median sales price in Carroll County increased about 2 percent, reaching $300,000, while sales grew about11percent.
In Anne Arundel County, the median sales price held steady around $314,000, even as sales jumped 16 percent.
The median price fell in Harford and Howard counties, which were also the only two jurisdictions to have more distressed sales than a year ago. The median sales price fell nearly 5 percent in Harford County to $243,900, while sales jumped nearly 20 percent.
In Howard County, which remained the region’s most expensive jurisdiction, the median sales price dropped 2 percent to $400,000 as sales increased about 14 percent.