Home prices ... up?
Home prices in the Baltimore metro area were among the weakest in the nation this summer, but there are some hopeful signs for frustrated sellers, according to a new report by a real estate data firm.
Prices rose a tenth of a percent in the metro area in the four months ending Sept. 25 vs. the previous three months, California-based Clear Capital said. That’s lower than all but two other major housing markets — Las Vegas and Tucson, Ariz.
But you'll notice that prices are up, not down. It’s the first break in price declines for the Baltimore area since the summer of 2007, the report said.
Kevin Marshall, president of Clear Capital, thinks earlier increases in other parts of the country had a psychological effect on Baltimore buyers.
"People get very scared in real estate that they’re going to miss the bottom," he said. "You have people making decisions based off, for lack of a better term, fear that they’re missing a really good deal."
Clear Capital draws its data from recorders’ and assessors’ offices, calculating price by comparing repeat sales of the same homes over the years. Why the odd "four months ending Sept. 25" vs. the previous three months? Because, Marshall said, the company wants to balance out the desire to include the most up-to-date numbers with the reality that the newest data is often incomplete. So it includes an extra month of sales.
Overall, the metro area has seen more modest price declines than the country as a whole, the report says: 21 percent here since the housing market peaked in 2006 vs. nearly 32 percent nationally.
But decreases have accelerated locally in the last year while moderating elsewhere. Prices fell more than 12 percent in the metro area compared with last summer, compared with just under 10 percent nationwide.
The metro area’s healthiest spot seems to be the 20723 ZIP code in Laurel, where prices fell less than 1 percent vs. a year ago. The report credits the community’s location between Baltimore and Washington.
Hardest-hit was Edgewood, ZIP code 21040 in Harford County. Prices fell almost 25 percent from a year ago, and 34 percent of its sales were homes that had been taken back by banks.
Just under 20 percent of sales in the Baltimore metro area were foreclosed homes, the report estimates. That’s lower than the national average of about 29 percent, reflecting a high level of foreclosures in some markets.
In Las Vegas, for instance, six in every 10 sales this summer were foreclosed homes.