Fewer homes for sale
Not seeing as many homes to choose from nowadays? That was the overall trend in February. The number of properties on the market dropped across the region vs. a year earlier, from a 16 percent decline in Howard County to a 3 percent dip in Harford.
We'll get the lowdown on March this Friday, when Metropolitan Regional Information Systems expects to release new stats. While we're waiting, here's more on February:
If you're trying to buy in Howard County, you might be feeling a bit grumpy. Between the inventory drop and a 20 percent increase in sales, the months of supply there is the lowest in the state -- tied with also-affluent Montgomery. At the rate of sales in February, normally a slow time of year for the market, sellers in both counties would all find buyers within eight months.
Garrett in Western Maryland -- at the other extreme -- had a 114-month supply.
The generally accepted magic number, when supply and demand are in balance, is six months.
So Howard looks like an easier place to sell a home right now, but of course it's all relative. Three years ago, the county had a five-month supply. And three years ago, we were already well into the housing slump.
I was also interested to see how many deals were pending -- contracts signed in February -- because that's a helpful sign post about future sales. Can you guess which county topped them all with its whopping increase?
No, not Howard. Somerset County on the Eastern Shore.
Yeah, I really doubted you'd guess that.
Somerset's pending deals doubled in February -- to 20 from 10 a year earlier. (Sales also doubled: from two to four.)
Pending deals did rise more in Howard than elsewhere in the Baltimore area -- 18 percent. Close behind was Baltimore, with a 14 percent increase. Harford and Anne Arundel also recorded more deals in February than a year earlier (11 percent and 2 percent, respectively).
Baltimore County had the same number of contracts struck in February as it did a year earlier (almost 500), while pending deals fell in Carroll (down 6 percent).
Not all contracts will close. And not all of those destined to close will wrap up the following month. But it gives us all some idea of what's going on.
So: Are you buying or selling?