Strong sales growth in Baltimore Metro area, pending contracts up by nearly 25%

Posted on October 12, 2015 by Corey Hart



Median sales prices fall, inventory declines for first time in two years

Rockville, MD – (October 12, 2015) – The following analysis of the Baltimore Metro Area housing market has been prepared by Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. of RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI) and is based on September 2015 MRIS housing data.


The Baltimore Metro housing market enjoyed a strong start to the fall season, with closed and pending sales at their highest September levels in a least a decade and both exhibiting double-digit growth over the prior year. Median sales prices were down slightly, while median days on market inched up.  For the first time in two years, inventory growth was negative, even though new listings rose. 

There were 2,964 closed sales in September, an increase of 17.9% from September 2014, although down 10.7% from last month.  The number of new contracts increased 24.4% from the prior year to 3,495.  The overall median September sales price of $235,000 was down $9,700 or 4% from last year, and down $15,000 or 6% from last month.  The median sales price for single-family detached declined 4.1% to $290,000, townhome prices remained unchanged at $175,000 and condos increased 2.5% to $205,000.  Month-over-month prices were down 7.9% for single-family detached and 5.5% for townhomes, but up 8.0% for condos.  Total sold dollar volume across the Baltimore Metro region in September was up 13.4% from last year to nearly $805 million.

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Compared to last year, inventories declined a slight 0.8% to 14,351 total active listings, with the number of condos decreasing by 4.0% to 1,241, townhome listings increasing by 4.0% to 4,742 and single-family detached listings decreasing by 2.8% to 8,368.  New listings of 4,949 are 5.5% higher than September 2014.  Median days-on-market (DOM) rose to 45, which is one day more than last year and six days more than last month.

Despite healthy sales growth, the large percentage of distressed sales seems to be preventing price growth.  In September 2015, there were 552 REO (foreclosure) and 126 short sales across the Baltimore Metro Region for a total of 678 distressed transactions, or 22.9% of all closed sales.  This is up from a 21.0% share in September 2014 and 17.1% in September 2013. Regionally, the median sales price for foreclosures is only $105,994 and for short sales is $170,000, while the median sales price for non-distressed transactions is $268,000.  The percentage of bank-mediated properties remains elevated in the Baltimore Metro area and thus continues to exert downward pressure on prices.


Best September sales in at least a decade, all property types experience double-digit growth. There were 2,964 closed sales in September 2015, marking the highest September tally since 2005 and the tenth consecutive month with a double-digit increase in closed sales.  Overall sales increased 17.9% compared to last year, although down 10.7% over last month.  Condos showed the highest level of growth of 22.5% to 348 sales, townhomes increased by 21.2% to 1,034 sales and single-family detached increased by 14.9% to 1,582 sales.  September sales comfortably exceed the 5-year average of 2,363 by 25.4% and the 10-year average of 2,302 by 28.8%.  Across the entire metro area, the number of January through September sales of 27,148 compared to last year is up 21.7%, and across the region, all jurisdictions show increases in the number of sales for the month and double-digit growth for the year to date.



Record-setting level of new September contracts, all property classes show strong double-digit growth in pending sales. With 3,495 new contracts during September 2015, this was easily the highest September level in the past decade.  The number of new contracts increased 24.4% compared to last year and dipped 1.6% compared to last month, a softer decline than the ten-year seasonal average drop of 9.2 percent from August to September. New contracts have now risen year-over-year for 16 consecutive months, and except for August’s slight decline in new condo contracts, all property segments have had more pending contracts than the prior year for the last 12 months.  New pending contracts exceeded the 5-year average of 2,676 by 30.6% and the 10-year average of 2,373 by 47.3%.

The number of new contracts for townhomes increased 36.3% to 1,268, while condos rose by 19.4% to 345 and single-family detached rose 18.3% to 1,882.  Compared to last month, pending sales of condos decreased by 7.8% and single-family detached declined by 3.4%, although townhomes increased by 3.2%. 


Overall median sales prices tick down slightly year-over-year led by decline in single-family detached prices.  Median sales prices dipped 4.0% to $235,000 compared to September 2014.  Single-family detached declined 4.1% to $290,000, but townhomes remained unchanged at $175,000 and condos rose 2.5% to $205,000.  Compared to last month, single-family detached homes median sales prices were down 7.9%, while townhome prices decreased by 5.5% and condos rose 8.0%.  Overall median sales prices are just slightly below the 5-year average of $237,260 and the 10-year average of $244,145.  The regional year-to-date median sales price of $240,650 is 1.4% below last year’s comparable price.

Sales activity was up across the region but prices were mostly down.  The median sales price in Howard County was unchanged at $370,000 on 345 sales, a 20.2% increase compared to last month.  The median sales price in Anne Arundel County decreased by 6.7% to $289,900 on 693 transactions, which was a 25.5% increase.  Carroll County saw a 15.5% increase in the number of sales to 179, but with a 3.6% decrease in median sales price to $265,000.  The median sales price in Harford County dropped 8.1% to $225,000 on 275 closed sales, which was an increase of 9.1%.  There was a very strong 23.7% increase in the number of sales to 882 in Baltimore County but with a 7.0% decrease in median sales price to $199,950.  Baltimore City median sales price declined 3.0% to $112,000 on 590 sales, which was a 6.3% increase over last year.



Year-over-year active inventories decline for the first time in two years, new listings continue to rise.  There were 14,351 properties on the market at the end of September, a decline of 0.8% compared to last year.  For the first time in two years, inventory growth was negative, marking the end of a growth pattern that began in October 2013 and reached a high point in September 2014.  Compared to last year, the number of townhome listings increased by 4.0% to 4,742, but the number of single-family detached listings dropped 2.8% to 8,368 and the number of condo listings dropped 4.0% to 1,241. Compared to last month, active inventory is up slightly by 1.8%, with single-family detached up 1.2%, townhomes up 3.7%, and condos down 0.6%.  Active inventory exceeds the 5-year average of 13,671 but is still below the 10-year average of 16,159.  Active listings at the end of September are up in slightly in Baltimore County and Baltimore City, but down in the rest of the region. 

The number of new listings rose 5.5% to 4,949, the highest September level since 2007.  New listings for townhomes rose by 14.9% to 1,846, followed by single-family detached which increased by 2.5% to 2,656.  The number of new condo listings decreased by 9.7% to 446.  There have now been year-over-year increases in the number of new listings for 30 consecutive months, and the number of new listings easily exceeds both the 5-year average of 4,010 and the 10-year average of 4,371.  The overall number of new listings is up compared to last month by 4.7%, with townhomes up 12.2%, single-family detached up 1.8% and condos down 5.7%.  The 44,725 new listings for the period January-September are up 8.5% compared to last year. 


At 45 days, the median days-on-market (DOM) increased by one day compared to last year and six days from last month.  Median days-on-market remains comfortably lower than the 5-year September average of 49 days and well below the 10-year average of 56 days.  Townhomes move most quickly, with a median DOM of 40 days, while single-family detached have a median DOM of 48 and condos have a median DOM of 47.  Properties in Howard County have the lowest median DOM of 40 (up from 36 days last year), while those in Harford County are the highest at 56 days (down from 59 last year).



About the RBI Metro Housing Market Update

The Baltimore Metro Area Housing Market Update provides unique insights into the state of the current housing market by measuring the number of new pending sales, trends by home characteristics, and key indicators through the most recent month compiled directly from Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data in RBI’s proprietary database. The Baltimore Metro Area housing market includes the City of Baltimore, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County in Maryland.

About RealEstate Business Intelligence, LLC

RealEstate Business Intelligence, LLC (RBI) is a primary source of real estate data, analytics and business intelligence for real estate professionals in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Monthly reports for all jurisdictions in the MRIS region, along with interactive charts and graphics, can be found at RBI is the only company in the Mid-Atlantic region that provides timely, online access to statistical information directly from the MRIS MLS.

About Elliot Eisenberg

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is the Chief Economist of GraphsandLaughs, LLC, a firm specializing in economic consulting and data analysis.  He is a frequent speaker on topics including: economic forecasts, economic impact of industries such as homebuilding and tourism, consequences of government regulation, economic development and other current economic issues. Dr. Eisenberg earned a B.A. in economics with first class honors from McGill University in Montreal, as well as a Masters and Ph.D. in public administration from Syracuse University. Eisenberg was formerly a Senior Economist with the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C.   He is a regularly featured guest on cable news programs, talk and public radio, writes a syndicated column and authors a daily 70 word commentary on the economy that is available at

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