Baltimore-area home sales, prices rise in December
Baltimore-area home sales and prices continued on an upward trend in December, as inventory fell below 10,000 for the first time since January 2014.
Just under 3,200 Baltimore-area home sales closed in December, up 5 percent from the previous year and the highest level of December sales in a decade, according to a monthly report released Wednesday by ShowingTime.
The median sale price for the Baltimore area was $245,000, up 4.3 percent from December 2015 and the highest December price since 2008, according to the report, which is based on data from the MRIS regional listing service.
Meanwhile, the number of new and active listings declined compared with December 2015.
There were 2,651 new listings in December, down 3.9 percent from a year before.
Active listings for December dropped 17.3 percent from the same time the year before. With a total of 9,599 active listings, December marked the first month since January 2014 with under 10,000 listings and the 16th consecutive month of declining year-over-year inventory in the Baltimore area.
“Part of it is just the volume that’s being sold — sales are high — and Baltimore [homes], because of their prices, are conducive to first-time homebuyers,” Andrew Strauch, a vice president at MRIS, said of the declining inventory.
As the number of available homes declined, those properties also spent less time on the market. Baltimore-area homes were on the market a median of 42 days in December, compared with 47 days the year before, which is the lowest level in a decade, according to the report.
Bill Magruder, a Realtor at Long & Foster’s Lake Roland office, said he is optimistic inventory will start to grow again, as people who put off listing their homes during the holidays enter the market.
“I think they sometimes put home selling on the back burner,” Magruder said. “It’s our hope and belief that in January inventory is going to pick up. We’re already starting to see it.”
All six jurisdictions in the Baltimore area saw an increase in the number of home sales. All but one, Harford County, saw increased median sales prices, too.
Carroll County saw the biggest increase in December home prices and sales. The median sale price rose 17.3 percent to $299,900, and the number of sales closed, 193, was a 14.2 percent increase over December 2015.
Anne Arundel County had the second-highest growth in median sales price, $320,500, an 8.5 percent increase from the previous year. Sales increased 4 percent.
The median home price in Baltimore was $125,000, up 4.2 percent, with sales up 5.8 percent.
In Baltimore County, the median home price was $224,675, up 6 percent. Sales rose 1 percent, the smallest sales growth among the Baltimore-area jurisdictions.
Howard County had a median sales price of $397,500, an increase of 4.6 percent. Sales there increased by 7.3 percent.
In Harford County, the median sales price declined slightly, by 0.3 percent, to $229,900. Sales there increased 9.9 percent.
A decline in distressed properties, or bank-owned homes, contributed to the rise in median sale prices, said T. Ross Mackesey, a sales manager at Long & Foster’s Greenspring Valley/Lutherville office.
Bank-owned houses typically have lower sale prices than other houses, so when fewer of them are sold, the median sale price for an area goes up.
Mackesey said he thinks strong consumer confidence also helped December home sales.
Whether the trend continues into this year will depend on a lot of factors, such as whether interest rates rise and how President-elect Donald Trump’s administration affects the area, which is home to several federal agencies and thousands of government workers, he said.
“Anecdotally, we are as busy for this time of year, mid-January, as I have seen it in a long time,” Mackesey said.