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April 1, 2009

Real estate by the numbers

A few of the notable housing-related numbers I've seen in the past few days:

4.61 percent: the average interest rate (not including points) for 30-year fixed mortgages, the Mortgage Bankers Association said today. That's the lowest since the trade group started its survey in 1990. 

31 percent: the decrease in vacation homes sold last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales of investment homes dropped 17 percent and primary-home sales fell 13 percent. The survey includes new as well as previously occupied properties.

40 percent: the portion of all home sales that were for vacation or investment purposes in 2005, the "peak year for home speculation," as the NAR puts it.

30 percent: the portion of all home sales that were for vacation or investment purposes in 2008

$808,500: the winning bid (including buyer's premium) for a 4,400-square-foot Federal Hill home, auctioned off Tuesday to benefit an animal charity.

Seen other interesting numbers?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:44 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats


When mortgage interest rates eventually skyrocket and home prices go down -- will there be more mortgage writedowns then? Since housing prices haven't really dropped in the Baltimore area - I am thinking of buying a house I can't really afford too much right now but hope to in the future. Is this a good strategy? Everyone I turn-- real estate "professionals", Jim Cramer, my friends who own real property tell me real estate has bottomed. I am scared prices are going to really skyrocket again here soon. help!!

Hi, Ned -- you can also find economists (Moody's among them) who think home prices have not yet bottomed. Their argument is generally that prices are out of whack with incomes and rental costs, and that therefore they aren't going to skyrocket anytime soon.

But it's not unusual to have wildly different opinions about something economic. (You see it all the time with stocks.) And just as the drop in home prices hasn't been uniform across the country, what happens in local neighborhoods could vary, too.

That's why, in the end, potential buyers need to decide for themselves. You know your situation better than anyone, right?

I get what economists are saying about home prices being out of whack with salaries but I am unsure if that matters these days. I make a pretty good chunk of cash I guess (just got into 6 figures last year) and I have to be honest. If you are only supposed to spend 30% of your salary on a home...there are not that many "attractive places" for me to choose from currently. How are people who make less than me buying places? How can they afford it? Isn't the median salary around Baltimore about $75,000 or so? When I made $75,000 - I didn't even remotely think about buying a $282,000 place......I guess you have be married or have a business partner?

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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