Re­gional home sales climb 13 per­cent

More prop­er­ties traded hands in the Bal­ti­more area than in any Au­gust since ’05

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD - By Natalie Sherman Gina Gargeu, real es­tate agent nsh­er­man@balt­sun.com

“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.

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