4th Straight Month with Double-Digit Sales Growth in Baltimore Metro

Posted on February 11, 2013 by Corey Hart



Townhomes lead the way; Despite strong sales, prices are flat and decline in many areas


The supply of active listings in the Baltimore Metro Area housing market continues to shrink, and is at the lowest January-level in eight years.  However, the pattern appears to be changing slowly with new listings, which had the highest year-over-year gain since Spring 2011.  New listings are also up across all property segments, which has not occurred in over 2 years.  Even with the shifting pattern in new listings, the overall inventory still remains low.  There are a wide range of factors that could be keeping sellers from listing their properties.  Many could not have enough equity at current prices to “trade up” into a larger unit.  Others may have trouble finding a unit to begin with because the inventory is so low.  Economic uncertainty also remains a key issue on the table for many.  Signs of demand in the market remain strong.  Sales growth has been consistent in the region, and new contract activity has exceeded its 10-year average.  Despite the sales growth and low inventory, prices are flat metro-wide, and have declined in several jurisdictions.  This could be an early indication of softening demand, but it could also signal a change in the types of units purchased.  Evidence of this can be seen in the townhome market, which led in year-over-year sales growth for the first time in 3 years, and year-over-year new contract growth for the first time in 1 ½ years.

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Fourth straight month of double-digit sales growth, townhomes lead growth for the first time in 3 years.  There were 1,538 sales in January in the Baltimore Metro region, a 15.3 percent gain from this time last year.  Sales fell sharply from last month, down 20.9 percent, but this is in line with seasonal patterns.  While sales numbers have improved from last year, the region is still roughly 200 sales shy of the 10-year January average.  Townhomes had the largest year-over-year gain of all property segments, rising 23.6 percent from January 2012.  This is the first time townhomes have led in year-over-year sales growth since February 2010.  After a dramatic 41.5 percent year-over-year sales gain last month, the condo market posted only a 2.0 percent gain in sales from January 2012.  Sales of single-family detached homes rose 12.6 percent from this time last year.  Single-family homes now account for 47.8 percent of all sales in the Baltimore Metro market, which is the highest proportion in nearly 2 years.


Median sales price flat and declining in many jurisdictions, prices for condos and townhome fall.  At $209,250, the median sales price in the Baltimore region is essentially unchanged from this time last year, rising only $880.  This is the slowest year-over-year price growth the region has seen since January 2012.  Single-family detached homes led in growth, up 5.9 percent from this time last year.  Condos and townhomes both had median sales price declines of 6.2 percent.  Median sales prices fell in many jurisdictions around the region.  Baltimore City had the largest decline, falling 12.4 percent from January 2012.  Carroll County was the only area to see double-digit price gains, up 17.6 percent from this time last year.  The decline in sales prices could be reflective of the types of properties sold in the region.  As noted earlier, townhomes had the largest year-over-year gain in sales and the price points on these units tend to be lower.  It could also be an early sign of softening demand in the region.


New contract activity continues to improve and exceeds 10-year average; townhomes lead in growth.  There were 2,353 new contracts signed in January in the metro region, up 12.2 percent from this time last year, and the highest January total in 6 years.  New contract activity rose 26.8 percent from last month, but this is in line with seasonality.  Townhomes led all property segments in year-over-year growth, up 25.6 percent from January 2012.  This is the first time townhomes have led in new contract growth in 18 months.  New contracts on condos are up 9.0 percent from last year, and new contracts on single-family detached homes rose 4.2 percent.  New contract levels for all property types are near their 10-year averages for the month, with townhomes the only segment exceeding the 10-year average by 26 contracts.


Active listings are at their lowest January-level in 8 years; however the pattern continues to change.  There were 9,386 active listings at the end of January in the Baltimore Metro Area, 23.0 percent below this time last year.  This is the lowest January inventory for the region since 2005.  Despite the shrinking inventory, new listings continue to show signs of growth.  There were 3,009 new listings in January, 6.2 percent higher than this time last year, and the largest gain since Spring 2011.  The pattern is taking hold across all property segments.  New listings for condos are up 14.2 percent from January 2012.  Townhomes and single-family detached listings rose 7.3 and 4.1 percent respectively.  This is the first time all property segments have had year-over-year growth in new listings in 2 years.  The low inventory of homes for sale is having an impact on the median days-on-market, which was 51 days in January, down 34 days from this time last year.  The sale-to-list-price ratio also continues to rise as a result of the inventory conditions, and is now 91.5 percent, up from 87.9 percent a year ago.

Baltimore Metro Area, market analysis
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