Baltimore-area home prices circa 2009
What price did the average home selling in the Baltimore area last year fetch? We'll get a preliminary look when Metropolitan Regional Information Systems releases December numbers -- I'm all ready to number-crunch the results for you.
But we're several days away from that yet. So here are some other price-related numbers for your enjoyment while you wait -- including the most expensive home that changed hands last year.
First off: Wonk reader John noticed a stat on HousingTracker.net that struck him as a milestone.
"The median asking price for a home in Baltimore has now dropped SIX FIGURES since the new tracking series began in April 2006," he wrote me. "In April 2006, the median asking price was $344,663. In December 2009, the median asking price is $241,725."
Prices tend to bump up in the spring, presumably because more people are trying to sell four- and five-bedroom homes aimed at families with kids in school. (Or maybe it's just that sellers who go on the market in the spring are a bit, ah, exuberant with their asking prices, to use a Greenspan word.)
That spring bump-up means it's not entirely apples-to-apples to compare December to April -- or at least not Granny Smiths to Granny Smiths. (December 2009 asking prices in the Baltimore metro area are down about $83,000 vs. December 2006, HousingTracker says.) But as John points out, there are "massive government incentives at work" now that weren't around in April 2006, so nothing is exactly comparable, eh?
Is the takeaway that prices are rip-roaring bargains? The Calculated Risk blog addressed this question from a national perspective -- responding to homes-are-now-cheap arguments -- and insisted that it's really just mortgage rates that are unusually low:
[T]he real key is to focus on supply and demand, and on the general fundamentals of price-to-income and price-to-rent (not perfect measures). House prices are not currently "cheap". They just aren't outrageously expensive nationally anymore.
The links in the quote go to graphs, for the graph-lovers among you.
On a final price note, real estate agent Michael Hamby put together a list of Maryland homes that sold for the most money in 2009 (along with lists for D.C. and Virginia). Priciest Baltimore-area home: A newly constructed six-bedroom, six-and-a-half bath spread in Annapolis that changed hands in March for $5 million.
The top sales figure anywhere in Maryland was -- not that surprisingly -- in tony Potomac, according to Hamby's list. The home, which sold for $7.8 million, has an eye-popping 10 bedrooms and 11-and-a-half bathrooms. The listing says it was "Designed and Built for the Sargent & Eunice Kennedy Shriver Family."
The listing also says the original asking price was $11.8 million. That's a 34 percent drop.
The listing on the Annapolis home, on the other hand, says the sales price is slightly above the asking price. Perhaps a few additions made to the buyer's specifications, since the listing said there was "STILL TIME TO CUSTOMIZE"?
Never a dull moment with this housing market.