In pricey Howard County, a less precipitous housing-market drop
Howard County -- the priciest housing market in the Baltimore region -- seems to have been buffeted the least by the popping bubble.
The typical home sold there in the middle of this year was 7 percent less expensive than the typical sale in 2007, when prices peaked, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data. Harford, the next closest, saw double the drop.
Median sale prices fell 19 percent in Carroll, 22 percent in Anne Arundel, 26 percent in Baltimore County and about 40 percent in the city, where the picture is complicated by investors buying extremely cheap homes in need of total rehabs.
The number of sales in Howard County is also down less sharply than in most of the region, though the difference isn't so striking (with one exception) -- and the drop is pretty darn big everywhere. Since sales peaked in the region in 2005, Howard's numbers are down 43 percent, compared with 45 percent in Carroll, 49 percent in Anne Arundel, 51 percent in Baltimore County and just over 60 percent in the city. Harford's decline is smallest, at 41 percent.
I've been taking a meandering statistical tour of the jurisdictions this year, looking at figures for the month of June from 1998 onward. It reinforced that the bubble and bust both packed a harder wallop in Baltimore than in the suburbs, while the suburban counties themselves haven't felt the impact evenly.
The reputation of its school system and its location between Baltimore and Washington have worked to Howard County's advantage for years, so it's not a complete shock that it might fare relatively better in rough times. But goodness, prices are still double what they were in 2000. In June, at least, Howard's median sale price was up about half a percent over the year before, which in turn was up over the year before that.
The other notable thing about Howard is that sales didn't rise nearly as much as they did in the rest of the region during the boom years, even as prices soared. The county's home sales were just 7 percent higher in 2005 than they were in 2000, compared with 20 percent in Carroll, close to 40 percent in Anne Arundel, Baltimore County and Harford, and a whopping 80 percent in the city.
Here, have a look at prices and sales in Howard over the years:
If you're more interested in how prices and monthly payments compare with income, check out this regionwide analysis.