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November 10, 2009

Asking prices for homes in Baltimore and D.C., as some of you know, calculates the typical asking price for homes listed for sale in a number of markets. It lets you see at a glance how much prices have fallen in, let's say, the past two years in the Baltimore metro area. (Answer: Seventeen percent.)

But Wonk reader John noticed something interesting that's not simply about how much things have dropped in one market. The typical asking price this month in the metro area around Washington, D.C. -- $300,000 -- is what the typical Baltimore-area asking price was in November 2007.

"Just thought this was an interesting statistic," John noted in an email.

One of those things that makes you go "hmm," all right.

Right now the typical Baltimore-area asking price is about $250,000, or $50,000 less than D.C.'s. It was  $94,000 less two years ago.

Rapidly rising prices in D.C. during the boom/bubble helped drive D.C. workers to Baltimore and 'burbs for cheaper homes. As the price difference narrows, that's less likely -- for purely price reasons, anyway.

Are you a D.C.-area worker who lives or is thinking of living in the Baltimore area?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing stats


I'm a native Baltimorean working in DC. But I actually bought in March. I was looking at buying in Baltimore, but several things led me to buy in Northern Virginia.

First, the taxes. The property taxes on similarly priced homes was twice as much as NOVA's. And when you factor in the income tax difference, I would be paying several hundred dollars more a month to live in Baltimore. Second, Baltimore's home prices just didnt seem to drop as far as DC's. Homes in the DC area were still more expensive, but they had dropped much more than homes in Baltimore.

So I bought a slightly more expensive place in NOVA, but that was balanced out by the cheaper taxes and shorter commute.

When I visit this blog it often makes me feel like I'm participating in a real time Orwell Novel.

A perpetual re-stating of elemental characteristics but with slightly varying emphasis on relatively meaningless until at some point up will have has become down and right become left.

MrRational, do you really think this observation is meaningless? Asking prices in the D.C. area do have an impact on our housing market.

I certainly hope the entire exercise of keeping this blog going isn't meaningless, because most of it is done on my own time. (I'd hate to think I'm spinning my wheels when I could be, say, relaxing in bed with a book.)

If you don't think this is worth your time to read, tell me what would be. I aim to please.

I completely disagree Mr. Rational. As a Baltimore resident working and commuting to DC, I have been paying very close attention to prices around the DC area. I purchased a few years in back in Baltimore because I could get a much nicer place for cheaper than DC. Even with taxes and commuting costs it made unbelievable sense. Mikepcfl is on the same page as me. Given taxes and costs of commuting, the DC area turns into a much more realistic option with the downturn in the DC area. I’ve looked at DC area homes with taxes and my home with taxes and commute and I would be saving money and getting just as nice of a place.

I’m also not sure how you compare this blog to an Orwell novel. Did you forget to drink your coffee again this morning?

The drop in home prices in the D.C area is mostly attributed to the higher foreclosure rates in PG, Montgomery, and Northern VA counties. As foreclosures in those areas become more prevalent, prices drop. It's pretty simple. If you look at the foreclosure data, those areas have been way overpriced for quite some time. Those areas also depend heavily on Gov't jobs. When the Gov't lays off workers and stops hiring, people can't pay their mortgage. No one should be surprised to see that the DC area has lost more value than the Baltimore metro area.

Frank, What are you talking about? The federal government isn't laying people off. They are hiring. Actually one of the largest hiring initiatives ever. Washington has lost construction and some contractor jobs, but the bust in DC is not related to job losses (nor is it anywhere) it is related to bad loans & speculative housing costs. The slow recovery is somewhat related to employment but not overwhelmingly so. DC went up more than Bmore thus is goes down more.

Been keeping an eye on DC, too. I still don't think I'm seeing the prices of attractive homes in the DC area approaching prices that I think are reasonable. They're down from the bubble, but still ... $500K still doesn't buy something as nice in DC area as you can get for $400K (or somewhat less, at the moment) in some if the most attractive Baltimore neighborhoods.

I am a native washingtonian who relocated to Baltimore City because of the less expensive real estate prices last year before the prices really came down in the DC area....I was lucky to get a single family detached home here in Baltimore for less than 200K in a very decent neighborhood...I could never get that, even today in WDC....I commute to WDC and figured the long term benefits of homeownership outweighed a 45 minute ride.....

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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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