2009: An up year for home sales, if nothing else
It looks like 2009 is the year that shook off the housing slump. The dropping-sales part of that slump, anyway -- at least for now.
The number of home sales in the Baltimore metro area rose 3 percent last year, at least according to preliminary numbers. That's the first annual increase since 2005, the last hurrah of the buying frenzy.
Prices took longer to peak -- on average, at least, they were rising until well into 2007. Last year, they dropped about 9 percent, bringing the average to $280,000 in the Baltimore metro area. (That's below the 2005 figure, for those of you keeping score.)
Read more about it in today's story, or see the monthly figures at Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' website. MRIS doesn't tally up an annual number until mid-February, to allow for late entries of sales into the system and some data cleaning, so all these 2009 stats are my calculations from their monthly figures.
Despite the increase, sales are still way down from a typical year, let alone the peak. But average sale prices remain well above where they were at the start of the last decade. As Housing Watch pointed out recently, Baltimore-area home prices were 98 percent higher in the third quarter of last year than they were in 2000, using the National Association of Realtors figures. That's the second-largest increase among metro areas, behind only Allentown, Penn.
Depending on your point of view, that's either good news or bad. I'll let you all do the editorializing.
One of the troubles about average sale prices is that they're, well, an average of sales. A perfect cross-section of homes doesn't necessarily sell every year. That's why economists like to look at measures that try to get at changes in same-home prices.
So here's an information-gathering poll for everyone's edification. Compared with 2007 (the peak in prices, if averages are telling the true story), how have your values changed?
On a wonkish note, in case you're wondering about my 2009 price-and-sales calculations: I compared the preliminary figures for 2009 with the preliminary figures for 2008. The sales numbers usually end up rising a bit after they're revised, and that seemed the most apples-to-apples way to handle it.