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February 24, 2012

'Severely' overburdened homeowners, renters

How many people spend more than half their income on housing costs? More than you might think.

In the Baltimore area, one in five households with workers pulling down middle-income or lower-income wages fell into that pinched group in 2010, according to a new report by the Center for Housing Policy. That's nearly 85,000 households "severely burdened by their housing costs."

But it's not quite as bad as the nation overall, with nearly one in four of what the center dubs "working households" falling into that category.

The center, which looked at regions and states across the country, considered all renter and owner households with adults who made no more than 20 percent over their area's median income and worked at least 20 hours a week on average in 2010. That means retirees weren't part of the calculation -- and neither were those who were out of work or had their weekly hours cut below 20, a situation that plenty of Americans were stuck in that year.

Continue reading "'Severely' overburdened homeowners, renters" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Affordable housing, Housing stats, Renting, The economy
        

February 20, 2012

9 months of housing-market supply -- for now

It would take nine months to sell all the homes on the market in the Baltimore region at the pace people are buying these days, in case you were wondering.

That's simple math. What's trickier -- naturally -- is knowing how long it will take to sell a particular house. Or whether the months' supply is headed up or down.

Six months of supply is usually the rule of thumb for a market balanced between buyers and sellers. Not surprising that it would be higher than that (advantage, buyers) in January, part of the slow season.

But the other factor at play is the temporary slump in foreclosures for sale -- something that's expected to reverse in the not-too-distant future, now that the bank settlement over robo-signing is done. The Mortgage Bankers Association says foreclosure processing could initially slow further as big mortgage servicers put settlement requirements into place, but that it should speed up afterward.

Continue reading "9 months of housing-market supply -- for now" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 13, 2012

Few bedrooms, big price

You'd be forgiven for thinking that pricey homes always have a lot of bedrooms. They so often do.

Take this seven-bedroom spread in Annapolis. Or this 12-bedroom, 19-bathroom mansion (who's using all these bathrooms?) in New Jersey. Or, heck, this 30-bedroom house near Orlando with an entrance designed to look like the opulent Palace of Versailles. Thirty bedrooms!

But one house selling in the Baltimore region last month in the $600,000 to $799,999 category has two bedrooms at most, according to the newest sales statistics from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

I don't know much about this place, except that it's in Anne Arundel County and so is probably well-above-average in price thanks to waterfront. To give you an idea of how unusual this is, there wasn't another one- or two-bedroom single-family house in the entire Baltimore region that sold for more than $400,000 last month.

Average price of a two-bed-or-less house in the Baltimore area last month: $148,000. Almost half sold for less than $100,000.

Continue reading "Few bedrooms, big price" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 3, 2012

Where Baltimore-area residents would rather be

Real estate search site Trulia says the Baltimore region is seventh on the list of metro areas with the weakest demand among the online search crowd -- specifically, more renters and homeowners looking to move out than in.

For every search on Trulia by someone outside the region checking out places for sale or rent here, there are two (or more specifically 2.2) searches by people in our area looking somewhere else. The company, which ranked the 100 largest metro areas on search demand, says big regions tend to have more people looking to leave than to arrive.

Maryland overall has seen more going than coming in recent years, starting at the height of the housing boom and continuing in a bigger way afterward, according to the state Department of Planning's analysis of IRS migration data.

That doesn't mean the population dropped, though -- it grew. As a planning agency chart in an earlier analysis shows, births outnumber deaths and international migration is also adding to the mix, even as state-to-state migration subtracts.

Trulia says Baltimore-area residents searching online for apartments and homes outside the region are most frequently checking out these places:

1. The Washington area

2. The Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick mini-metro area (usually lumped in with the D.C. area, but not always)

3. The York-Hanover area in Pennsylvania

4. New York City and environs (an area that reaches New Jersey)

5. The Philadelphia area

But what about the people who live elsewhere and are checking us out? Trulia's list made me go "whaa?" -- here's why:

Continue reading "Where Baltimore-area residents would rather be" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 27, 2012

Fast home sales, slow home sales

DecDOM.png

 
Above: The homes that sold in the Baltimore region in December, organized by how quickly -- or slowly -- they went from listed to under contract.

The breakdowns come from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence, which notes that yes, some homes really do come on the multiple-listing service as already sold -- hence the 34 properties in December in the "zero days" category.

But it's rare that someone had to have the house so badly that they snagged it from the owners before they were even thinking of selling. It more likely was for sale but not on the MLS -- a new home, say, or a for-sale-by-owner -- and an agent entered it into the system afterward.

So let's ignore the zeros. If you add up everything from one day to 30, that's almost 400 homes, close to a quarter of all (non-zero-day) sales that month. That's by far the most common period for a home to sell, comparing just 30-day stretches.

Continue reading "Fast home sales, slow home sales" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: For sale, Housing stats
        

January 23, 2012

Youngest homeowners least satisfied with homeownership

homegainsurvey.jpg

If you're a dissatisfied homeowner, chances are you're young.

That's the takeaway from real estate search site HomeGain's latest survey, which asked Americans whether they were happy with homeownership.

Least happy are homeowners in the 18-to-25 crowd. That's the only age group where more than half (55 percent) said they're not satisfied with homeownership. The share of satisfied homeowners goes up from there almost in lockstep with age. (Slightly more 26-to-35-year-olds are satisfied than 36-to-45-year-olds, though it rounds to two-thirds in each case.)

Those most likely to be satisfied are 55-plus, people who are also the most likely to have lived in their homes the longest and -- assuming they didn't pull a lot of equity out during the bubble years -- to owe little or nothing on a mortgage. So it makes sense, just as it's understandable that young homeowners who have seen nothing but depreciation aren't wild about the idea.

But here's something surprising:

Continue reading "Youngest homeowners least satisfied with homeownership" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats, Survey says ...
        

January 20, 2012

How home prices in the Baltimore area stack up

Home prices in the Baltimore area fell about 4 percent last year, which is either bad or good, depending on your perspective.

If you take the position that it's bad, chin up -- dozens of metro areas had bigger drops.

But even more regions had smaller losses or actual increases.

That's according to a new report prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Council for the New American City, which looked at a variety of vital signs -- including home prices -- in metro areas across the country.

Continue reading "How home prices in the Baltimore area stack up" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 17, 2012

Clear Capital: Baltimore-area home prices dropped 6% in 2011

Real estate data firm Clear Capital puts the Baltimore region's price drop last year at 6.2 percent, a figure calculated from repeat sales of homes to try to capture the true gain or loss over time.

The average drop in home prices last year, by contrast, was about 4 percent in the region -- considering everything that sold in 2011 vs. everything that sold in 2010.

It's not unusual for price stats to differ, especially if they're measuring the market differently. That's one of the reasons it can be helpful to look at a variety. Triangulation, if you will.

Clear Capital says Baltimore's price loss in 2011 was 12th largest among big markets, with Atlanta No. 1 for its 18 percent decline.

At the other extreme of its 50-region ranking were metro areas that have seen big declines already and posted gains last year, including Dayton, Ohio (up more than 11 percent), Orlando (up almost 7 percent) and Miami (up 5.6 percent).

Continue reading "Clear Capital: Baltimore-area home prices dropped 6% in 2011" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing forecasts, Housing stats
        

January 11, 2012

Baltimore-area housing market in 2011

Here's the early look at the 2011 housing market in the Baltimore area:

AreaAverage priceChange in priceChange in sales
Arundel$348,600-1%-1%
Balt. City$128,100-11%-6%
Balt. Co.$243,900-7%-2%
Carroll$280,700-4%1%
Harford$251,400-6%-9%
Howard$401,5000%-9%
Region$262,500-4%-4%

Carroll, as you can see, was the only jurisdiction to eke out a sales gain in 2011 compared with 2010. Howard managed basically flat prices (the numbers are rounded) but had one of the largest sales drops in the region.

More about 2011 in this story, which also includes the Moody's Analytics forecast for this year and next.

Continue reading "Baltimore-area housing market in 2011" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 6, 2012

What would-be sellers are asking vs. what buyers are paying

Here's what the people trying to sell homes in the Baltimore region were asking in the month of November the past few years, and how that compared with what buyers paid for the homes that actually changed hands:

 

Ask%20vs%20sales.png

Sources: Department of Numbers, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' RealEstate Business Intelligence

 

It's interesting to see how different the median asking price and median selling price were in 2006 and how the gap has shrunk since then.

Incidentally, the asking price of the typical home for sale vs. the price of the typical home sold isn't the same as what a typical seller gets compared what he or she asked for. That is decidedly not closer together now than it was in 2006.

RBI tracks the average original list price of homes that ultimately sell. The discount was 5 percent in November 2006 and 11 percent this past November, RBI says. 

What gives? Two things, probably.

The asking prices on the graph above -- for homes actively for sale -- are a snapshot at the time rather than whatever those homes on the market were originally listed at.

And perhaps more importantly, would-be sellers and buyers nowadays have had years to get accustomed to the idea that it's a down market and set their expectations accordingly. In late 2006, that was still a new thought. Sales activity was dropping but prices weren't; they just weren't rising at the fast clip of a year or two earlier.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 16, 2011

House (or apartment) poor

Just because you're paying your rent or mortgage every month on the dot doesn't mean you can really afford it. That's the idea of "house poor," people spending so much on housing costs that they're not spending on much of anything else -- or saving, for that matter.

Is this you?

The National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy just updated their "Paycheck to Paycheck" data this week to show the income you need to avoid spending too much on the typical home or rental in metro areas across the country.

Their calculations suggest that plenty of workers -- from bank tellers to security guards to school bus drivers -- had better double up with another working stiff, or they'll have a hard time of it. That's all right for a variety of families, but it's less all right for single folks and any couples dealing with a job loss.

In the Baltimore region, the two housing groups say, you need to earn almost $70,000 a year to buy the median-priced home and not spend more than 28 percent of your income on the mortgage, taxes and insurance (a common measure of affordability). This assumes a 10 percent down payment, bigger than FHA's minimum requirements.

You don't need to earn as much if you're renting, but it's still a good chunk of change.

Continue reading "House (or apartment) poor" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Affordable housing, Housing stats
        

December 12, 2011

What it costs to buy 2 bedrooms, 3, 4 and more

What's the cheapest way to buy a home if your aim is as many bedrooms as possible? Aim for attached housing.

In October, townhouses and rowhouses in the Baltimore region sold for substantially less than single-family houses in comparable bedroom categories. In fact, the average three-bedroom townhome or rowhome sold for about $15,000 less than the average house with two bedrooms or fewer.

And the average house with four bedrooms or more sold for nearly twice the average townhome/rowhome with that many bedrooms -- $395,000 vs. $202,000.

Here's the price breakdown from low to high, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence:

Continue reading "What it costs to buy 2 bedrooms, 3, 4 and more" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 5, 2011

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.

Continue reading "In pricey Howard County, a less precipitous housing-market drop" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 1, 2011

Housing bust worse for younger homeowners

If you bought a home in the Baltimore region after 2003, chances are it's not adding anything to your net worth. It's much more likely subtracting.

Multiply that across the country, and you have one of the explanations for a recent Pew Research Center finding that while older Americans were doing much better financially in 2009 than their counterparts a generation ago, younger Americans were doing much worse. The older you are, the greater your chance of having bought a home well before the housing bubble started, as NPR noted when it reported on the Pew study.

The median net worth of households headed by someone at least 65 years old was about $170,000 in 2009, 42 percent more than seniors in 1984, Pew says. In under-35 households, median net worth was a slim $3,662, 68 percent less than what their same-age counterparts were worth in 1984.

"People generally accumulate wealth as they age, so it is not unusual to find large age-based gaps on this measure. However, the current gap is unprecedented," Pew notes. "In 1984, the age-based wealth gap had been 10:1. By 2009, it had ballooned to 47:1."

Though the rough job and housing markets have helped turn that gap into a chasm, they're not the only factors.

Continue reading "Housing bust worse for younger homeowners" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 23, 2011

Where the wealthy and poor live

Curious where the 1 percent live? Turns out the Baltimore area has a fair amount -- or, at least, a fair amount of the top 3 percent of income earners, which is as close as a Brookings Institution fellow was able to get with available IRS data.

Howard Wial, director of Brookings' Metropolitan Economy Initiative, wrote in an Atlantic Cities piece that Baltimore is one of just 20 metro areas that have at least 1 percent of the country's households with $200,000-plus incomes. Top of the list, to no one's shock: New York.

Meanwhile, a report from Brown University's US2010 Project finds that the poor and well-to-do are increasingly isolated in their own neighborhoods, and those islands of poverty and wealth are growing as the number of middle-class neighborhoods is shrinking.

Just over 30 percent of families in large and medium-sized metro areas lived in neighborhoods at either income extreme in 2007, up from 15 percent in 1970, according to the report. (The Baltimore region was at nearly 30 percent in 2007, but the report doesn't give its '70 statistic.)

"These trends are consequential because people are affected by the character of the local areas in which they live," write the report's authors, from Stanford University. "The increasing concentration of income and wealth (and therefore of resources such as schools, parks, and public services) in a small number of neighborhoods results in greater disadvantages for the remaining neighborhoods where low- and middle-income families live."

Thoughts?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 22, 2011

The Baltimore ZIP code with 500 homes for sale (down from 750)

Many Baltimore communities have lots of homes jostling for would-be buyers' attention, but only one has more than 500.

The 21224 ZIP code had 513, to be exact, on the market in October, according to Realtor.com. The real estate search site's October housing summary shows nearly six dozen ZIPs with at least 100 homes for sale in the Baltimore region, just over two dozen with at least 200 and almost a dozen with at least 300.

The 21224 ZIP is pretty expansive, stretching from the Canton waterfront to several blocks north of Patterson Park, and -- west to east -- from the park to the city line. Many rowhomes are tucked within, so it's always going to be a candidate for Most Homes for Sale.

What's changing nowadays: The number of listings is plummeting. 21224's offerings are down more than 30 percent from a year earlier, when about 750 homes were for sale. Most of the Baltimore region's ZIPs are down too -- for a nearly 20 percent drop on average, same as the national trend.

Why? Robo-signing might be part of the answer. There's probably also some amount of "thanks but no thanks" among homeowners who don't like today's sale prices.

What are you seeing out there, and what do you think is driving these inventory drops?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: For sale, Housing stats
        

November 11, 2011

The effect of lower mortgage limits

FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all dropped their loan limits in a variety of metro areas across the country as of Oct. 1. Result? Buyers (and would-be refinancers) in the Baltimore region can't borrow more than $494,500 from them. Everything above that amount is in "jumbo" territory with higher rates and -- in some cases -- much higher down payment requirements.

The Baltimore region had temporarily been bumped up to $560,000 in 2008 in reaction to the mortgage meltdown.

The downward push seems to have had an immediate effect on sales between $500,000 to $600,000, which dropped more than 20 percent vs. a year earlier. (Sales between $400,000 and $500,000, meanwhile, rose during the same period.)

Read more about it in today's story about October home sales.

And while you're at it, you might want to check out this piece about a mortgage fraud/Ponzi scheme conviction and this story about fallout from the ground rent ruling.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:51 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats, Mortgages
        

November 10, 2011

Md. home sale activity among the slowest nationwide

Maryland's pickup in home sales compared with last year is among the smallest in the country.

That's according to new figures from the National Association of Realtors, which said the number of homes sold in Maryland over the summer was up 10 percent from a year earlier, lower than all but six other states.

No. 1 and No. 2 for smallest sales increases? Virginia and D.C., respectively. Gotta wonder if federal budget problems -- and the resulting pullbacks by government contractors -- have something to do with that.

Continue reading "Md. home sale activity among the slowest nationwide" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 9, 2011

Over-optimistic homebuyers

How much do you think home prices rise in a typical year? Four out of every 10 prospective home buyers surveyed by real estate search site Zillow say "seven percent," which -- Zillow says -- is way out of sync with reality despite all the dour news about housing the last several years.

Housing bubbles and busts aside, home prices usually increase two to five percent a year, Zillow says. The company points to Yale economist Robert J. Shiller's index of housing prices from 1890 onward, which adjusts for inflation and shows a lot of up-and-down movement.

"It's troubling that we're still in the midst of one of the worst housing recessions in history, and yet prospective buyers continue to have such high expectations for home value appreciation," Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, said in a statement. He added: "Over-estimation of the appreciation potential will lead many to buy real estate when the time in which they plan to live in the house may make renting a better strategy."

Continue reading "Over-optimistic homebuyers" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats, Survey says ...
        

November 8, 2011

How much are home prices down? Pick your number

You might think a simple question like "how much have home values dropped" would get you a simple answer. Sorry, no.

Reports out within the last few days have very different figures for the loss in home-sale prices in the Baltimore region -- the city and nearby suburban counties.

Real estate data firm CoreLogic puts the drop at 1.7 percent in September, compared with a year earlier. Clear Capital, another data firm, calculates a loss of 6.4 percent for a slightly longer period that includes that month -- July through October, compared with a year earlier.

Both firms track repeat sales of homes over time to try to capture the real change in value, but CoreLogic is looking at single-family homes while Clear Capital says it also includes condos.

Zillow, meanwhile, says its "Zestimates" of homes' value -- not just recently sold homes -- suggests a 4.1 percent price drop in the Baltimore area in September compared with a year earlier.

And Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the local multiple-listing service, says the average price of all homes sold in the Baltimore area in September fell less than 1 percent from a year earlier. (October numbers are due out on Thursday.)

Continue reading "How much are home prices down? Pick your number" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 4, 2011

How Baltimore-area income stacks up with home prices

BaltimoreAreaPricesIncome.png

 

If you're curious how the median home sale price in the Baltimore region compares with the median household income these days (and how that compares with the past decade or so), have I got some charts for you. First, the one above, which really drives home how out-of-whack prices got as the housing bubble inflated.

First, a warning about a data limitation: I don't have household income stats past 2009 for the region, so I repeated the approximately $67,000 figure for 2010 and '11. (High unemployment tends to stifle income growth, so that's probably not far off. The estimates from the Maryland Department of Planning show median household income inching up by $400 in 2009.)

So: The median sale price more than doubled between 1999 and 2006, while the median household income rose 26 percent. It's not quite so far apart now -- prices are up 80 percent since 1999 and incomes are up 35 percent.

But what about the effect of today's low-low mortgage rates? How have monthly payments changed, and how does that compare with incomes?

Yeah, I've got those charts, too. Also one showing prices as a multiple of income.

The bottom line is that home prices appear a lot more affordable if you factor in mortgage rates, which were nearly 8 percent 12 years ago and last month were around 4 percent.

Check out these visuals:

Continue reading "How Baltimore-area income stacks up with home prices" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 25, 2011

New listings down to lowest point on record for month of September

Sept11housingtrends.png

 

Hey, would-be homebuyers -- if it feels like there's less to choose from these days, it's not your imagination.

The number of homes on the market in the Baltimore region last month is still high compared with the pace of sales, enough supply to last about eight-and-a-half months. But listings are down 16 percent from a year earlier, according to statistics from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

And perhaps more significantly for buyers, new listings were down 23 percent to the lowest level for the month of September since MRIS began tracking the area in 1998.

Just over 3,200 homes were newly on the market in September, compared with almost 4,200 last September, 6,000 in September 2005 -- right before the overheated market began to show signs of slowdown -- and about 3,500 in September 1999, the previous low.

Buyers frequently complain that a not insignificant number of homes on the market aren't really on the market because the asking prices aren't anywhere close to realistic. So here's a question for lookers and lookyloos: Does it feel as much like a buyer's market as the low sales figures and dropping prices suggest? Are you happy with your options?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: For sale, Housing stats
        

October 24, 2011

Cash deals for half the homes sold in Baltimore last month

In half the home sales in Baltimore last month, the buyer paid cash -- or the equivalent to it from the seller's point of view.

Cash and cash-like deals are much more common in the city, where investors are buying foreclosures and can't easily get bank financing, than in the counties around Baltimore. Still, nearly 15 percent of the suburbs' sales -- about one in seven -- fell into that category in September.

That's according to statistics from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence.

So what's the deal with "cash-like"? 

Continue reading "Cash deals for half the homes sold in Baltimore last month" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 20, 2011

Housing-market intel for Baltimore and 'burbs

Ross Mackesey, sales manager of Long & Foster Real Estate's Greenspring office, writes a monthly commentary on the local housing market, and the newest one -- about September -- is packed full of interesting tidbits. Here's an observation or two for each part of the region:

Anne Arundel County. He notes that the number of sales was up, the time to sell them was down and the average price rose ever so slightly. "Everything looks better than it did a year ago," he wrote.

Baltimore. Foreclosures accounted for at least a quarter of sales in 15 of the city's ZIP codes, he says. (That's about half of the ZIPs.) "Foreclosures at this level dictate value to the extent that market rate transactions must compete with foreclosure pricing," Mackesey wrote. "This makes these zip code areas a high risk for investors who have been buying foreclosures, rehabbing them and then selling them at the high end of the arms-length transactions. They can no longer get an appraisal to support a palatable annualized return on their investment. ... There are still some neighborhoods where the investor rehabber/flipper can make their economic model work, but the number is rapidly diminishing. However, buy to rent still works well."

Baltimore County. Foreclosure sale activity here is "a West and East side serious issue and barely (seldom) seen in the central corridor," Mackesey says. "There were 73 bank owned properties settled in September, only one of which was between Towson and the Maryland line."

Continue reading "Housing-market intel for Baltimore and 'burbs" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 18, 2011

Harford County's housing market

For a little while, Harford County's housing market had a double shot of federal stimulus -- the first-time homebuyer tax credit plus New Jersey workers relocating to the region thanks to BRAC. (The base realignment and closure process sent thousands from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen Proving Ground.)

But the credit expired last year and all the government workers were in place by September. As you can see, the uptick didn't last:

 

HarfordSalesJune.png

 

Sales fell 13 percent in June compared with a year earlier, after increasing 15 percent in June 2009 and 13 percent in June 2010.

Why June? Because this is part of an occasional (OK, irregular) blog series looking at Baltimore-area jurisdictions during that month. I'm looking at statistics for June back to 1998, when Metropolitan Regional Information Systems began tracking the region.

See Anne Arundel here, Baltimore City here, Baltimore County here and Carroll County here

What's significant about Harford: Even though the number of home sales is far off the housing-bubble peak, more homes changed hands in June of this year than in June 1998, when MRIS began keeping records. Regionwide, sales were down 18 percent.

The price situation in Harford is pretty interesting, too:

Continue reading "Harford County's housing market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 17, 2011

One in four homes in Baltimore region selling for a loss

Twenty-five percent of homes that sold in the Baltimore region over the summer changed hands for less than their owners paid for them, up from 21 percent a year earlier, real estate search site Zillow says.

The share of homes selling at a loss is down from the spring, however, when it peaked at nearly 28 percent. (Zillow shows the percentage of losses generally spiking in the first half of the year, dipping in the summer and then heading back upward.)

The situation is worse nationally, with just over a third of homes -- 34 percent -- selling for a loss.

The calculation excludes foreclosures. Zillow crunched transactions from June through August, putting the most weight on sales in the most recent of the three months.

Oh, and it looked at the new sales price vs. the previous price, so that doesn't include homes that were a net loss for the owners after taking into account transaction expenses (like transfer taxes and real estate commissions) or money spent on renovations.

So what's the breakdown at a more local level? It varies a lot, as you might expect, though most places are seeing losses rise.

Continue reading "One in four homes in Baltimore region selling for a loss" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Housing stats, The foreclosure mess, Underwater
        

October 13, 2011

Priciest Baltimore-area home sale in August: $9.5 million

ButlerRdFallsRd.JPG

Photo of Butler Road near Falls Road by Tenney Mason of Patuxent Publishing

 

Here's an eye-popping stat to start your day: A Baltimore County property sold for $9.5 million in August, by far the region's most expensive sale of the month.

It's not an all-time record -- author Tom Clancy spent $12.6 million in 2009 on a huge Ritz-Carlton Residences penthouse that was originally three separate units. (Clancy went on to purchase three more condos at the Ritz to round it out to six.)

But $9.5 million is still really unusual for the region.

The property, on Butler Road where Reisterstown and Sparks Glencoe meet, is more than 100 acres with a four-bedroom, seven-bathroom house. The listing says 144 acres; the property records suggest 108. A few more details here, including an aerial view. (The photo above is in the general area.)

The buyer was Michael Lund Petersen, presumably the same Michael Lund Petersen who bought a condo for $2.7 million in 2008 ... at the Ritz. Small world.

I called jewelry company Pandora yesterday to see if this is also the same Michael Lund Petersen identified in past years as the company's president -- and one of the selling shareholders when Pandora went public last year -- but did not hear back. Pandora is best known for its high-end charm bracelets.

All told, 20 properties in the Baltimore region -- the city and its five surrounding counties -- sold for at least $1 million in August. 

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats, Priciest home of the month
        

October 11, 2011

September home sales in the Baltimore region

Here's the quick take on the Baltimore region's housing market in September: Compared with a year ago, average prices fell a little less than 1 percent, the number of homes sold increased a little more than 1 percent and the supply of new properties hitting the market tumbled.

The 23 percent drop in new listings was the second-largest decline since Metropolitan Regional Information Systems began tracking the area in the late 1990s. Colleague Liz Kay has more in this story, including one agent's suspicion that the market was not the only factor pushing down the number of homes newly listed in September.

On another note, columnist Jay Hancock writes here about the "misery index" -- unemployment rate plus inflation -- and how some are coming up with new ways to take into account the other economic miseries out there. Like a rough housing market. (Which is obviously more miserable for sellers than buyers.)

If you're looking for Baltimore data on one of those miseries -- foreclosure -- then you'll want to check out the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance's statistics page, which has just been revamped. The data, compiled for the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition, include maps, charts and the actual addresses where foreclosure proceedings have been started. You can also see how many of those cases end up as ratified foreclosure sales (not all do). (BNIA offers updates about its data, foreclosure and otherwise, on its Facebook page.)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 10, 2011

Where home prices are rising

Falling home prices might be the norm, but they're not dropping everywhere.

New figures from real estate data firm CoreLogic are a reminder of that fact, showing price gains in 13 states in August compared with a year earlier.

Maryland isn't one of them, mind you. Most of these states aren't ones that made headlines during the housing bubble years. Kansas, up 1 percent. North Dakota and Wyoming, up about 3.5 percent. West Virginia, up an eyebrow-raising 8.6 percent.

At the other extreme were Nevada and Arizona, states that did make headlines during the housing bubble and all the years since. Prices in each state declined more than 10 percent.

Maryland was in the middle, with home prices declining 2.1 percent.

When I crunched home-sale numbers to see trends at a local level during the first half of the year, some ZIP codes showed price gains -- on average, at least. Here are the bigger communities that fell into that category:

Continue reading "Where home prices are rising" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 7, 2011

35% increase in vacant housing in Md. in last decade

A big jump in the number of empty homes for sale and rent helped push up the number of vacant housing in Maryland over the last decade by 35 percent, new Census figures show.

More than 222,000 homes were vacant during the count in April 2010, an increase of nearly 58,000 properties.

The nationwide increase in vacancy was even bigger than Maryland's -- 44 percent. Nevada's number of unoccupied units more than doubled, which underscores just how hard that state has been pummeled by the housing bust.

In addition to an increase in vacant homes for sale and for rent, Maryland saw growth in vacant vacation homes and a category that includes foreclosures not yet on the market. Here's the breakdown:

Continue reading "35% increase in vacant housing in Md. in last decade" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats, Vacancies
        

October 3, 2011

Firm: Baltimore-area prices close to historical norm

Four years ago, a housing affordability index that stacks metro areas against their own histories showed the Baltimore area at its most unaffordable point on record.

Two years ago, it had worked its way down from the ranks of "significant affordability concern" to good ol' "affordability concern."

Now the index, put together by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, pegs the Baltimore region at just about its historical norm -- measured over a stretch of time starting in the early 1980s. It's slightly on the "underpriced" side now, making it an area of "less affordability concern," the California company says.

But the Baltimore area's price drops have been so muted compared with some regions that it's one of the least underpriced areas, compared with their own histories. Of the 183 areas John Burns tracks, 171 are more underpriced than Baltimore. More on that in a moment.

The index -- which melds prices, incomes, mortgage rates and down payments -- isn't meant to predict what home values will do at any given time, so you probably shouldn't hold your breath for a quick return to rising prices. (A separate Johns Burns analysis suggests a very large "shadow inventory" of distressed properties not yet on the market, for instance.)

But the company believes its index is a useful measure of where you can expect prices (compared with incomes and rates) will be long-term.

"Typically, things fall in line with their historical norms," said Erik Franks, a senior research analyst at John Burns. "That's basically true of any commodity."

Here's how the index works -- and how Baltimore compares with other regions:

Continue reading "Firm: Baltimore-area prices close to historical norm" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 29, 2011

Firm: Baltimore-area 'shadow inventory' at 50,000 homes

Thousands of homes are on the market in the Baltimore region. But as the commercials say, wait -- there’s more.

Tens of thousands of Baltimore-area homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments. At least some of their homes will end up on the market too, either as short sales or repossessed foreclosures.

California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which does market research for homebuilders and banks, estimates this "shadow inventory" in the Baltimore region at 50,000 homes as of June. That’s how many properties the company believes will eventually become distress sales but aren’t yet listed.

"That equates to 14 months of supply based on the average resale sales volume for the area over the last 10 years," Wayne Yamano, a vice president at John Burns, said in an email. "The U.S. average is about 9 months of shadow inventory in comparison."

The sales volume was much larger for most of the past 10 years than it’s been in the last few. At the pace of June sales, it would take 21 months -- almost two years -- to find buyers for 50,000 homes.

Continue reading "Firm: Baltimore-area 'shadow inventory' at 50,000 homes" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Distress sales, Housing stats, The foreclosure mess
        

September 26, 2011

Carroll County's housing market

Pegging the start of the housing bust depends on how you're defining it. Home sales began falling in late 2005. Prices took longer to follow suit, peaking in 2007 in most of the Baltimore area.

But for Carroll County, the price impact came a year early.

I'm crunching numbers for the month of June to compare and contrast the counties over the years -- see Anne Arundel here, Baltimore City here and Baltimore County here -- and Carroll County is an interesting case. Even though average prices began falling sooner in that county, they remain higher compared with the late 1990s than some of the other jurisdictions in the region.

Both the average and median sale price in Carroll was about 90 percent higher in June than it was in June 1998. Compare that with Baltimore County's roughly 65 percent increase. (In Baltimore City, where foreclosures and investor activity are both high, the increase in median prices vs. 1998 is the lowest in the region -- 40 percent. But the city's average price increase tops Baltimore County's, which just goes to show that "average" and "typical" aren't always the same thing.)

Carroll County home sales, meanwhile, are down 45 percent since the 2005 peak -- pretty typical for the region -- and remain near recorded lows:

 

CarrollJune11sales.png

 

Here's a chart showing the change in prices:

Continue reading "Carroll County's housing market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 20, 2011

Baltimore County's housing market

Baltimore County home sales are way down from where they were at the height of the housing bubble, like the rest of the region. Unlike the rest of the region, the county's home sales are also way lower now than they were as far back as 1998.

For a (very) occasional blog-post series, I've been crunching numbers at a county level for the month of June to compare and contrast over the years. See Anne Arundel here and Baltimore City here. Today it's Baltimore County's turn.

The number of Baltimore County homes sold this June was down 30 percent from June 1998, when Metropolitan Regional Information Systems began tracking the region. That's the biggest drop in the metro area.

Pricey Howard County was close, with a 28 percent drop, but no other jurisdiction saw anywhere near that big of a decline. (One actually saw a gain in sales, but you'll have to wait until it's that county's turn to find out which ... or check the numbers yourself.)

Here's what Baltimore County's home sales looks like over the years:

 

BaltCoJune11sales.png

 

And here's the change in average and median prices:

Continue reading "Baltimore County's housing market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 15, 2011

Most popular Baltimore-area ZIP codes among homebuyers

You can try to get at housing-market popularity a lot of ways. By one measure, the Baltimore region's most popular ZIP code is Pasadena, 21122.

The Anne Arundel County community is the one that got the most home searches last month on Realtor.com, according to the company that runs the site, Move Inc. No. 2: 21042, the western ZIP code in Ellicott City.

Here's the rest of the top five:

No. 3: 21784, Sykesville (a ZIP code shared by Carroll and Howard counties)

No. 4: 21043, Ellicott City's eastern ZIP code (Howard County)

No. 5: 21146, Severna Park (Anne Arundel County -- near Pasadena)

Does that match up with your sense of what's popular?

Another way to gauge buyer interest is the average length of time the homes in a community have been up for sale, though that's not foolproof (see this blog post for one reason why). Among ZIP codes with at least 20 homes for sale, here are the ones where Realtor.com shows the lowest number of average days on market:

Continue reading "Most popular Baltimore-area ZIP codes among homebuyers" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 13, 2011

August home sales in the Baltimore area

Here's August in a nutshell for the Baltimore-area housing market: Home sales up, prices down.

In a slightly larger nutshell, sales rose 6 percent in the Baltimore region vs. a year ago, while the average price slipped 5 percent.

The number of sales remains very low compared with the norm since the late 1990s, when Metropolitan Regional Information Systems began tracking the market. The number of homes listed for sale is dropping, though, so the time it would take to sell everything at the current pace is just under eight months -- close to what it was in August 2009, when the federal first-time home buyer tax credit was giving activity a bit of a boost.

Six months is generally thought of as a balancing point between demand and supply.

Continue reading "August home sales in the Baltimore area" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 8, 2011

Report: Baltimore region had one of the biggest drops in home prices in the last year

Home prices were about 9 percent lower in the Baltimore region in June than they were a year earlier, one of the largest declines among large markets, according to real estate data firm FNC.

The company says its latest analysis of 30 metro areas shows Baltimore with the sixth-largest loss in prices year-over-year, behind Orlando (down about 16 percent), Las Vegas and Atlanta (both down about 13 percent) and Sacramento and Tampa (both down about 11 percent).

Most regions saw price drops compared with a year ago, mind you. FNC said it found increases in only two large markets: Detroit -- yes, really -- and Boston, both of which posted gains of about 4 percent.

It's interesting to see how different the various measures of price changes have been lately -- all down, but not by the same amount. Here are some other recent figures, for comparison's sake:

Continue reading "Report: Baltimore region had one of the biggest drops in home prices in the last year" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 2, 2011

CoreLogic: Baltimore-area price drops are the smallest in a year

Single-family home prices in the Baltimore region were 3.8 percent lower in July than they had been a year earlier, the smallest decline since last summer, real estate data firm CoreLogic says.

The year-over-year loss in prices ranged from a little over 4 percent to a little over 6 percent from August 2010 through June of this year, according to CoreLogic. And even those are less dramatic than the price drops in 2009 -- in July 2009, for example, single-family values fell 9 percent. (The company analyzes both detached and attached single-family homes.)

Nationally, CoreLogic said, single-family home prices declined 5.2 percent over the year. That's down a bit compared with the past several months. Subtract out short sales and foreclosures, and U.S. home prices were a lot closer to steady, down about half a percent.

Non-distress sales in the Baltimore area also showed a smaller drop, but it wasn't as big of a difference -- down 2.8 percent rather than the overall 3.8 percent decline.

So: trend or temporary?

Continue reading "CoreLogic: Baltimore-area price drops are the smallest in a year" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 22, 2011

Homes for less than $10k and other craziness (housing market, mid-2011 edition)

ArcherSt.JPG

Photo by Sun photographer Jed Kirschbaum

 

Want a home for less than $10,000? You wouldn't be alone: About 275 of the properties changing hands in Baltimore during the first half of the year fell in that price range.

That's one out of every 10 home sales in the city.

That's more than the number of under-$10,000 Baltimore homes that sold in 2009 and 2010 combined.

That's a bigger group than the number of homes selling for $750,000-plus in the entire metro area.

And that's just one of the tidbits in the mid-year 2011 housing-market story, the every-six-months exercise in number-crunching and mapping that I hope you'll find interesting.

Here's the linkage (and a few details about that photo above):

Continue reading "Homes for less than $10k and other craziness (housing market, mid-2011 edition)" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 19, 2011

Buy or rent? Trulia says buying is cheaper here (but not everywhere)

Trulia, comparing the cost of buying in Baltimore with the cost of renting, says buying is cheaper. The costs are more in favor of buying vs. renting here than they are in most large cities, according to Trulia's figures: We're No. 10.

Trulia is using asking prices and rents from its site -- it has both sides of the housing coin -- and runs them through a calculation we've talked about before: Divide the asking price by a year's worth of rent.

If your number is 15 or lower, buying is better, in Trulia's book. If it's above 15, advantage renting -- especially the higher that number gets.

Baltimore's figure is 11. Lowest of all is Las Vegas, at 6. At the other end is New York with a whopping 36, which Trulia (in what seems like an understatement) dubs "much more affordable to rent."

Patrick Killelea outlines a different rule of thumb on his housing-bubble-and-bust site Patrick.net.

Continue reading "Buy or rent? Trulia says buying is cheaper here (but not everywhere)" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Housing stats, Renting
        

August 18, 2011

Days on market for the typical Baltimore-area home for sale: 98

The typical home for sale in the Baltimore region in July had been sitting on the market for 98 days -- a little over three months.

So says Realtor.com, which released a market-trends report with statistics on homes for sale. Many of the stats we see are for places that have already sold, so it's a change of pace to get a snapshot of the so-called market inventory.

The region's median time-on-market is almost exactly the same as the nation's, which is one day shorter at 97. Several metro areas are at or above 150 days -- five months. Two -- Oakland, Calif. and Denver -- are under 50. (Denver's typical home has been on the market about a month.)

Aggregated days-on-market figures hide a lot of variations, of course. Homes are always coming on, brand-spanking new, their time on market measured in minutes. Others have been languishing for months. Occasionally years.

And the figures don't necessarily reflect how long the wait has been for sellers, since some pull their homes off the market and put them back on later so they can be brand-spanking new all over again from a multiple-listing standpoint.

Continue reading "Days on market for the typical Baltimore-area home for sale: 98 " »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 17, 2011

Designing the best 'Best Places to Live' list

There's no perfect best-of list, especially if you're ranking communities. Go to any neighborhood and chances are the people who live there don't all agree about whether it's a nice place or not, let alone the people who don't live there.

So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Money's most recent ranking for best small towns has drawn "you gotta be kidding" comments from readers who don't agree with the three Maryland communities the magazine included on its list.

"I wouldn't ask my worst enemy to move there," Geoff wrote of Montgomery Village.

JD commented, "This makes me laugh - I lived in Crofton for 7 years and HATED every minute of it!"

"As for Eldersberg, except for some defense facilities nearby that are cutting back, nothing is close for commuting," wrote didactic1.

Some readers had good things to say about the communities, naturally. Some suggested other places for an ideal best-of list.

But all this got me wondering: Setting aside the fact that no list would be met with universal approval, what would make a pretty darn good list? What statistics would you look at? How would you try to account for hard-to-measure qualities that make a place livable?

When I picked the hidden-gem neighborhoods in 2009, I didn't try to make it a top-10 list. They weren't a best-of, just examples of nice places where average prices were under $250,000 and name recognition wasn't (as far as I could tell) especially high.

I understand the appeal of ranking, though. After all -- thousands of you stopped by to look at yesterday's post about someone else's ranking. Imagine how many hits Money is getting.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 15, 2011

Home prices ... up?

The Fiserv Case-Shiller index shows home prices in the Baltimore area going an unexpected direction in the first quarter of this year: Up.

The Baltimore metro area saw a price gain of 1.2 percent compared with a year earlier, the index says, and though that's a very small gain I called the company just to make sure it wasn't a typo. Other measures I've seen for the region all show losses.

It's not a typo. But Fiserv doesn't see it as the beginning of a trend. It's predicting that prices in the region will be 4.6 percent lower in the first quarter of next year than they were in first-quarter 2011.

David Stiff, Fiserv’s chief economist, attributes the Baltimore area's small increase -- at a time when the index shows home prices falling just over 5 percent nationwide -- to an unemployment rate that's not as bad as the United States'. It's averaged 7.5 percent in the region this year, compared with 9 percent for the U.S.

The Fiserv Case-Shiller index compares repeat sales of the same homes over time as a way to avoid the problem of changing mix -- homes selling now that aren't comparable to the homes selling a year ago. Taking the average or median price of everything that sells can leave you comparing apples and oranges, so you can see why Fiserv's numbers don't necessarily track with multiple listing service data. (In March, the MLS showed average sale prices in the metro area dropping 7 percent; the median fell 11 percent.)

But Clear Capital, another real estate information firm, has a repeat-sales index that shows home prices in the metro area falling, too. I asked Stiff what could explain the difference.

Continue reading "Home prices ... up?" »

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Categories: Housing stats
        

August 10, 2011

July home sales in the Baltimore area

Baltimore-area home sales rose in July compared with a year earlier, while home prices continued to sag.

It's the first time in five months that sales increased, but that's not surprising. The comparison point — July 2010 — is when settlements slumped as the effect of the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit waned. (Most buyers trying to get the incentive of up to $8,000 closed by June 30 last year, which if you recall had been the deadline until Congress extended it at the last minute through the rest of that summer.)

More heartening for would-be home sellers than the 12 percent increase in July home sales: The number of new contracts in the Baltimore region has now risen for eight of the last nine months, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the multiple-listing service used to buy and sell homes in the area. (MRIS's stats arm has more statistics here.)

Buyers and sellers signed 24 percent more contracts in July than they did a year earlier — deals that will turn into sales within a few months if all goes smoothly. The approximately 2,400 new contracts represent the largest number signed in the month of July since 2007, before the full effects of the credit crunch and financial crisis set in.

This possible sales stabilization did not translate into price support, however. The average sale price in the Baltimore metro area slid 5 percent to just under $279,000.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:33 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

Typical asking price in August: just under $230,000

A snapshot of the region's housing market in July is due out at 10 a.m. from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence. Check back for the rundown later this morning.

While you're waiting, here are some other numbers to chew on:

The typical asking price for a Baltimore-area home on the market so far in August was just under $230,000, according to the Department of Numbers, a website that tracks various statistics around the country. It's the first month since January that the asking price has dropped rather than risen.

The typical asking price, after decreasing from $219,000 in December to about $213,000 in January, increased steadily afterward to $231,000 in July. (This is for the metro area as a whole, not just the city.)

The peak? May 2006 -- $350,000.

I mentioned in June that the upward rise in asking prices was unusual compared with the past few years. We did tend to see an uptick in the spring and summer, but not to this extent.

Continue reading "Typical asking price in August: just under $230,000" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 8, 2011

Baltimore City's housing market

Next up in our tour of the region: Baltimore. The city's level of home sales is below what it was 13 years ago, after soaring during the bubble years and plummeting during the bust at rates that outpaced the suburbs.

Here's the change in the number of homes sold during the month of June, according to data from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' RealEstate Business Intelligence arm:

 

xCitysalesJune11.png

 

And here's the change in price, also more dramatic on the up and downswing than the 'burbs:

Continue reading "Baltimore City's housing market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 4, 2011

Anne Arundel's housing market, by the year

I usually look at the region as a whole, but I know you're probably more interested in what's happening to a somewhat smaller housing market. Your neighborhood, say. Or at the very least, your county or city.

Over the next week or two, I'll share graphs that show the change in sales and prices in each of the six jurisdictions that make up the Baltimore area. First up: Anne Arundel County.

Here's a look at how the number of homes sold has changed in Anne Arundel since 1998 for the month of June, with data pulled from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' RealEstate Business Intelligence arm:

 

AAhomesJune11.png

 

And here's the same snapshot for average and median sale prices:

Continue reading "Anne Arundel's housing market, by the year" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 2, 2011

Homebuilders: Regulation accounts for 25% of a new home's price

In Maryland and across the country, local and state agencies shape the homebuilding process through regulations -- rules about where and how companies can build. The idea is to avoid problems.

But the National Association of Home Builders says regulations add a substantial cost, accounting for 25 percent of the price of a new single-family home.

The trade group's study, conducted by HousingEconomics.com, relied on survey responses from homebuilders, including firms with experience acquiring land and developing lots.

As you might imagine it would, the report suggests government officials think twice before adding more regulations in an environment where "builders are already reporting new homes appraising at less than the cost required to produce them."

The cost of regulation and regulatory-related delays tends to be somewhat higher in the Northeast, the study says.

Maryland -- at the cusp of the Northeast and South -- has a variety of rules that vary from county to county. Some are of the building-code sort. Some are queues designed to control the pace of development so it doesn't get ahead of new schools. And some require upfront fees to pay for the impact of more people on the roads and students in classrooms.

Maryland's "impact fees" are among the highest in the nation, according to a separate survey by impact-fee consulting firm Duncan Associates.

Continue reading "Homebuilders: Regulation accounts for 25% of a new home's price" »

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Categories: Housing stats
        

July 29, 2011

Homeownership, investors and the "pent up" phenomenon

Several (somewhat related) trends to chew over:

A recent study by the Research Institute for Housing America, a nonprofit arm of the Mortgage Bankers Association, says we can probably expect "further notable declines in homeownership rates in the United States." The rate jumped during the housing bubble -- pumped up by lax lending terms -- and has slid backward since.

Though it's possible that decline is over, the study's authors write, they think a drop of as much as 1 to 2 percentage points over the next few years is more likely.

As homeownership falls, more houses end up with landlords. One clue to investor activity: One out of every five homes changing hands in the Baltimore metro region in June were bought with cash, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm. (Investors are sure that statistic includes so-called "hard money" loans, which are pretty much the only financing available to real estate investors these days and usually look like cash at the settlement table.)

It's possible the homeownership rate would be different -- lower or higher -- if not for the "pent up" phenomenon of would-be buyers and would-be sellers stuck in place. A recent Wonk poll that asked readers if they're feeling pent up drew a lot of "yes" votes -- nearly two-thirds of those who took the poll.

Most popular choice among the pent-up crowd: "I would sell and then buy if market conditions were different," picked by 28 percent of poll-takers.

Continue reading "Homeownership, investors and the "pent up" phenomenon" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

July 25, 2011

As prices drop, more buyers opt for more bedrooms

Dropping home prices give buyers an opportunity to spend less on a house. But a growing share of the buying pool is opting to just get more house.

Forty percent of Baltimore-area buyers closing on a house or townhouse in June purchased a place with four bedrooms or more, up from 36 percent at the height of the sales frenzy six years earlier.

Three bedrooms are still the most popular choice, with a 50 percent market share in June. But that's down from 53 percent in June 2005.

And two bedrooms or less? Ten percent of purchases, down from 12 percent.

The numbers come from Metropolitan Regional Information System's stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence. (RBI tracks condos as a separate group but doesn't break them out by number of bedrooms, so I don't know if they're showing the same trend.)

The sales slump in houses and townhouses in the metro area follows the same bedroom trend. Sales of two-bedroom-or-less places dropped by 58 percent in the past six years, sales of three-bedroom digs declined by 53 percent and sales of four bedrooms or more fell by 45 percent.

So how much are people spending? Below are the average sale prices for detached homes and attached ones (rowhouses, townhouses, duplexes) in the Baltimore region -- the city plus the five suburban counties around it -- by number of bedrooms. The two-bed category is two bedrooms or less, and the four-bed is four bedrooms or more:

 

Continue reading "As prices drop, more buyers opt for more bedrooms" »

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Categories: Housing stats
        

July 12, 2011

Good news, bad news for Baltimore-area housing market

Here's the good news/bad news for the Baltimore region's housing market in June (with emoticons!):

:-D  The month was the biggest June in four years for the number of new contracts signed

:-(  But it's still way smaller than during the other Junes in the aughts

:-( or :-D (depending on your perspective)  Average prices were down 7 percent vs. a year earlier

:-(  And the number of home sales that closed in June -- as opposed to contracts signed, which will likely settle in July or August -- hit its lowest level in at least 13 years

:-D On the upside for sellers, competition was waning, with 7 percent fewer homes on the market than a year earlier

:-( But there's a lot of homes that could end up on the market later, courtesy foreclosure

Here's the full story, emoticon-less.

If you like to splash about in raw data, and who doesn't, you can find it at RealEstate Business Intelligence, the stats arm of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

One of the themes of this extended housing bust is "pent up" -- as in demand and supply. People who want to buy but are holding off because of volatility (or tighter mortgage rules or job uncertainty or any number of issues). Homeowners who want to sell but are hoping things will improve if they wait.

Continue reading "Good news, bad news for Baltimore-area housing market" »

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Categories: Housing stats
        

June 28, 2011

Inventory -- and asking prices -- on the rise

The price that sellers are asking for homes in the Baltimore metro area has been on the rise the last few months, but so have the number of homes for sale -- two measures that can't head in the same direction for long.

New figures from Altos Research, a California-based real estate market research firm, show a 12 percent increase in single-family homes for sale in the Baltimore region over the past three months. Asking prices rose 4 percent over the same period.

Altos, which noted in an email to me that prices and inventory "usually have an inverse relationship," said Baltimore's increase in the number of houses for sale was the largest among 21 mid-sized metro areas. The average increase across the group was about 2 percent.

The average asking-price increase was about 3 percent, Altos said.

The company predicts the housing market is entering a "catfish recovery" (we're way past the point of using letters to describe the market's past-and-future trajectory).

Continue reading "Inventory -- and asking prices -- on the rise" »

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Categories: Housing stats
        

June 22, 2011

3 measures that matter for a housing market's health

Lots of factors influence how well or poorly a local housing market will do, but The Wall Street Journal's David Crook argues that you can boil them down to three essentials. And no, it's not location, location, location.

First, jobs. Second, the price of homes vs. the cost to rent. Third, foreclosures.

Makes sense. If the local economy isn't growing, you won't have a growing number of people able to buy. If it's a lot more costly to buy than rent, tenants aren't going to be rushing to purchase -- not in these post-boom days, anyway. And a flood of bank-owned properties on the market makes it harder for regular homeowners to sell.

He offers a "yes, but" to his second rule-of-thumb: "Beware the outliers. Extremely low price-to-rent multiples can be warning flags for seriously depressed markets that are glutted with unsold properties."

Do you think these three factors are the most important measures for a housing market, or do you have others you prefer?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

June 21, 2011

An eight-month pipeline of homes waiting to sell (so far)

Predicting how long a home will take to sell is no certain business. But here's one statistic sellers and buyers alike might like to know:

At the pace of May sales, it would take eight months to find buyers for all the Maryland homes still on the market.

A year earlier, when the federal home buyer tax credit was boosting activity, that pipeline was just over six-and-a-half months long. (Six months or so is usually considered a balanced market, where sellers and buyers have more or less equal power.)

This stat can tell you only so much, of course. There's no guarantee that sales will continue at the same pace or that the number of listings will remain more or less even as some homes come on the market and others go off. How quickly banks repossess homes and put them on the market as new foreclosures is one of the big question marks, what with the slowdown that came in the wake of robo-signing revelations.

But that months-of-supply figure is one bit of market intel you'll want to have if you're looking or selling. Here's the breakdown by county in the Baltimore region for the month of May, and a way to get it down to the ZIP code:

Continue reading "An eight-month pipeline of homes waiting to sell (so far)" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

June 16, 2011

Cheapest, most expensive communities in Md.

Want to live in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country? You won't have to move far. (You might even be there now.)

Coldwell Banker Real Estate's new ranking of just over 2,300 markets in the country by average price puts Annapolis at No. 2,240, meaning it's among the 100 priciest areas -- No. 1 is cheapest. Annapolis is the priciest sizable market in Maryland by Coldwell Banker's measurement, outpacing the Washington suburbs of Rockville and Silver Spring.

The list doesn't include everything you might consider its own market, such as tony Potomac and Bethesda. And the calculation for Baltimore appears to include at least part of Baltimore County, upping its average price to $265,000 rather than the $135,000 measured by the local multiple-listing service.

But hey, everyone loves a ranking. Go on, have a look:

Continue reading "Cheapest, most expensive communities in Md." »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing stats
        

June 10, 2011

May home sale figures

We'll get a snapshot of May home sales and prices today when Metropolitan Regional Information Systems releases its monthly statistics for the Baltimore metro area.

MRIS, which runs the region's multiple-listing service used to buy and sell homes, puts its figures on the website of its stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence. You should be able to see the report here when it's released, likely later this morning.

Check back here for an update.

UPDATE:

The number of May home sales dropped 20 percent from a year ago, when homebuyers were hurrying to close deals in order to qualify for the now-gone federal tax credit. Home prices also fell, down about 4.5 percent on average.

April 2010 was the deadline to get under contract for the tax credit, which meant a big uptick that month and a big drop-off the next, so unsurprisingly, new pending deals this May blew last May's out of the water. The increase: 54 percent.

What's probably more interesting than the May vs. May contract figures is the year-to-date. New contracts signed in the first five months of this year outnumber signings in the corresponding months last year by 10 percent, MRIS says.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

June 9, 2011

Report: Baltimore-area home prices down nearly 9%

Home prices in the Baltimore metro area are down nearly 9 percent compared with a year ago, according to new figures from real estate data firm Clear Capital.

The company, which tracked prices in the four months ending in May, uses a repeat-sale index that tries to get at the true change in home value without the skewing that can come when comparing all homes sold in one period vs. all those that sold in another.

Clear Capital says the metro area saw the same nearly 9 percent drop when comparing February-May with the previous three months, one of the largest declines among big regions. Five other metro areas saw larger drops, including No. 1 Detroit, down 13 percent.

The federally powered Washington region was one of the few to see a gain over the quarter and also over the year.

Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics for Clear Capital, thinks it's pretty clear why the Baltimore area is on the company's "lowest performing major markets" list.

Continue reading "Report: Baltimore-area home prices down nearly 9%" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

June 1, 2011

Attack of the double dip

The much-discussed "double dip" in home prices is upon us, per Standard & Poor's definition: Its Case-Shiller measures that track 10 and 20 cities are now both below their previous lows in 2009.

The Baltimore area isn't part of either index. But we already knew it was into double-dip territory earlier this year, having retrenched after a minor price boost from the first-time homebuyer tax credit in '09 and '10.

In a statement, S&P Indices' David M. Blitzer said the price increases seen in a variety of places during that period was "largely" about the tax credit.

"Excluding the results of that policy, there has been no recovery or even stabilization in home prices during or after the recent recession," he said. "Further, while last year saw signs of an economic recovery, the most recent data do not point to renewed gains."

The Washington area posted a modest gain in March vs. February, according to the S&P data, but that was unusual. Consider Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit and Las Vegas -- in all those markets, values have been falling so fast and long that "average home prices are now below their January 2000 levels," S&P says.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Housing stats
        

May 25, 2011

Home sales in 30 days or less vs. a year-plus

Just over a quarter of the Baltimore-area homes that changed hands in April got under contract in 30 days or less -- about 540 in all. That's a lot more than the number of sales that took at least a year (115, or 6 percent).

Here's what the stats don't say but I'd like to know: How many of the homes that haven't sold yet have languished for upwards of a year? Or have bounced on and off the market as their owners test the waters with no success?

I frequently hear from real estate agents that the first few weeks are critical for a seller. Price the home competitively right off the bat, put it on the market in good condition, make sure you have tons of photos online, etc., and your odds of buyer interest are pretty good -- or at least as good as you can make it given that demand for your neighborhood is mostly outside your control. But what about the homes whose sellers (and/or agents) don't get it right from the get-go and have to adjust course a month or three later?

One way of reading the sales statistics is that it gets progressively harder to sell:

Continue reading "Home sales in 30 days or less vs. a year-plus" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing stats
        

May 24, 2011

Demand may be down, but so is supply (for now)

Just as the number of newly inked pending deals for home sales in the Baltimore metro area slumped in April, so did the number of homes newly listed for sale.

Both dropped just over 20 percent compared with a year ago, when both buyers and sellers were trying to take advantage of the federal tax credit -- buyers so they could get $8,000 from Uncle Sam and sellers so they could, you know, sell. 

Metrostudy, which does market research for homebuilders, noted that new listings are down across the Baltimore-Washington region.

"There are two ways to correct an oversupplied market," Kenneth Wenhold, Mid-Atlantic regional director for Metrostudy, wrote in a market analysis. "The first is to increase demand to sell the supply faster. The second is to reduce the supply itself, and we are effectively doing exactly that by adding fewer units to the market. This should go a very long way to reducing inventories in Maryland and stabilizing the market in 2011, even in Baltimore."

(By "Baltimore," he means the suburban Baltimore area, which is what builders tend to focus on.)

Continue reading "Demand may be down, but so is supply (for now)" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

May 11, 2011

April home sales drop 17 percent in Baltimore area

AprilHomeSalesContracts.jpg

Above: The month of April in the Baltimore metro area, measured by home sales and newly signed contracts.

Sales last month were the second-lowest on record, while contracts were third-lowest (the recessionary years of 2008 and 2009 were worse). Year-over-year drop in the number of sales, which compares now vs. the homebuyer-tax-credit days of April 2010: 17 percent.

The average home sale price in the metro area was about $255,000, down nearly 4 percent.

You can find data by jurisdiction at Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence.

A truly perfect way to compare home prices so as to avoid skewing doesn't seem to exist -- every measure has its downsides. But I like to see repeat-sale indexes that compare the same homes over time. Here's how Clear Capital's repeat-sale index looks for the Baltimore metro area (the city plus the surrounding suburbs) in the last five years:

Continue reading "April home sales drop 17 percent in Baltimore area" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

May 5, 2011

Supply vs. demand in the Baltimore-area housing market

If homes keep selling at the current pace, how long would it take to clear everything currently listed for sale?

Here's the answer for the Baltimore region in March, the most recent statistics from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, keeper of the multiple-listing service:

Anne Arundel County: 8.4 months

Baltimore City: 9.8 months

Baltimore County: 8.5 months

Carroll County: 12.4 months (longest in the region)

Harford County: 7.8 months

Howard County: 6 months (shortest in the region)

Metro area overall: 8.7 months

To put that into perspective, the rule of thumb is generally that six months reflects a balance between demand (buyers) and supply (sellers).

Continue reading "Supply vs. demand in the Baltimore-area housing market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

April 27, 2011

Baltimore rents up, home prices down

Rents in Baltimore (and many other places) are climbing, while typical home prices -- thanks to foreclosure sales -- are way down.

Here are just two of the implications:

--Affordability problems for renters. Twenty-seven percent of renter householders in the Baltimore region were spending more than half their pre-tax income on housing and utilities in 2009, up from 19 percent in 2000, according to a new report by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. And rents have only increased since.

That's a "severe" cost burden, but plenty of others are feeling pinched. Nationwide, just half of renter households were spending less than 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities in 2009, the center said.

"In the last decade, rental housing affordability problems went through the roof," co-author Eric S. Belsky of the joint center said in a statement. "And these affordability problems are marching up the income scale. In real terms, it means more people have less money to spend on household necessities such as food, health care, and savings."

--New grist for the buy vs. rent debate. HotPads.com, a real estate site that shows both rental and for-sale listings, says rents in Baltimore have jumped nearly 5 percent in the last year while asking prices for city homes on the market have slumped nearly 30 percent. That's lowered the "rent ratio" -- its buy vs. rent calculation -- to the point that buying is "more favorable" than renting, the company says. The median home price is 7.8 times higher than a year's worth of rent in Baltimore, down from 10.7 a year ago, HotPads says.

Continue reading "Baltimore rents up, home prices down" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: First-time home buyers, Housing stats, Renting
        

April 15, 2011

Asking-price reductions on homes, by ZIP code

Market intel for home buyers and sellers alike: See how quickly homeowners in various ZIP codes reduce their asking prices and by how much.

The new data, from real estate search site Trulia, maps price reductions across the country -- as well as the likelihood of a second drop in asking prices.

Two examples:

In 21244, Windsor Mill in Baltimore County, the first reduction is 10 percent and comes in an average of 49 days. Probability of a second reduction: 44 percent. In the much pricier Monkton, 21111, the average reduction is 9 percent and takes a lot longer in coming -- 152 days. Sellers are also less likely to drop their list price again.

While we're on the subject of interesting links, here are two more -- both on property taxes: 

Continue reading "Asking-price reductions on homes, by ZIP code" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing events, Housing stats
        

April 12, 2011

March home sales, prices drop in Baltimore area

March10housingmarket.jpg

 

That roller coaster pictured above is the last year of the housing market in the Baltimore metro area, at a glance.

In blue -- the figure with the huge swoops and swoons -- is the year-over-year change in the number of homes sold, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm. In red is the year-over-year change in the average home sale price.

The federal first-time homebuyer tax credit is what drove the number of home sales up, and then down, last year. Buyers rushed to beat the deadline (contract signed by April, closing by June -- later pushed back to September). And at least some of them were people who would otherwise have bought later in the year.

Sales began to rise again in December, but new numbers for March show we're back in declining territory year-over-year. Probably not a tremendous shock, since we're now (and for the next few months will be) comparing against the height of the 2010 tax-credit boost. The April 2010 bump was particularly large, nearly 40 percent.

Even when the tax credit was in effect, however, market activity wasn't back to normal for the region. About 1,960 homes changed hands in the metro area in March 2010. That's 100 more than this March and 330 more than March 2009, but it's less than all the previous Marches in the last decade.

In March 2000, when fewer people lived in the area, more than 2,370 homes changed hands.

Here's the news story about March home sales, complete with an anecdote about a Baltimore County home seller who found people were more interested in his house when he offered to throw in a '93 Taurus (with low mileage) as a freebie.

April 8, 2011

Housing market in balance in some counties, way off in others

If you're trying to sell a home, you might want to move it to Montgomery County.

Economists generally say supply and demand is in balance if it would take six months for all the homes currently for sale to find buyers at the current pace. More months and buyers have the edge. Less, advantage sellers.

Montgomery stood at about 5.5 months in February, lowest in the state. Do the months' supply calculation for pending deals -- this is normally a busy time of year for contract-signing -- and it drops to just over three.

Call it the Washington effect. Maryland counties with the lowest inventory compared with sales and contracts are all Washington suburbs, either officially (like Frederick and Prince George's) or unofficially (like Howard and Anne Arundel, which send as many commuters south as north).

Counties at the other end of the spectrum are largely on the Eastern Shore. Garrett, in far Western Maryland, had the highest months' supply no matter how you cut it -- sales (more than 70 months) or contracts (just over 40 months).

Here's a chart showing pending deals, inventory and how they compare for February: 

Continue reading "Housing market in balance in some counties, way off in others" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 31, 2011

Pat Hiban: Surge in part of Md. housing market as buyers, investors leap

PatHiban.jpg

 

When I did a Q&A with real estate agent Pat Hiban at the beginning of 2009, he said foreclosure resales were about to hit in a big way, prices would continue to head downward and the higher end of the market had been "severely beaten up."

Now he returns as a guest blogger -- the first of what I hope will be many -- to talk about a new market shift he's seeing.

Hiban (pictured above) has been in the business for more than 20 years and runs the Pat Hiban Real Estate Group with Keller Williams Crossroads Realty. He's a billion-dollar agent who focuses primarily on Central Maryland and as far south as Washington, and he has a book coming out later in the year.

Take it away, Pat:

 

-------------

Very recently, the market has taken a major turn upward with regards to activity. I have one property on Nursery Lane in Gaithersburg with 23 offers on it -- multiple offers escalating the list price significantly. This is a single-family home listed at $630,000.

I currently have 51 properties pending whereas I am used to about 30. As I write this, we are negotiating 12 offers on 12 different properties and on an average day we may only be negotiating two or three.

The housing statistics for the state of Maryland show pending units are up 34 percent compared with February 2010. Because the number of active listings has only decreased by a mere 7 percent, this tells me that it's not an inventory shortage that has created a frisky market but a large increase in buyers.

Why have so many buyers come out of the woodwork?

Four very technical factors exist today that didn't even a year ago:

Continue reading "Pat Hiban: Surge in part of Md. housing market as buyers, investors leap" »

March 30, 2011

Home prices up 317 percent!! (Or, why you should take stats with a grain of salt)

Here's a housing market that had a seemingly rip-roaring February: Kent County's average sale price soared 317 percent.

If I thought sellers in that Eastern Shore county were actually getting more than four times the amount that comparable homes sold for a year ago at a time when prices overall are falling, I'd be rushing out there to write a story. But here's a clue that it's apples-to-pizza -- well, besides the ginormous $96,000-to-$400,000 jump: Nine homes changed hands in the 20,000-person county last month. (A year ago? Eight.)

It's not just about the skewing that can come with averages. The median price jumped 158 percent. The thing is, people have the unhelpful habit of buying the homes they want rather than exactly the sorts of homes that sold a year ago, so price comparisons can get hairy.

Take Kent County in November, for instance: prices dropped 60 percent.

While we're having fun with statistics, there's always Somerset County, another small jurisdiction on the Eastern Shore. The number of home sales there rose 125 percent in February vs. a year earlier -- from four to nine.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing humor, Housing stats
        

March 11, 2011

February home sales up, prices down

The housing market continued two trends in February: the number of home sales rose while prices dropped.

Sales increased 7 percent compared with a year earlier, less strongly than in January but still heading in the right direction (if we're ever going to see inventory get back to a normal level, anyway).

Average prices fell 5 percent to just under $250,000 -- about $12,000 below the average price six years earlier.

Here's the county-by-county breakdown, which ranges quite a bit.

The other economic report out Thursday was Maryland job numbers, and that was a doozy. The U.S. Department of Labor, which benchmarks state figures every March, revised 2010 numbers so sharply that the 25,000-job gain the state appeared to have in the 12 months ending in December turned -- poof! -- into about 4,500 jobs. Quite a depressing magic trick.

Here's the story about both that report and home sales, the latter of which gets second billing.

You can find the housing-market figures from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems on the website of its stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence.

A few more stats:

New pending deals, contracts that were signed in February and will later turn into sales if all goes smoothly, rose 25 percent from a year earlier. That's the same increase reported in January.

New listings rose, too -- 8 percent. There were nearly 16,000 homes on the market in total in February.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 10, 2011

Making it official: 2010 in Baltimore's housing market

While we wait for February home sale statistics, here's something to whet your appetite: the official 2010 tally for the Baltimore metro area from the keeper of the multiple-listing service. (Earlier figures were preliminary.)

Overall, the number of home sales dropped about 3 percent in the region -- the city and surrounding suburbs -- last year vs. 2009, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence.

Prices dropped not quite 1 percent on average, to $274,000. (The decline in median price, for those who prefer that measure, was 2 percent -- with half the homes selling for less than $235,000 and half selling for more.)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 1, 2011

"Starter home" neighborhoods

Where can you afford to purchase a home if your limit is $250,000 or less? Many more places than a few years ago.

The average sale price was between $50,000 and $250,000 in 40 ZIP codes in the Baltimore metro area last year, spread around every jurisdiction in the region except pricey Howard County. (A few more were under $50,000, but that seems like the point below which sales are much more likely to be homes in bad repair picked up by real estate investors, rather than by first-time buyers.)

They account for almost one-third of ZIP codes in the metro area that had at least a handful of home sales last year. Many more had some sales in that price range -- just not enough to put the average there.

Neighborhoods are a more useful categorization in the city than ZIPs, and just over 120 in Baltimore had average prices between $50,000 and $250,000 last year. That's close to two-thirds of the neighborhoods with at least a handful of sales.

Here's the list of ZIPs and city neighborhoods:

Continue reading ""Starter home" neighborhoods" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: First-time home buyers, Housing stats
        

February 28, 2011

Land prices haven't followed home prices off the cliff

Land is a critical part of homebuilding. Those homes have to sit somewhere, right? But while house prices have fallen significantly -- about 19 percent in the Baltimore metro area since peaking, according to Moody's Analytics -- the cost of the ground, not so much.

"Land and lot prices have not declined substantially in most of the Baltimore metropolitan area," said Kenneth Wenhold, Mid-Atlantic regional director for Metrostudy, which does market research for homebuilders. "Perhaps to a degree in the exurban areas (Cecil County, Washington County, Eastern Shore), but for the most part, prices are surprisingly close to where they were at the peak."

Why? In an email interview, Wenhold blamed it on "very tight" lot supplies, "to the point of seeing bidding wars between builders who need to refill their pipelines." The Baltimore region is "among the tightest markets" for available lots, similar to places such as San Francisco and southern coastal California, he said.

"The result is that builders are constructing smaller, less feature-rich homes on very expensive lots, skewing the lot-to-home [cost] ratio to over 40 percent in some cases, as compared to 28 percent to 30 percent during the peak (2003-2005)," he said. "Builders are only able to do this as they have cut overhead to the bone, are spending fewer dollars in sticks, bricks and labor (since it is a smaller house), and accepting much thinner margins."

Typical lot prices in the region range a lot:

Continue reading "Land prices haven't followed home prices off the cliff" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats, New developments
        

February 23, 2011

Overstated home sale numbers?

How many homes are people buying, and how much did they pay?

The go-to source for that information has long been the National Association of Realtors. But real estate data firm CoreLogic says the trade group's tally of the number of homes sold is too high by a substantial amount:

Historically, the CoreLogic existing sales data have covered about 85% to 90% of all NAR’s existing home sales data. However, in 2006 NAR’s sales data became elevated relative to the CoreLogic, MBA [Mortgage Bankers Association], HMDA [Home Mortgage Disclosure Act] and Census sales related data, and that trend has continued and become more pronounced through 2010. There are several reasons for the divergence, including benchmarking drift, more sales going through MLS systems due to consolidation and a lower share of for sale by owners (FSBO) home sales. Net, NAR’s existing home sales data are overstated by about 15% to 20%.

A CoreLogic economist told The Wall Street Journal that he sees it as the difficulty of adjusting data accurately in times of big changes -- the National Association of Realtors' statistics are built on a sample -- rather than a "gaming-the-numbers issue."

But some were quick to see ill intent from a group whose members benefit if people think it's a good time to buy. "Where are the subpoenas and Congressional hearings?" asked trader Karl Denninger on the Seeking Alpha blog, suggesting that people overpaid for homes as a result of relying on faulty sale data.

The National Association of Realtors is re-examining its numbers, The Wall Street Journal said. (Reuters reported afterward that the NAR was calling any overcounting "relatively minor.")

So what about the local figures? 

They're reported by the company that runs the area's multiple-listing service, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (specifically, its stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence). If there's any intentional adjusting going -- starting with a sample and extrapolating upward or trying to account for unlisted sales -- it would be news to me. So that seems to be a more solid starting point, at least. But the recent back-and-forth that came when MRIS's stats arm redesigned its statistics database wasn't exactly confidence-inspiring.

One useful comparison is the multiple-list sales vs. all recorded arms-length home sales. The multiple list should account for most but not all the arms-length sales, because not all homes are listed before they're sold. The state Department of Assessments and Taxation, as it happens, just shipped me data on all arms-length sales recorded in 2010.

Baltimore metro area home sales last year as originally reported by MRIS: just under 21,500.

Baltimore metro area home sales last year as recorded with the state: just over 23,900.

Does that mean everything's hunky dory? I'd need prior years to see if the difference is typical, and since I'm on vacation this week I don't have access to most of my files. But at least the multiple-list figure is less than the state's figure.

Statewide, that's not the case.

MRIS covers most of Maryland, with the rest handled by the Coastal Association of Realtors. Together, they show just under 50,900 homes sold last year, according to the tally by the Maryland Association of Realtors.

The state, meanwhile, has records of 47,817 arms-length home sales -- about 3,000 less than were supposedly sold on the multiple list.

Hmm.

Thoughts?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 21, 2011

The Baltimore region's housing market in 2010

Bottom line on the Baltimore metro area's housing market last year: There is no bottom line. It really depends which part of it you're talking about.

Read about the variety in Sunday's story, assuming you haven't already.

Check out the maps showing the change in average price and sales in the region's ZIP codes. (There are two maps of city neighborhoods, too, but darned if I can find them online. I'll update with links if they're out there.)

Play with the searchable database of ZIP codes to see specifics. (Thanks to Patrick Maynard for handling the programming on that feature!)

Click here for an Excel chart with the city neighborhood data on one worksheet and the ZIP code data on another.

Have fun with photo galleries of the most expensive places and other housing-market extremes, put together by biz editor Liz Hacken.

Thoughts, suggestions? Comment away.

How did 2010 treat your neighborhood?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 18, 2011

Coming this weekend: Home-sale trends near you

Check out the paper this weekend: If everything goes according to plan, you'll see the the story we do every six months that looks at housing-market trends down to the ZIP code and city neighborhood -- the one with lots of color-coded maps showing what's up and down. ("The story with all the maps," in fact, is how I always explain it in the newsroom.)

Online, you'll find a database with the numbers behind the maps, aimed at readers who want specifics rather than ranges.

Links to come, once they're live.

And then I'm taking some time off. I've spent so much time squinting at numbers that I've had a continual headache the last two weeks. (Time for a new prescription, maybe ...)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

Distress sales in 2010

Foreclosures and short sales -- but particularly foreclosures -- were a sizable chunk of the Baltimore region's housing market last year. Nevada we're not, but distress sales increased across our metro area.

Here's the breakdown for 2010, with numbers pulled by Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' multiple-listing service:

ForeclosuresShort salesDistress sales as a % of totalYoY chg in foreclosuresYoY chg in short sales
Anne Arundel Co.80137124%52%6%
Baltimore City1,81132340%62%66%
Baltimore Co.1,14639925%54%27%
Carroll Co.18310222%40%38%
Harford Co.52117928%112%38%
Howard Co.33124120%44%12%
Balt. metro area4,7931,61528%60%26%

 

The number of Maryland mortgages in default moved downward last year after several years of rapid escalation, as colleague Lorraine Mirabella reports.

How have you been affected by foreclosures and short sales -- if at all?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Distress sales, Housing stats, The foreclosure mess
        

February 17, 2011

Baltimore-area homes under contract on the rise

Almost 2,000 homes in the Baltimore metro area went under contract last month, deals that will turn into sales down the road if all goes smoothly. That figure, which includes contracts with contingencies, jumped more than 40 percent from a year earlier, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Just to put that in perspective: The region saw the most newly signed contracts for a January since 2007, but it's still well below the '07 figure of about 2,400 -- not the mention the 2,600-plus signed in go-go January 2005.

MRIS's stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence, now shows how many contracts were signed in a particular month as well as how many deals are pending in total. That's interesting because it helps tell the story of dragged-out sales, the ones that take far longer than the traditional 45 to 60 days to get to the settlement table.

Consider:

Continue reading "Baltimore-area homes under contract on the rise " »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 16, 2011

Home sales, super quick and very slow

Think it's impossible to sell a home quickly these days?

Last month, 100 homes in the Baltimore metro area were on the market and back off -- with a contract -- in one to 10 days. So it can be done. (About 130 more sold in 11 to 20 days, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, keeper of the local multiple-listing service.)

All told, about 350 homes -- a quarter of the properties sold in January -- were on the market for one to 30 days.

But there are plenty of homes that sit and sit, too. Just among those selling last month, about 150 were listed for at least six months before going under contract. Two were on the market for -- wait for it -- at least two years.  

Here's the range:

Continue reading "Home sales, super quick and very slow" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 11, 2011

How much, exactly, were home sales up in January?

January home sale figures came out yesterday morning, but it wasn't until well into the afternoon that I knew what the numbers actually were.

The first set I saw said 25 percent more homes sold compared with a year earlier in the Baltimore metro area. But wait -- elsewhere on the website run by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm was an area profile that pegged the increase at 23 percent. So I called for clarification and was eventually shipped over a third set of numbers showing a 15 percent increase.

And the percentage change on that one was calculated wrong.

Oh, my aching head.

The final answer, according to MRIS's RealEstate Business Intelligence, was a 17 percent increase. (Average prices fell 5 percent.)

RealEstate Business Intelligence said it was opening-day glitches after a massive switchover from an old sales-statistics database to a new one, which is slicing the multiple-listing-service numbers in ways we couldn't get at before. Interested in how many homes were snapped up in 10 days or less? Now you can find that out.

"We recalculated everything this month for the past 13 years," said Margaret O'Sullivan, vice president of operations at RBI. "Before, it wasn’t queryable. It was like a big spreadsheet. ... In order to be more dynamic going forward, we had to go through these pains."

Continue reading "How much, exactly, were home sales up in January?" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 10, 2011

Title company misused escrow funds, state says

While you're waiting for January home sale stats to appear today, here are two very different stories to read that both have something to say about the housing market:

First, Crofton-based Beltway Title and Abstract Inc. has had its licensed suspended by the state after auditors discovered that more than $1 million in escrowed funds intended for real estate transaction costs had been misappropriated, the Maryland Insurance Administration said Wednesday. The money, pulled out over a period of seven months, was spent on business expenses, the state said.

Here's the insurance administration's license-suspension order.

Second, the new Census 2010 numbers show population growth -- and decline -- across the state. According to the count, Baltimore has 30,000 fewer residents than it did a decade ago. As one colleague pointed out, that works out to a loss of eight people per day. ("I hope people aren't leaving because of me - I have so many arms to embrace you!" quipped @manwomanstatue, the self-proclaimed "most hated public art in Charm City.")

The city has successfully challenged census estimates before: The 2003 figures were revised upward by nearly 15,000, for instance. But the decennial census is a count rather than an annual estimate.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement that the 30,000-person loss was the city's smallest since the decade of the 1950s. (Baltimore's population peaked in 1950 at about 950,000 before dropping by nearly 11,000 by 1960.)

Still, the newest loss figure is striking for a decade that brought an inflow of housing-bubble newcomers and ended at a time when moving -- if you had to sell your home first -- was no easy proposition. (Still isn't, but it's a new decade now.)

Thoughts?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 1:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Closing costs, Housing stats, Moving
        

February 9, 2011

Report: Baltimore-area home prices down 17% since mid-2007

If you bought a home in the Baltimore metro area three years ago and put down less than 20 percent, you're probably underwater on your loan.

That's the takeaway from a new housing analysis by Fiserv, which says home prices in the region dropped 17 percent between summer 2007 and summer 2010.

Fiserv, provider of the data that fuels the Case-Shiller index, expects a decrease of not quite 2 percent in the metro area -- that is, Baltimore and its surrounding suburbs -- over the 12 months ending this summer. Prices in Washington, by contrast, "have already stabilized," the firm says. (It produces its forecasts with Moody's Analytics.)

Here's another forecast to add to your score card if you're keeping track at home: Fiserv and Moody's are predicting that three-quarters of metro areas will see prices stop falling by the end of this year, with all leveling out by the end of next year.

But don't count on significant price gains anytime soon, the firm says: 

Continue reading "Report: Baltimore-area home prices down 17% since mid-2007" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Housing forecasts, Housing stats
        

January 26, 2011

What everyone's paying in city property taxes, one by one

Baltimore's new release of government data at OpenBaltimore lets you see how much the owners of each property are paying without having to look it up one at a time at the city's property-tax lookup site.

It's a huge file, the sort requiring a database manager such as Access to analyze, but you can page through the display on the site itself and do some sorting there as well. Top amount: $4.3 million -- that's for an office tower. Lowest: thousands of $0s for religious, nonprofit and government properties.

Also at OpenBaltimore: parking fines, 311 calls and a lot more.

Find something intriguing? Please share.

I'm not trying to make this a property-tax week, by the way. I'll have some completely non-tax-related topics for you soon.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 3:40 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Housing stats, Property taxes
        

January 20, 2011

The housing-bust hit to houses, townhouses, condos

Md%20home%20sales%20MDP.png

 

Source: Maryland Department of Planning

 

Sales of all types of homes have really plummeted in the state since the peak days, as you can see from this new Maryland Department of Planning chart. The number of single-family homes didn't just drop well below its 2002 level, for instance, but also below the 2002 level for townhouses -- which had accounted for about half as many sales as detached homes that year.

Here's how the decline by housing type breaks down:

Continue reading "The housing-bust hit to houses, townhouses, condos" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 17, 2011

Is your home typical?

If, while waiting for your turn in the shower, you occasionally ponder whether most Americans have more bathrooms than you do, HSH Associates has just the infographic for you. The financial publisher pulled statistics from the American Housing Survey to create the typical house. Drumroll, please:

 


Related Resources: Mortgage Rates and Mortgage Calculator at HSH.com

 

How does that match up with your living arrangements?

Here are some Baltimore-specific statistics for owners and renters alike, drawn from the separate American Community Survey:

Continue reading "Is your home typical?" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 13, 2011

Metrostudy: 'Tax credit hangover' is over

You never know for sure if the first upturn in home sales after a stretch of decreases is a blip or a trend until you can look back with 20-20 hindsight, but a homebuilding market research firm is ready to call December the start of a new era.

"The fact that sales are positive on a year over year basis, and that contracts continue to trend higher in many submarkets, indicates that the 'Tax Credit Hangover' is done," writes Kenneth Wenhold, Mid-Atlantic regional director for Metrostudy -- referring, of course, to the federal homebuyer tax credit that phased out last summer.

And here's something you don't see every month: The Baltimore suburbs saw a bigger turnaround than the Washington metro area. (The Baltimore area was worsening from a seller's perspective in the fall, so we have farther to go.) Sales rose eight percent in the local suburbs Metrostudy focuses on -- Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Cecil County, Harford County and Howard County -- while, for instance, falling 3 percent in Northern Virginia and 12 percent in D.C.

Here are a few more of Wenhold's Baltimore-area market musings:

Continue reading "Metrostudy: 'Tax credit hangover' is over" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 11, 2011

A decade of Baltimore-area home sales

HomeSales00s.png

Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems

 

Above: The craziest decade for the housing market, at a glance.

Preliminary numbers from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems show buyers in the Baltimore metro area -- the city and surrounding counties -- closing deals on about 21,500 homes last year, down 3 percent from the year before.

That's about the same number of homes that sold in 2008.

MRIS releases official year-end figures in February, often higher as a result of last-minute additions by real estate agents, so I'm using preliminary numbers only to allow for fairer comparisons. It'll be interesting, once we have the full results, to see if the effect of the federal home buyer tax credit was a wash. (Preliminary figures show a sales gain of 3 percent in 2009, counterbalanced by the 3 percent drop last year.)

Check out colleague Lorraine Mirabella's story about the newest market trends, including the sales increase in December after five months of losses. (I, alas, am home sick.)

Do you think the increase in December means the number of home sales is stabilizing? (In case you're wondering, December 2009 sales weren't nearly as high as November 2009, originally the deadline for the home buyer tax credit, but they did post a 10 percent gain over the previous December.)

One other nugget of information to chew on: The number of pending deals, which will turn into sales if all goes as planned, rose 10 percent last month vs. a year earlier.

Prices are another matter. The average fell about 7 percent in December.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 16, 2010

Prices reduced on 40% of Baltimore homes for sale

Baltimore homes for sale with at least one price reduction now make up 40 percent of the market, according to real estate site Trulia.

That's higher than all but three of the country's large cities -- Minneapolis (44 percent), Mesa, Ariz. (43 percent) and Phoeniz, Ariz. (42 percent). Nationally, 27 percent of homes for sale have had at least one price drop.

Average reduction in Baltimore, according to Trulia: 12 percent, or more than $23,000.

Trulia focuses on cities rather than suburbs, but there are plenty of homes in the counties around Baltimore that are listed for less than they once were, too. (You can find pages and pages of "reduced!" listings in Annapolis, Columbia, Owings Mills and other communities.)

HousingTracker.net, a separate site that looks at what people are asking for their homes, says the typical listing price so far this month is $222,000 in the Baltimore metro area as a whole. It was $325,000 in December 2006 -- a more than $100,000 change in four years. (Unfortunately, HousingTracker.net doesn't go back much farther than that.)

While we're on the subject of home prices:

Continue reading "Prices reduced on 40% of Baltimore homes for sale " »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: For sale, Housing stats
        

December 14, 2010

How Baltimore neighborhoods fared in the 2000s

High-income Baltimore neighborhoods might have retained more of their housing-bubble gains than moderate- and low-income communities, a new analysis by Johns Hopkins graduate students suggests.

The public-policy students, who wanted to understand how the drama-filled last decade affected 14 varied city neighborhoods, found that home prices in 2009 were far above their 2000 levels in most places -- but as a group, the high-income spots held up the best.

The hardest-hit neighborhoods weren't low income. Frankford and Belair-Edison -- both moderate-income areas in Northeast Baltimore -- saw values fall so much during the bust that they ended the decade with prices slightly below their 2000 levels, after accounting for inflation. (I know we don't normally think of home prices in an inflation-adjusted way, but the students wanted to try to get at the real change in value.)

Rising foreclosures seem to be a key reason for the big price drops in those two neighborhoods.

Read on to see how median home sale prices changed in the analyzed neighborhoods. And tell me if you're surprised by the community that retained most of its boom-time price levels. (Hint: It's an exception to the high-income-neighborhood trend.)

Continue reading "How Baltimore neighborhoods fared in the 2000s" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 10, 2010

Home sales fall, but contracts rise in Baltimore area

Home sales in the Baltimore metro area continued to plummet in November, but the number of newly signed contracts rose for the first time in months — a hopeful sign.

About 1,530 homes changed hands in November, according to figures released Friday by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, the Rockville company that runs the area’s multiple-listing service. That was a 32 percent drop from a year earlier, when buyers were rushing to beat a deadline for a federal tax credit for first-time purchasers.

The $8,000 credit was ultimately extended so buyers could sign contracts as late as April 30. Contract-signing swooned afterward — until November broke the streak. Buyers and sellers agreed to 100 more contracts last month than they did a year earlier, a 6 percent increase.

That means sales could stop falling soon. Contracts often turn into settled deals in a month or two.

The average sale price in November was essentially unchanged from a year earlier, at just over $260,000, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems said.

Sales numbers are solid, but prices should be taken with a grain of salt. Averages can be skewed up or down if the homes that sell one month aren’t comparable to those sold the previous year.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:18 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

Ready for November home sales?

We'll find out how many people bought homes in November -- and for how much -- later this morning. In the meantime, chew on these figures from October:

--35 percent of the homes sold in the Baltimore metro area were financed with FHA-insured loans

--32 percent were financed with conventional loans

--21 percent were bought with cash, though real estate investors tell me that category includes the deals they struck with money loaned to them by other local investors

--7 percent were financed with VA-insured loans

--3 percent were assumptions, where the buyer took on the seller's loan

--The rest were financed in other ways, including just over half a dozen in which the buyer's "lender" was the seller

The numbers come from the stats arm of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the area's multiple-listing service.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 1:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 3, 2010

Home prices up for smaller single-family homes?

It might be a statistical quirk, but the average price for small single-family houses in the Baltimore metro area -- two bedrooms or less -- jumped more than 20 percent in October.

This October: about $227,000. Last October: about $187,000.

Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the region's multiple-listing service, tracks the change in average price by a variety of home types, and everything else is down year-over-year. But there seems to be a trend of single-family house prices holding up better -- at least on average -- than everything else.

Consider townhouses and rowhouses: 

Continue reading "Home prices up for smaller single-family homes?" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 11:12 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 24, 2010

The market for pricey homes

EdgewaterHouse.jpg

 

About 120 homes sold for at least $1 million in the Baltimore metro area during the first half of this year. Most expensive: $3.9 million in Baltimore County. (The house pictured above, part of the Sun's "top properties" photo gallery, sold for $1.37 million in Edgewater this spring.)

How does that compare with earlier days, I wondered? So I checked. One of the nice things about swimming in numbers -- being able to satisfy your curiosity.

Pricey sales are actually up quite a bit from the first half of 2009, when 83 homes sold in that high-end category, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data.

But they're down a lot compared with the first half of 2005 -- which probably won't surprise you all, since that was the height of the bubble. More than 230 homes sold for at least $1 million during those six months, nearly twice as many as in the first half of this year. And the top of the top was pricier, too: $5.2 million for digs in Anne Arundel.

That doesn't mean there's nothing really pricey up for sale at the moment in Maryland. There's this "lodge," for instance.

And lots of people are hoping their homes will end up in the $1 million sales club -- 610 as of October in the Baltimore metro area. Of those, 10 have asking prices of $5 million or more.

The $1 million-plus crowd is just one price category, so these stats don't fully answer reader Chappy10's question about how sales have changed in the various ranges in the last several years. But it was the quickest and easiest: a lot less to tally than other prices. I do plan to do a full analysis when time allows, Chappy10.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 18, 2010

Priciest home sale in Md.: $15 million

So an Eastern Shore home -- and its thousands of acres -- is on the market for $30 million. But what's the most someone has ever paid for a house in Maryland?

Answer: $15 million. At least, that's the most paid for a home changing hands on the multiple-listing service, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

The 11,500-square foot house, built in 1986 on a little over 4 acres, is located in Potomac, a Montgomery County community usually preceded by the adjective "tony." The current owner bought it in August 2005, just about the peak of the market as measured by sales pace.

Here's the aerial view -- you can get to the street view from there.

Continue reading "Priciest home sale in Md.: $15 million" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 17, 2010

Price reductions hit (recent) record in Baltimore

TruliaNov10.jpg

 

Nearly 40 percent of Baltimore homes listed for sale have had at least one price reduction, compared with 27 percent nationally, according to real estate site Trulia.

Baltimore's figure is a record high for the city -- at least for the last 18 months, which is when Trulia started tracking asking-price movements. Fourteen other cities broke their previous records as well. Check out the map above, which Trulia put together. (The message that went with the asterisk didn't copy over, but it's just a heads-up that the records go back a year and a half.)

Baltimore ranks fourth among the 15 cities with record highs. Minneapolis is No. 1 with price reductions on 46 percent of listings.

Continue reading "Price reductions hit (recent) record in Baltimore" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: For sale, Housing stats
        

November 15, 2010

A new look for local housing statistics

If you enjoy soaking in raw data about the local housing market, you'll want to update your website bookmarks.

Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the area's multiple-listing service, has moved its publicly available home-sale statistics to a different site as part of its new RealEstate Business Intelligence arm. Most of the monthly data you could find on the old site (number of sales, prices, pending deals) has been moved over, with the rest slated to come later, the RBI folks say. There's new stuff there, too.

RBI calculates the month-over-month change for you as well as the usual year-over-year, for instance. It also put together charts that show at a glance the change in the last several years by home sales, pending deals, average and median price, etc. And there's a list of the biggest movers (up and down) in the Baltimore-Washington area by price, sales and the like.

If you prefer videos, you'll find some here.

The firm is set to roll out more options this week as it promotes a new "premium product" for customers -- agents, brokers, appraisers -- that is designed to make slicing the data simpler. (What's the trend for four-bedroom Colonials in Baltimore County, for instance.)

If you're not in that target audience, the revamped site will still mean more to look at than you had access to before, said Jonathan Hill, president of RBI. There's a heat map for the region that you can adjust to show days on market, new listings and other useful statistics, plus you'll get a ranking of every jurisdiction covered by MRIS.

Continue reading "A new look for local housing statistics" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 1:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 11, 2010

October home sales in the Baltimore metro area

Here's a snapshot of how the housing market in the Baltimore metro area looked in October:

--Home sales dropped 30 percent vs. a year earlier, when buyers were rushing to get the first-time home buyer tax credit

--The number of homes changing hands totaled less than 1,600, the smallest amount in the month of October for at least 12 years (that's how far back the records go)

--Average prices fell just over 1 percent, to about $272,000 (though remember to take this calculation with a grain of salt)

--"Ouch" stat of the day: It would take four-and-a-half years to sell all the $1 million-plus homes on the market at the current pace of deal-making. (Home sales in this price range dropped, unlike in September.)

The new figures, released by an arm of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, show the drop in sales ranging by county. The biggest decline was 39 percent in Baltimore County. The smallest was 19 percent in Howard County, closely followed by Harford County's 22 percent drop.

Every time I write about home prices in the Baltimore metro area, someone inevitably looks at the average price and thinks that's for the city. So just to be clear: Metro area. Metro area. Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County. (The federal definition includes Queen Anne's County as well, but most local number-crunchers leave that Eastern Shore jurisdiction out.)

You can see the average price by county (and Baltimore City) right here.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 9, 2010

Small declines in Baltimore-area home prices

The slump in home prices was less severe in the Baltimore metro area over the past four months than it was in most large regions, according to a new analysis that compares recent housing-market performance with the spring period.

Prices fell less than 1 percent in the metro area, ranking the metro area sixth, says real estate data firm Clear Capital. One other metro area had a smaller drop -- San Jose, Calif. -- while four posted price increases.

That's a turnaround from earlier in the year, when the Baltimore area showed up on Clear Capital's "lowest performing" list. The region apparently didn't feel the upward pull of the first-time home buyer tax credit as much as some markets, places in hangover mode now that the federal incentive is gone:

Clear Capital's "lowest performing" list is peppered with "lower-priced markets that reacted positively to the tax credits of the last eighteen months, and are now giving back the short term gains, and then some," the firm says.

The number of home sales slumped in our metro area post-credit, however. In May, the month after the deadline to sign contracts, new pending deals declined more than 30 percent compared with a year earlier and even more sharply vs. April, according to separate figures from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Clear Capital's figures do show prices in the Baltimore metro area down 4.7 percent year-over-year, despite the smallish quarterly drop. That's out of sync with most of the regions on the "highest performing" list -- two-thirds are up vs. a year ago.

Here are those top 15 markets, as measured by quarter-over-quarter change:

Continue reading "Small declines in Baltimore-area home prices" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 3, 2010

The price ranges with rising home sales (surprise!)

Q: Did any price ranges see home-sale gains in September, despite the overall drop?

A: Why, yes. So glad you asked.

You probably won't be shocked to hear that sales in the under-$100,000 category increased, compared with a year ago, since that's the most affordable to buyers and is also the niche most attractive to investors. But guess what also rose? Sales of $1-million-plus homes.

I analyzed sales data from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems for Baltimore and the surrounding suburbs, and here's what the stats showed: 

Continue reading "The price ranges with rising home sales (surprise!)" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 2, 2010

Over the longer term, a big Baltimore-area increase in home prices

BaltmsaFNC.jpg

 

Here's how home prices in the Baltimore metro area have changed over the decade, according to a new housing-market index. If it looks like the roller coaster is more up than down, FNC Inc. -- a mortgage technology firm that put the index together -- says you're not seeing things.

Prices in the Baltimore region appreciated more since 2003 than other large metro areas, according to FNC. Using a combination of sale prices, appraisals and property records, it calculates a 7 percent annual increase in our area. U.S. home values rose a little more than half a percent annually over the same period, FNC says.

Continue reading "Over the longer term, a big Baltimore-area increase in home prices" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 26, 2010

Home-price decline ranks Md. 19th

Maryland's drop in home prices was 19th highest nationwide in August, a new CoreLogic report suggests.

The real estate information firm says the state's year-over-year drop was 2.9 percent, including the effect of distress sales such as foreclosures. (Without those sales, prices were essentially unchanged from Aug. 2009, the company said.)

Biggest slider -- Idaho, down 14 percent.

Eleven states, though, posted price increases, according to CoreLogic's calculations. Topping the list was Maine, up 5.8 percent. That's with distress sales. Without them, the state's home prices actually dropped, CoreLogic says, down nearly 1 percent. (It doesn't wade into the possible reasons for that brain-teaser.)

Bottom line, from CoreLogic's perspective, is that price decreases are bleeding into more communities:

"Price declines are geographically expanding as 78 out of the largest 100 metropolitan areas are experiencing declines, up from 58 just one month ago," Mark Fleming, its chief economist, said in a statement.

The Baltimore metro area is on the list: Prices dropped 4.5 percent. (Counting only the non-distress sales, price fell about 2.6 percent.)

CoreLogic crunches its stats using repeat sales of single-family homes, an attempt to avoid comparing apples (i.e. four-bedroom Colonials) to oranges (i.e. one-bedroom ranchers).

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 21, 2010

Asking-price decreases on local homes: $100k in 4 years

The typical asking price for a home in the Baltimore metro area is just under $232,000 these days, according to HousingTracker.net.

Four years ago? Just over $335,000.

Among pricier homes, the drop comes to $136,000 over the same stretch of years, to about $363,000. The price drop on less-expensive homes is $86,000, to just under $150,000.

Homes on the market now aren't necessarily close stand-ins for the ones offered to buyers four years ago, so there's always a question of apples vs. oranges -- but however you cut it, it's a notable change.

On a related note: The newest report from real estate site Trulia shows 35 percent of homes for sale in Baltimore City have had at least one asking-price reduction. That's up slightly from September. Average reduction: 12 percent.

It's not that no one's selling, of course. But all the recent talk about where things stand for homeowners in the mood to move has depressed Wonk reader Gina:

Continue reading "Asking-price decreases on local homes: $100k in 4 years" »

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

October 19, 2010

Changing balance of power between home buyers and sellers

MonthsSupplySept.gif

 

Want a visual for the balance of power in the Baltimore metro area housing market? This is pretty much it.

The months of supply -- how long it would take to sell all homes on the market at the current pace  -- dropped to hardly anything during the housing boom/bubble  and zoomed upward after that. (The 2009 dip came as buyers reacted to the federal tax credit for first-time purchasers.)

Low supply equals power to the sellers -- you can really see why buyers found homes purchased out from under them if they didn't bid immediately back in the 2003-2005 days. High supply? That's a buyer's market, with sellers pressed to lower prices and cover closing costs. Economists normally say the point at which supply and demand balance out is around six months.

The chart above, which I put together using Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data, looks at the changing balance of power in the month of September from 1999 onward. It's a simple calculation -- number of homes listed for sale divided by the number of sales in that month. (Some suggest dividing listings by the average number of sales for the past 12 months, to smooth out seasonal gyrations, but since we're comparing September to past Septembers, I figured the newest numbers would be best.)

So, those of you (actively or nominally) in the market for a home: Do you feel as if you've got more power now than you did a year ago? Or are other market forces blowing you off course?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 18, 2010

Less housing 'stress' in Baltimore area, comparatively speaking

Baltimore is less stressed, from a housing perspective, than most metro areas -- or at least that's what a Wall Street Journal analysis suggests. For a truly relaxed region, though, you'll need to move to North Dakota.

The newspaper's Real Time Economics blog put together a stress test that adds three stats for each metro area: the percentage of borrowers spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the share of residents without health insurance and the percentage of people without a job (including retirees and others not working by choice).

By that measure, housing stress in the Baltimore metro area -- the city plus the suburbs -- comes to 76.3. People paying a lot of their income on mortgages were nearly 37 percent of all borrowers last year, 10 percent of residents didn't have health insurance and just over 29 percent weren't working.

That's 16th least-stressed among the 49 largest metro areas, the WSJ says. (Not sure why they featured 49 and not 50 ...) Calculating it for 535 metro areas, which is most of the country, suggests the Baltimore metro area is less stressed than almost 70 percent of the nation.

The country's housing-stress figure is 85.7.

Least stressed: Bismarck, N.D., at 47 -- thanks to low numbers across the board, but particularly on the share of people paying too much for housing (18 percent). Many of the regions on the good end of the ranking are in the Midwest. (Least stressed among large metros: Buffalo, N.Y., at just under 67.)

What stats would you use if you were designing your own housing stress test?

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

October 9, 2010

September: Home sales down 19%

Home sales fell 19 percent in the Baltimore metro area in September, compared with a year earlier -- the third month in a row of declines.

Sept. 30 was the official end of the homebuyer tax credit, the last day to close on a deal. But the real rush happened by June 30, the deadline that Congress extended at the last minute -- which is why sales have dropped since.

Contract-signing is continuing to drop, too -- an early warning signal of what's to come with sales, since it takes a month or two to close on most deals. Buyers signed 25 percent fewer contracts in September than their counterparts a year earlier in the metro area, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

The price stats require real scrutiny. The average is up about 2 percent in the metro area, and much more strongly in some counties. But are sellers actually getting 2 percent more for their homes than people with similar homes got a year ago?

Continue reading "September: Home sales down 19%" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 8, 2010

Home sales -- and homes for sale -- in August(s)

Metropolitan Regional Information Systems expects to release September home sale figures today, so we should all have some new numbers to chew on soon.

In the meantime, here's how the number of homes for sale -- and homes sold -- in the Baltimore metro area has changed over recent Augusts:

 

balt-area-aug-sales.gif

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Categories: Housing stats
        

September 22, 2010

How much are home sellers dropping their prices?

With the ongoing tug-of-war between home buyers and sellers, lots of people are curious to know how much homeowners have to drop their prices to get a contract.

Here's the answer for those in the Baltimore region who sold in August: almost 9 percent on average. (That's the difference between asking $323,000 and getting less than $295,000.)

So says Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the multiple-listing service used to buy and sell homes in this part of the country.

Now, I was under the impression that this list price vs. sales price statistic looked at the last asking price, which means it wouldn't capture any and all of the price drops along the way to the final figure. But I asked  MRIS recently -- you know what They say about assuming -- and learned that the company compares the original and final asking price before using the higher of the two.

In this sort of market, that almost always means the original figure.

What if a home is pulled off the market for, say, three months and put back on at a lower price? Then which figure matters when it sells? That I don't know. (Oh, the questions that occur to me after hours.)

Buyers think some homes are closer to the right price than others, which probably explains why 31 percent of properties were on the market for a month or less while 24 percent sat for four months or more.

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Categories: For sale, Housing stats
        

September 21, 2010

Homeowners more optimistic about their values than agents

Think your home's value rose or at least stayed even in the last year? You have that in common with nearly 40 percent of Marylanders polled by HomeGain.

Less than 25 percent of the Maryland real estate agents the site surveyed, however, said the same of their clients' home values.

Agents surveyed by HomeGain were also more pessimistic about where the market is headed. Forty percent expect prices will fall over the next six months, compared with 28 percent of homeowners. 

Agents have complained pretty much from the start of the housing bust that sellers aren't realistic about their property values, though that doesn't apply to everyone. Some homeowners pick asking prices that get them contracts toot sweet, while others languish on the market for months -- even years -- with no offers.

Continue reading "Homeowners more optimistic about their values than agents" »

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Categories: For sale, Housing stats, Survey says ...
        

September 15, 2010

Price cuts on Baltimore homes for sale: $44 million

Here's a just-reduced sign for Baltimore's housing market: "$44 million off!"

That the collective cut real estate site Trulia calculated on city homes for sale as of Sept. 1. Any home with an asking-price reduction over the past year -- except foreclosures -- added to the grand total.

Baltimore was ninth among large cities for its share of homes with asking-price cuts, at 34 percent. That's par for the course for the city, which has been in the top 10 for a while now.

The average asking-price reduction among Baltimore would-be sellers was 12 percent. Market statistics show that the average homeowner who sells is getting less than he or she was asking for, too. So there are a lot of people out there settling for a significantly lower price than they originally thought they could get.

Continue reading "Price cuts on Baltimore homes for sale: $44 million" »

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Categories: For sale, Housing stats
        

September 14, 2010

As fewer buy homes, more are trying to sell

Falling home sales aren't good news for would-be sellers. When the number of would-be sellers is rising at the same time, that's even worse.

This is the story in the Baltimore area, points out Kenneth Wenhold, Mid-Atlantic regional director for Metrostudy, a homebuilding market researcher. As sales fell 16 percent in August, homes listed for sale rose about 8 percent.

In raw numbers: About 330 fewer homes changed hands compared with a year earlier in the metro area, but 1,550 more homes were for sale. (Grand total on the market in August: 20,200.)

"Baltimore ... is sliding backwards," Wenhold wrote in an analysis of the resale market. "Listings grew throughout the summer, a time when they typically decline. ... All of the positive gains and trends which were established in 2009 are now gone, replaced with negative trend lines which continue to deepen." 

It would take 10.5 months to find buyers for all the homes on the market if sales continue at the average pace of the past year. That average includes a lot of homebuyer-tax-credit months, and most of those credit-fueled deals have already closed.

The D.C. area is -- probably not surprisingly -- better off. 

Continue reading "As fewer buy homes, more are trying to sell" »

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September 11, 2010

August home sales: more tidbits

If you put great stock in average home prices, you probably think August was a good month for Baltimore County sellers and a dreadful one for those in Baltimore City.

The average price jumped almost 6 percent in the county compared with a year earlier and plummeted 25 percent -- from $180,000 to $135,000 -- in the city, according to sales figures from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Of course, you probably don't put great stock in average prices if you're a regular here. We've chatted before about the apples-to-oranges problem that average (and median) presents when you're comparing the homes that sold this year to the potentially very different ones that sold last year.

Average prices have been pulled down in the city by high levels of investors buying lower-priced foreclosures, thus the big drop. (The median price fell even farther in August -- 44 percent.)

Suburban communities not seeing that trend have a different sort of skew factor at work: A lot of first-time buyers were purchasing starter homes a year ago, but odds are pretty good that their numbers slumped after June, which had been the deadline to close on a deal and qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit. (It's been extended to Sept. 30, but everyone who could close by June did.)

Just something to think about.

On another price note: Cindy Ariosa, who manages the Baltimore and southern Pennsylvania region for Long & Foster, says one of her agents represented a buyer who closed on a $6-million-dollar home in Baltimore County last week. Far afield from a starter place.

You can read the August home sale story here.

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September 10, 2010

August home sales in the Baltimore metro area

Home sales dropped 16 percent in the Baltimore metro area last month, compared with a year earlier. That's the second month in a row that buying activity slumped.

It won't be the last, because the number of contracts signed in August -- most of which will show up as sales in a month or two -- was down about the same amount. We've had four straight months of falling contract numbers.

Here's the breaking-news story about August home sales. I'll have a fuller version later.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:48 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

Declines in pending home sales -- and some increases

While we're waiting for August home sale numbers, have one more bite from the July apple.

The number of contracts signed that month, deals that will turn into settlements if all goes well, slumped precipitously in most of Maryland. A dozen counties and Baltimore City saw double-digit declines, including a 38 percent drop in Dorchester (from 34 contracts a year ago to 21 in July) and a 26 percent decrease in Carroll (from 161 a year ago to 119).

Cue the "we told you so" from economists, who predicted that buyers would rush to sign contracts in time to qualify for the federal homebuyer tax credit, leaving sales to drop off afterward.

But buyers in four counties actually picked up the pace in July compared with a year earlier. Here's where:

Continue reading "Declines in pending home sales -- and some increases" »

September 9, 2010

Zillow: 13% of Baltimore-area homes selling at a loss

Thirteen percent of homeowners who sold in the Baltimore metro area in July let the property go for less money than they paid for it, real estate information site Zillow.com says.

The trend peaked in early 2009 with 15 percent of homeowners selling at a loss. But three years ago, the sales-at-a-loss share was less than half as large as it is now.

In the "could be worse" category: 26 percent -- just over a quarter -- of U.S. homeowners sold at a loss in July, according to Zillow.

These figures don't include foreclosures or resales of foreclosed properties, Zillow says. That would obviously increase the loss number quite a bit. (The analysis also doesn't take into account the transaction costs of selling -- just the price the homeowners accepted from the buyer vs. what they paid to the previous seller.)

Zillow doesn't mention short sales one way or another, but I'm guessing that's a big piece of the story. These homes sell for less than the amount due on the mortgage, with bank approval. It's the lender rather than the borrower shouldering the loss, unless the lender decides to seek a deficiency judgment for the difference. (Either way, the borrower leaves with damaged credit, so there is a financial hit involved.)

By Zillow's calculation, some communities are seeing a lot more sales at a loss than others.

Continue reading "Zillow: 13% of Baltimore-area homes selling at a loss" »

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Categories: For sale, Housing market experiences, Housing stats
        

August 26, 2010

Report: housing market 'in the basement'

According to an analysis of the housing market for the Maryland State Builders Association, the national and local situation is -- brace yourself -- lousy.

The report, "Housing Market Remains in the Basement," written by economist Anirban Basu of Sage Policy Group in Baltimore, lays out a variety of the sobering statistics that have made data-watchers anxious. (Here's a PDF of the report.)

Basu writes that "housing construction in Maryland remains mired at or near its cyclical nadir."

"Even after many inducements and one year of economic recovery, home construction activity in Maryland remains a fraction of what it was five years ago," he notes.

He says the outlook is "bleak" in the near term, pointing to big drops in new home sales nationwide, falling housing starts, depressed levels of mortgage applications by buyers and high numbers of foreclosures. But wait -- there's more:

Continue reading "Report: housing market 'in the basement'" »

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August 25, 2010

The market's less obvious effect on home prices

Many things influence home prices. Demand or lack of it. Supply -- too much, too little, just right. Building-material costs. Land values. Zoning rules.

When it comes to price averages, though, it's useful to remember that they can move in mysterious ways that don't necessarily reflect what any actual homeowners are seeing in their own values.

If you've been reading my stories for a while, you've probably seen some variation of my skewing warning: The change in the average price is influenced by the sorts of homes people are buying this year vs. what others bought last year. So if many buyers opt for houses this year but were tending toward smaller condos a year ago, the average will rise even if those houses sold for less than they would have before. (This affects the median price, too.)

Ross Mackesey, a Long & Foster sales manager, wrote commentary on July home sales in the Baltimore region that offers some price-skewing examples.

Why, for instance, did average and median prices rise so strongly in Anne Arundel County last month? The median increased nearly 8 percent, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems; the average jumped about 12 percent. Are BRAC buyers rushing in, declaring, "Money is no object"?

Well, no. He thinks BRAC is supporting that part of the region's housing market a bit, but mainly he sees a shift in buying patterns. The first-time buyer market was "reduced to a trickle" in the absence of the federal tax credit, he writes. But homes priced above $450,000 were "still selling at spring’s pace."

In Baltimore, meanwhile, the average price fell 14 percent last month while the median plummeted 23 percent. Another sort of price-moving factor is at play here:

Continue reading "The market's less obvious effect on home prices" »

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August 14, 2010

A Baltimore housing-market retrospective

I'm all for words, but sometimes charts get the job done better. That's why I put one together that showed at a glance how home sales in the Baltimore metro area have changed since July of last year.

That's recent history, though, and Wonk reader Ronnie was more interested in a longer horizon. So here you go -- July home sales back to '98, as far as Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' dataset goes:

 

JulyHomeSales.jpg

 

Economists expected a slump in or around July because everyone rushing to get the first-time homebuyer tax credit closed by June 30 if they could. (That was the settlement deadline until late that night, when Congress extended it three months to help buyers having trouble with short sales, foreclosures and other more time-consuming deals.)

A key question is whether the drop will be temporary or long-lasting.

Here's what June trends look like over the same years:

Continue reading "A Baltimore housing-market retrospective" »

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August 12, 2010

Baltimore-area home prices vs. the nation

Nearly two-thirds of the metro areas the National Association of Realtors tracks had rising median home prices in the second quarter. The Baltimore metro area? Not among them. But the price drop was minimal -- about half a percent compared with a year earlier, based on sales of single-family homes.

Sellers in Cumberland, tucked in the mountains of Western Maryland, were not so fortunate. The median price dropped 15 percent there, the largest decline in the country.

Cumberland topped the nation in price increases in the early part of the housing bust, so its boom and reversal were both delayed.

Hagerstown also recorded one of the largest drops in the nation, down about 9 percent.

Here are the metro areas that gained and lost the most on median price:

Continue reading "Baltimore-area home prices vs. the nation" »

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August 11, 2010

July home sales in the Baltimore area

HomeSalesChangeJuly10.jpg

 

If you've been wondering what the housing market looks like at a glance, take a gander at the chart above. It shows the year-over-year change in home sales in the Baltimore metro area, and you can really see how the first-time home buyer tax credit influenced buyer activity.

The big swoop upward in October and November came as buyers thought they had to close by Nov. 30, a deadline that was extended to June 30.

That too was extended, though only at the last minute and only for buyers who had signed contracts by April 30 but were still wending their way through the closing process. Result: a July falloff in sales.

In case you're wondering, home sales in the metro area were in decline year-over-year from October 2005 until June 2009, with one little blip upward in January 2007. So the pickup in the middle of 2009 does seem tax-credit driven.

Interested in a closer look at July? Check out my home-sales story.

Wonk reader Frank Rizzo was curious to know how sales looked from a month-to-month perspective, rather than year-over-year. Here's that chart, which like the one above relies on Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data:

Continue reading "July home sales in the Baltimore area" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: First-time buyer tax credit, Housing stats
        

August 9, 2010

Baltimore-area home values

So yeah, I know I inundated you with housing-market statistics this weekend, but hey -- what's a few more?

Zillow.com released new figures today that attempt to measure all home values in the spring, not just the prices of properties that sold. (That's different than my analysis, which relied on sales figures.) Here's some of what the real estate search site says about the Baltimore area:

1) Prices fell 5 percent compared with a year ago in the metro area overall ...

2) ... but that varied a lot, from a 7.5 percent increase in Stevensville (Queen Anne's County) to a 15.5 percent drop in Jessup (Howard and Anne Arundel counties).

3) Twelve communities had rising home values compared with a year earlier ...

4) ... but not all homes there were worth more at the end of the second quarter, just as not all homes in the fastest-declining places were worth less, Zillow says.

Zillow bases these conclusions off its "Zestimates" of home values, which have drawn criticism from various fronts (including from some of you). If you're in the anti-Zestimate camp, enjoy these sales-only stats from Zillow's report:

Continue reading "Baltimore-area home values" »

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August 8, 2010

The Baltimore-area housing market in 2010

ForSaleLam.jpg

Photo by Sun photographer Kenneth K. Lam

 

Want to see what the housing market in the Baltimore metro area looks like down to the city neighborhoods and suburban communities?

You're in luck. Words, maps, photos and databases -- take your pick:

--Read about the trends I saw when I crunched all the January-through-June home sales.

--Check out these nifty interactive maps of the region: prices here, sales figures here. Three cheers to Alex Tribou on the Sun's graphics team for tackling this time-consuming effort.

--Enjoy the photo galleries of housing-market extremes. Priciest places here. Other top 10s, including most sales and biggest price drops, here. Huzzahs to editor Liz Hacken for turning the data into a visual tour of the region.

--See all the price and sales data in ZIP codes and city neighborhoods that interest you. Here's the searchable database for ZIP codes, and here's the database for city neighborhoods. (Areas had to have at least five sales in the first half of this year and the first half of last year to be included in the analysis, and thus the databases.) Applause to web guru Lauren Custer for creating the databases.

Hope you find it all informative and interesting.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 1:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing market experiences, Housing stats
        

August 6, 2010

Priciest places in the Baltimore area

InnerHarbor.jpg

Photo by Sun photographer Barbara Haddock Taylor

 

Where did homebuyers spend the most, on average, in the Baltimore area during the first half of this year?

You probably have certain city neighborhoods and suburban communities in mind when you think "upscale." But there's always a surprise or two when we comb through the sales figures.

Here's the list. Drumroll, please:

Continue reading "Priciest places in the Baltimore area" »

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August 5, 2010

From housing boom to bust: What's happened to prices

In the last three years, single-family home prices have fallen 18 percent in the Baltimore metro area, according to Fiserv. A lot better than some places, from a seller's perspective. A lot worse than others.

Ninety metro areas saw bigger price drops than we did. Topping that list is Merced, Calif., where prices fell 64 percent -- yes, more than HALF -- between the first quarter of 2007 and 2010. Detroit is second, at 58 percent.

Just over 290 metro areas, on the other hand, had smaller price drops -- or no drops at all. Five metro areas, four of them in Texas, are up more than 10 percent vs. 2007.

Fiserv, which puts the Case-Shiller indexes together with Standard & Poor's, compares repeat sales of the same homes to try to get at the true change in housing values.

But a metro-wide average will inevitably hide swings one direction or another in individual communities. Do you live in a neighborhood where prices are down significantly more -- or less -- than 18 percent since 2007?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (15)
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August 4, 2010

Where homebuyers are paying what sellers are asking

Home sellers in Windsor Mill, North Beach and Laurel are either good at setting their asking prices, or buyers are eager to live there.

The average sale prices in all three Baltimore-area communities were less than 1 percent below average sellers' original listing prices, according to real estate brokerage ZipRealty's second-quarter "hot" and "cold" ZIP code report.

Across the metro area in June, by contrast, average sellers got about 8 percent less than their asking prices, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Here's ZipRealty's full hot-and-cold list:

Continue reading "Where homebuyers are paying what sellers are asking" »

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July 29, 2010

Condos vs. townhomes vs. houses

What's easier to sell these days -- a condo, a townhome or a detached house?

The cheaper something is, the bigger the pool of potential buyers, and usually condos are less expensive than townhouses, which are in turn less pricey than houses. (Not always, of course. The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Baltimore is a condo development. But you know what I mean.)

Price, though, isn't the only consideration. Think supply vs. actual demand. And on that count, houses seem to be winning, if only slightly.

About 1,300 detached homes changes hands in the Baltimore metro area last month, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. At that pace, it would take almost seven and a half months to sell the more than 10,000 on the market.

Townhouses? Just over seven and a half months, with 680 sales vs. 5,167 for-sales.

MRIS throws condos into a category along with coops and units with ground rent (often rowhouses). Homes on the market in that group would take more than eight months to sell at their current pace, with 556 sales vs. 4,616 for-sales.

The multiple-listing service also offers a peek at price trends:

Continue reading "Condos vs. townhomes vs. houses" »

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July 23, 2010

Homeowners with no regrets, and other notable numbers

Do you homeowners out there regret buying? Nine percent of Americans surveyed on behalf of Bankrate.com recently say yes. Bankrate.com's Greg McBride finds it "surprising -- and reassuring" in these difficult times that 90 percent said no.

Many of the folks who do have buyer's remorse are having trouble selling or making their mortgage payments.

I thought you'd be interested. These other news nuggets caught my eye, too:

Who sells more homes, builders or banks? Banks, says housing research firm Hanley Wood Market Intelligence. That's been true for the last year and a half.

Whither (or rather wither) homeownership: John Burns Real Estate Consulting is predicting that the homeownership rate, which peaked at 69 percent during the bubble years and has since slid to 67 percent, will fall to 62 percent in the next two years as struggling borrowers succumb to foreclosure. The company says it's not optimistic about loan modifications "primarily because so many of these consumers have too much additional debt."

Which brings us back, full circle, to the regretful buyers.

Are you happy with your home? Are you glad you bought it, if you're not renting? How much do factors such as home prices affect your enjoyment of your property -- if at all?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
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July 14, 2010

Asking price reductions on Baltimore homes

The number of price-reduced homes for sale increased in many large cities over the last month, with no $8,000 tax credit to lure buyers. But Baltimore? Here, the share of places with asking-price cuts dropped.

Not enough to kick the city out of the top 10, though, where it's been for many months.

So says real estate search engine Trulia, which tracks price-reduction trends.

Last August, 32 percent homes for sale in Baltimore had asking prices that were lower than their starting point, one of the largest shares among large cities. In January? Almost 30 percent. It was the same story at the beginning of April, the last month to sign a contract and qualify for the first-time buyer tax credit.

The share of price-reduced homes in Baltimore rose to 35 percent May 1, where it stayed over the next month. But at the beginning of this month, it had inched downward to 34 percent.

That decrease goes against the grain. Trulia said nearly half of the top 50 cities have price-reduction levels at 30 percent or more, compared with 10 at the beginning of June.

"We’re seeing more and more sellers reduce their home listing prices to attract potential buyers, who definitely have the upper hand in negotiations this season," Pete Flint, Trulia's CEO, said in a statement. "The slow start to the summer season is a major concern that we are heading towards a double-dip in the second half of this year."

Here's how the city ranks among the country's 50 largest cities, along with the average cut from the original asking price, according to Trulia:

Continue reading "Asking price reductions on Baltimore homes" »

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July 10, 2010

June home sales: Good news, bad news

Sellers waiting for some sign of housing-market recovery might be excused for cheering at the news Friday that sale prices in the Baltimore metro area were up 5 percent in June. Five percent! The biggest year-over-year jump since '07!

But hang on, folks. If ever a month should be slapped with the "past performance does not guarantee future results" label, June was it.

Until a last-minute act of Congress extended the deadline, June was the final month to close on a sale and still qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit worth up to $8,000. Economists figure the price pop here and in other parts of the country is more one-off than trend.

More in today's housing-market story.

Contracts -- pending sales -- give us a glimpse at the near future. The deadline for signing a contract came and went April 30, and in May, new deals were down more than 30 percent from a year earlier. June's year-over-year drop in newly signed contracts was a still sizable but less steep 17 percent.

On the upside: About 430 more buyers signed contracts in June than in May. Of course, the bar wasn't set high. With so many buyers incentivized to sign by April 30, May activity was low -- 2,110 fewer contracts than the month before. May: about 1,840 new pending deals. April: about 3,950.

A few more notable numbers from June, as reported by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems:

Continue reading "June home sales: Good news, bad news" »

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July 8, 2010

Home prices rising in many markets, but not Balt. area

A real estate data firm says home prices rose in all major metro areas in the last four months save for two places -- one of which is Baltimore.

Prices in the Baltimore metro area dropped 1.8 percent in the March through June period, compared with the previous three months, according to the California-based Clear Capital. The only other large market it recorded price declines in was Bridgeport, Conn., down 2.5 percent.

Our region has been on Clear Capital's "lowest performing major markets" list for a while. It was sixth in the last report.

Among the gainers were 10 metro areas with double-digit increases -- yes, just compared with the previous three months. Memphis was No. 1 with a nearly 21 percent jump.

Our cousin to the south, the Washington metro area, was up 7 percent, the 14th largest increase.

Want to guess why so many regions showed price gains?

Continue reading "Home prices rising in many markets, but not Balt. area" »

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July 2, 2010

Drop in pending home sales: Baltimore vs. U.S.

File this under "d" for "duh" -- buyers across the country reacted to the lack of $8,000 federal tax credits for home sales in May by signing fewer contracts. Not exactly a stunning development. But the new figures do allow us to compare and contrast: us vs. U.S.

Nationally, pending sales fell about 16 percent vs. a year earlier, when the first-time home buyer tax credit was in effect. In the Baltimore metro area, the drop was 32 percent -- twice as steep.

It's a similar story comparing May to April, when buyers were rushing to beat the contract-signing deadline. The national decrease was 33 percent. Ours: 53 percent. (For the wonks out there: These numbers are not seasonally adjusted. Also, no statistics were harmed in the calculation of these figures.)

The question that only time will answer, but about which housing-market watchers are happy to put in their two cents now, is whether the contract slump is temporary. If people bought homes in April rather than May or June, then you'd expect to see more activity in July. But if people bought homes in April rather than the rest of the year and 2011 besides ...

Add the uncertain economy, mix in foreclosures, and you have a hard-to-predict brew.

So here's my question to you (OK, questions): What are you seeing out there? Is it easier to negotiate down asking prices? What competition are you buyers seeing, if any? Are you sellers getting showings?

What does the market feel like compared with April?

June 21, 2010

The homebuyer pullback in May

Only time will tell whether the drop-off in buyers signing contracts for home purchases in May -- the month after the contract-signing deadline expired for the home buyer tax credit -- is merely temporary. But here's a currently available fact: That pullback is pretty widespread hereabouts.

All but four counties in Maryland saw the number of newly pending contracts decline in May, compared with a year earlier. Year-over-year contract figures were significantly up for much of the tax-credit period.

Biggest drop: 54 percent in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. That's according to data collected by the Maryland Association of Realtors from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems and the Coastal Association of Realtors.

Baltimore County had the largest decrease in the Baltimore area -- 39 percent. Next were Anne Arundel and Howard, both down 30 percent; Baltimore City, down 29 percent; and Carroll County, down 28 percent. Harford County, down 23 percent, had the smallest drop.

So which parts of Maryland actually saw more contract-signing activity in May than a year earlier? See if you can guess, then read on for the answer.

Continue reading "The homebuyer pullback in May" »

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June 16, 2010

Harvard's housing snapshot

Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies paints a less-than-rosy picture of the market in its newest State of the Nation's Housing report, out this week.

For instance:

One of the biggest drags on the housing market is the high joblessness rate. ... Unfortunately, most economists predict that the unemployment rate will remain elevated as discouraged workers reenter the labor force amid slow gains in jobs.
The overhang of vacant units for rent, for sale, or held off the market (including foreclosed homes) is another serious concern. Despite production cuts of more than 70 percent since 2005, the overall vacancy rate hit a record in 2009. In addition, many current owners are effectively trapped in homes that are worth less than the amount owed on their mortgages. If these distressed owners want or need to sell, their only choices are to walk away from their homes or write a check at the closing table. This will inhibit a recovery in repeat home sales.

Oh, is that all?

No, actually.

The Harvard folks note that even the Treasury Department expects 40 percent of people getting loan modifications through the federal Home Affordable Modification Program will re-default. And once number-crunching is complete, typical U.S. household incomes will "almost certainly" prove to be lower at the end of 2009 than they were at the beginning of the decade, accounting for inflation. And mortgage debt "has never been higher relative to home equity."

The report also notes a problematic trend in the rental market:

Continue reading "Harvard's housing snapshot" »

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Categories: Housing stats, Renting
        

June 15, 2010

As home prices begin to rise elsewhere, Balt. area still declining

Home prices were up in 40 percent of the nation's metro areas at the end of last year, compared with a year earlier, but Baltimore was not among them.

That's according to Fiserv, the company whose data is the basis of the popular Case-Shiller index. It shows prices in the Baltimore metro area declining 3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009.

But because Fiserv is forecasting a temporary return to falling prices in some of the rising markets, and big drops in regions already hard-hit by the bust, it thinks the nation as a whole will take a bigger cut on price than the Baltimore area in the near term. The company is predicting a 1.8 percent drop in prices over the 12 months ending in the fourth quarter of this year in the Baltimore metro area, compared with a 3.1 percent drop nationwide.

On the one hand, says Fiserv Chief Economist David Stiff, more consumers "have confidence that buying a home doesn't mean catching a falling knife." On the other: "The first-time homebuyer tax credit has expired, the Federal Reserve has stopped buying residential mortgage backed securities (MBS) and the projected number of foreclosures remains extremely high."

Homeowners in our metro area haven't felt the housing crash as keenly as wide swaths of Florida, California and other big-population states in the eye of the storm. You probably knew this already -- it's been the story since the slump was a mild little infant rather than a rampaging toddler -- but here's a comparison to put that in perspective:

Continue reading "As home prices begin to rise elsewhere, Balt. area still declining" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Housing forecasts, Housing stats
        

June 14, 2010

The housing market above and below the jumbo line

The cheaper something is, the wider the potential buying pool -- there's a blindingly obvious statement to start off your Monday. This is by way of introducing a statistical glimpse of the Baltimore-area housing market above and below the jumbo-loan mark of $560,000.

So yeah, of course it's easier to sell below that line than above it, not even getting into issues of financing. Of course it would take more months to find buyers for the pricier range, at the current pace of sales, than the less-pricey one.

But here's how much easier, according to an analysis of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors:

Below that line, nine months.

Above? Twenty-three months.

Six months of supply, in case you're wondering, is usually considered the magical "balanced market" figure where neither buyers nor sellers have the upper hand.

Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III, executive vice president of the Realtors board, looked at all listings as of June 2. He calculated the months of supply by dividing homes for sale by the average pace of sales in the first five months of the year.

Which Baltimore-area jurisdiction do you think is the toughest sell above $560,000? Below?

See if your guess is right:

Continue reading "The housing market above and below the jumbo line" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

June 11, 2010

53% drop in new contracts from April to May

If you're a housing-market watcher, you were bound to be curious how the end of the first-time home buyer tax credit would play out. We'll have to wait longer for the bottom-line result, but the immediate effect is a wallop.

Buyers signed 53 percent fewer contracts for Baltimore-area home purchases in May than they did in April, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. The year-over-year decline -- the way we normally compare -- was more than 30 percent.

Read more about it in today's story. (And see what Richard J. DeKaser, a housing-market researcher who once put the Baltimore metro area on an overpriced-markets list, thinks of values now.)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

June 9, 2010

The housing market by the numbers

Sometimes a number is worth a thousand words. Here are a few that have caught my eye recently:

4.2 percent: The decline in home values in the Baltimore metro area in April, compared with a year earlier, according to Zillow's newest estimates

18 percent: Zillow's estimate for the decline in Baltimore-area values since the market peak, compared with 24 percent nationwide

23 percent: The share of Americans polled on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling who say it's justifiable to default on a mortgage if the balance due is higher than the home's value

15 percent: The share of Americans who said in the same poll that it's never justifiable to default on a mortgage, no matter what the reason

5.3 million: The number of U.S. homes owned by "sidelined sellers" who would be very likely to put their properties on the market in the next 12 months if they see signs of improvement, according to Zillow

27 percent: Share of homes for sale in Baltimore that are foreclosures, according to CoreLogic via Yahoo Real Estate

Sixth: The Baltimore metro area's ranking on the "lowest performing major markets" list compiled by data provider Clear Capital, based on recent home price drops 

What numbers have caught your attention?

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

May 25, 2010

Foreclosures and short sales in the Baltimore market

Four out of every 10 homes sold in Baltimore City during the first four months of the year were distress deals -- foreclosures or short sales.

That's a lot of distress working its way through the housing market.

The numbers come from an analysis of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, a slice of which appeared in my mortgage delinquency story last week. I thought you might be interested to see more of these stats.

Foreclosures were significantly more popular among buyers than short sales, which isn't surprising given the uncertainty about how long banks will take to respond to short-sale offers. (The "short" in "short sale" refers to selling for less than the mortgage balance, not a nod to the time involved.) Across the Baltimore metro area, 23 percent of homes sold in the first four months of the year were foreclosures, compared with short sales at 8 percent.

It's an even bigger difference in the city. Foreclosures accounted for 35 percent of sales; short sales were 6 percent. (I'm assuming that interest in city foreclosures as real estate investments is driving those numbers.)

Here's a really interesting finding:

Continue reading "Foreclosures and short sales in the Baltimore market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Housing stats, The foreclosure mess
        

May 21, 2010

Priciest suburban Baltimore places to live

Highland.jpg

Baltimore Sun file photo

 

Some weeks back, we presented the most expensive city neighborhoods -- as ranked by 2009 home sale price -- for your edification and pontification. Left out of the fun were the Baltimore 'burbs, which are of course more pricey in general.

So let's remedy that. Right now.

Can you guess the suburban community (as in ZIP code) with the highest average sale price last year? (For that matter, can you guess No. 7, which is pictured above?)

Read on for answers and a link to the brand-new photo gallery, put together by editor extraordinaire Liz Hacken.

Continue reading "Priciest suburban Baltimore places to live" »

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

May 15, 2010

What home sellers wanted, and what they got

A few numbers that caught my interest when I took another look at the April home sale statistics from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which tracks the Baltimore metro area:

--Average sellers got close to 92 percent of their asking price, up from 89 percent a year earlier. The increase is partly because sale prices rose slightly, and partly because sellers this year asked for a bit less.

--The dollar difference between what sellers asked for on average and what they got? $25,000.

--The average asking price vs. sales price varied a lot across the region. Baltimore City had the lowest percentage (average sellers got 88 percent of their asking price in April) and Howard County had the highest (94 percent), closely followed by Carroll (93 percent).

--The average home in the metro area that sold in April was on the market for two weeks less than the average home selling in April 2009. But it still worked out to more than three-and-a-half months waiting for a buyer.

--A third of homes that sold went in 30 days or less.

--Another third of homes were on the market more than 120 days before selling.

Any stats out there catch your eye?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

May 12, 2010

More price reductions on Baltimore homes

More than one-third of Baltimore homes for sale have had at least one asking-price reduction over the past year, putting the city behind only Minneapolis and Milwaukee for the share of sellers decreasing their expectations, real estate search site Trulia.com says.

Trulia, looking at the market on May 1, found that 35 percent of the Baltimore homes for sale were not priced as high as they had been earlier. That's up from 29 percent on April 1, which could reflect last-minute cuts in hopes of interesting a buyer before the $8,000 and $6,500 home buyer tax credits expired April 30.

Baltimore's month-over-month increase in asking-price decreases -- ya follow? -- was ninth-largest in the country, Trulia said. The company ranked the 50 most populous cities and did not include foreclosures.

Continue reading "More price reductions on Baltimore homes" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

May 11, 2010

Home prices plummet in Western Maryland

You'd expect to see Orlando and Las Vegas on a list of metro areas with the biggest price decreases in the last year. But Cumberland and Hagerstown?

Both Western Maryland metros had double-digit decreases in the median sale price of single-family homes during the first three months of the year, compared with a year earlier.

Here's how they rank among the 10 metro areas with the biggest drops, according to newly released data by the National Association of Realtors:

Continue reading "Home prices plummet in Western Maryland" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:50 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

April home sales in the Baltimore area

Home sales up -- and prices too. That's something rarely seen in the same month in the Baltimore metro area for the past, oh, four years, and it happened in April as buyers rushed to get both feet in the door before the home buyer tax credit expired.

You know how investment firms warn that "past performance is no guarantee of future results"? The April housing market is that times 10, because you can't expect things to look the same on either side of a deadline for up to $8,000 in cash from Uncle Sam.

But it was certainly an interesting month. A few stats from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems:

Home sales in the metro area jumped 35 percent from a year ago.

Newly signed contracts -- future sales, if they close as planned -- ratcheted up about 50 percent.

Average sale prices inched up not quite 1 percent in the region, ranging from a 2 percent drop in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties to double-digit increases in Baltimore City and Carroll County.

Newly listed homes for sale in April topped 6,000, the most since the spring months of 2007 -- a sign that buyers weren't the only ones motivated by the deadline.

Read more in today's story, which includes a home builder with an interesting week after the deadline and a seller with unfortunate timing. (Bought a rowhouse to rehab, put it on the market in 2007 -- still waiting.)

May 7, 2010

Real estate extremes in the Baltimore area

CantonRowhomesHairston.JPG

Photograph of Canton rowhomes by Sun photographer Kim Hairston

 

Lots of people bought a home in Baltimore's 21224 ZIP code last year. More than any other ZIP code in the whole region, in fact.

That's one of the housing-market extremes of 2009, and I thought those of you who enjoy top 10 lists would get a kick out of that sort of thing. So I crunched the numbers and editor Liz Hacken put them together in a photo gallery for your amusement and possible edification.

You'll find all the housing-market top 10s here.

The list has ZIP code extremes and city-neighborhood extremes -- biggest average price increases, biggest drops and largest changes in sales either direction. And, of course, the sales hot spots as measured by total activity.

In the city, the neighborhood with the most home sales last year was Canton -- not coincidentally in the 21224 ZIP code. More than 820 homes changed hands in the ZIP last year, almost 350 of which were in Canton.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

May 6, 2010

More homes for sale in the Baltimore region

If putting your home on the market is a sign of optimism, however so small, then more sellers are doing some positive thinking. The number of homes for sale in the Baltimore metro area jumped 10 percent between February and March.

That's the biggest springtime increase since 2006, and it comes even as more homes were newly off the market thanks to buyer activity, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data.

No doubt some of those new sellers in March were hoping to ride the home buyer tax credit wave. (Even some of the sellers who hit the market in April, for that matter. The deadline to sign a contract and qualify for the credit was April 30.)

The inventory of homes for sale in the region has been mostly on the downswing since the fall of 2008, at least compared year-over-year -- a trend that began with sellers giving up, not buyers stepping up. Buying began to increase last year.

The for-sale inventory was down in March from a year earlier, too, even with the bump-up from February. But just 2 percent, which is the smallest year-over-year drop in months.

We'll get a look at April when those stats are released next week.

Do you feel like you have more options now, buyers?

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

April 21, 2010

Price reductions (and increases) on Baltimore homes for sale

Almost 30 percent of homes for sale in Baltimore have had at least one asking-price reduction, according to real estate search engine Trulia. That's more than all but five of the 50 largest cities.

Devoted readers will recall that this is more of the same -- we've been in the top 10 for a while. (Here's a post from February, for instance.)

You've had a lot to say about asking prices. Wonk reader M commented: "I think most homeowners think their homes are worth more than they are and they waste valuable time/money with their homes just sitting there."

But here's a new question: Why do you think Baltimore is high up on the list for homes with reductions?

Are sellers here more out of touch? Are Baltimore buyers more apt to play the waiting game than to make a low offer right off the bat?

On a related note, I checked out HousingTracker.net to see how asking prices in the Baltimore metro area have changed lately, and lo and behold -- they're up.

The median asking price, which has been falling pretty consistently for months, bottomed at $239,925 in January, inched up in February, rose $4,000 in March and is now sitting at just under $250,000.

So if you're getting the impression that prices are rising -- asking prices, anyway -- that's why. (We'll just have to wait and see how many of the new listings will end up with "just reduced!" signs down the road.)

I can think of a few reasons why asking prices might have risen in the last few months. Perhaps more bigger, pricier homes hit the market. Or perhaps sellers are hoping that buyers rushing to qualify for the first-time home buyer credit won't be as picky about price. Or, hey, perhaps sellers are confident that the market is rebounding.

Thoughts?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Housing stats
        

April 16, 2010

Real estate poll: Buyers (and sellers) in the wings

Economists and real estate agents often muse about "pent-up demand" -- the number of people who would have bought a home already if not for economic conditions. A new survey by real estate search site operator Move Inc. suggests there's a lot of people in that group, but it's not just buying they have in mind.

Nearly half of homeowners surveyed said they'd buy another home right away if they could sell the property they have for at least as much as they paid for it. A lot of Americans are underwater on their mortgages, so there's definitely some "if only" among those surveyed owners.

Fewer people -- 21 percent of those surveyed, current owners or not -- said they actually plan to buy within the next five years. Many with near-term plans are first-timers.

Other interesting results from the survey:

A year ago, less than 6 percent of potential buyers told Move that they intended to snap up a home for investment purposes soon. Now, it's 17 percent. (About one in eight of those intending to buy investment property have the war chest to pay entirely with cash.)

And, Move says, "Just over two-thirds (69.1%) of homeowners who have delayed selling their home reduced their daily living expenses in order to pay their mortgage."

Does reading about a survey fill you with envy that you weren't asked to participate? Here -- try this one:

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

April 10, 2010

Baltimore-area housing market in March

You can check out today's story about how home sales and prices fared in the Baltimore metro area last month, or you can chew on these stats -- or, better yet, both:

4 percent: The drop in average sale prices between March 2009 and March 2010

17 percent: The increase in the number of homes sold, year over year

1,808: Homes sold last month

3,648: Homes sold in March 2005, pre-bust

39 percent: The increase in the number of contracts signed, year over year 

                     Also the share of homes in Baltimore City bought entirely with cash

12 percent: The all-cash share in the 'burbs

4/30: The deadline to sign a contract to qualify for the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit or the $6,500 repeat-buyer credit

Here's where to find more data from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. What numbers interest you?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

April 8, 2010

Baltimore-area rental and condo market in early '10

New condos have taken it on the chin in this housing market, but first-quarter sales in the Baltimore metro area were the highest in three years, according to real estate information firm Delta Associates. (There were 119 "net" deals, which accounts for contracts that fell through.)

About 1,700 new condos are ready for occupancy or under construction, so Delta doesn't expect "price traction" until next year at the earliest. Asking prices were down 4.2 percent from a year earlier.

On the up side, the inventory was nearly 2,700 a year ago. Big drop since then.

Here's one vote of confidence that the condo market is turning around: The developers of a 252-unit project planned in Anne Arundel County have switched it from apartments to condos. (A lot of projects have gone the other way since the bubble popped.)

The recession is still weighing on the apartment market. Class-A rental vacancy rates in the metro area bumped upward in the first quarter to 5.6 percent, though Delta says that's a lot better than the national rate of 8.2 percent.

Rents rose 1.6 percent in the Baltimore suburbs vs. a year ago but fell 4.8 percent in the neighborhoods where city apartment complexes are clustered -- downtown, Fells Point and the Inner Harbor.

That's the snapshot Delta is offering. Personal experiences gladly accepted in the comments.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

April 6, 2010

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?

Continue reading "Fewer homes for sale" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 20, 2010

Realtors' take on Md. home prices

We can be pretty certain that a lot of home buyers and sellers don't see eye to eye on values, or else the average sale price wouldn't be 11 percent lower than the asking price. But where do real estate agents stand in the debate?

Well, 85 percent polled in Maryland say sellers think their homes are worth more than they -- the agents -- believe it is, according to a new survey by real estate site HomeGain.

Most of that difference is pretty big.

Half the Maryland agents surveyed say their average clients think their homes are worth 10 to 20 percent more. Eleven percent say average clients think their homes are worth in excess of 20 percent more.

The Maryland agents say their average buyers are actually less critical. Sixty-seven percent of their buyers think homes are overpriced, with a big chunk of the opinion that prices are no more than 9 percent too high.

Perhaps that's because the agents report that they're talking sellers down from their price expectations -- somewhat. About half say the average difference between the ultimate asking price and what sellers wanted to ask is no more than 10 percent.

(The Maryland agents were polled as part of a national survey of 1,400 Realtors. About three dozen were from our state.)

The push-and-pull on price is probably a perennial one, but it's been especially potent in the post-bubble days.

Buyers, how close does a home's asking price need to be to your opinion of its worth to make you willing to negotiate?

Sellers, what are you doing to ensure that your asking price will interest buyers?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 17, 2010

The home price in the middle

Last month, half the people who bought homes in Maryland paid less than $237,000 and half paid more. That's the median sale price -- and it's 23 percent less than the peak in 2007.

That's a $70,000 drop, for those of you who prefer dollars to percents.

Like most reporters, I'm in the habit of comparing year over year, but it's useful to take the longer view. Or painful, if you happen to have bought around the peak.

Maryland home sales are well below the peak as well: about 2,800 last month vs. 6,000 (!) in February 2005. (Sales were 20 percent above the Feb. '09 trough, at least.)

But back to price:

Continue reading "The home price in the middle" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 11, 2010

Baltimore home sales in February

Home sales up. Prices down. Newly signed contracts up, but not as big a year-over-year jump as we've been seeing -- thanks, blizzards.

Those are the housing-market basics for the Baltimore metro area last month. If you want more details along those lines, check out today's home sales story. Rather than retreading the same ground here, I thought I'd share a few other interesting stats:

25: Percentage of metro area homes that sold in 30 days or less.

33: Percentage that sold in 121 days or more.

38: Percentage of homes financed with loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. (Long gone are the days when no one went FHA.)

20: Percentage of homes paid for entirely with cash. (Investors, usually.)

1,177: Homes that sold in the metro area last month, up nearly 10 percent from a year earlier.

1,757: Homes that sold in the metro area in February 2000, just to put things in perspective.

207: Homes that sold for $200,000 to $249,999 last month, the most popular price range.

114: Homes that sold for $500,000 or more. (Yes -- not that much more than half what sold in the low to mid $200s.)

10: Months it would take to find buyers for all the homes listed for $200,000 to $249,999 at February's pace of sales.

23: Months it would take for all the homes listed for $500,000-plus.

And finally, 56: Homes that sold for less than $30,000. Many, presumably, to those investors paying cash.

As always, the numbers come from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. If you see other numbers there that fascinate you, do share.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 8, 2010

Most expensive Baltimore neighborhoods

HomelandLam.jpg

Baltimore Sun photographer Kenneth K. Lam

 

Know the Baltimore neighborhood pictured above? It's the most expensive in the city, as measured by 2009 average sale prices.

Which is it? Can you guess?

Read on for the answer, along with the rest of the city's priciest neighborhoods in '09.

Continue reading "Most expensive Baltimore neighborhoods" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 7, 2010

The Baltimore-area housing market in living color

It takes a lot of number-crunching to show you the housing market by ZIP code and city neighborhood, but somebody's got to do it.

Today's story gives you the bird's eye view of the trends -- last year and still developing -- and comes with lots of cool extras for people who like to check things out for themselves.

Colorful maps, for instance, thanks to Sun cartographer Chris Schoenberg. Maps showing the change in average price last year in the region's ZIP codes and the city's neighborhoods, since ZIP codes in the city hide a lot of variation. Maps showing the change in the region and city, too. Even some maps from earlier times. (Give Chris three cheers, because without her cartographic skills, we couldn't sort city sales into their  neighborhoods and would have to make do with ZIP codes only.)

There's also a keen searchable database, put together by the inestimable Lauren Custer, which lets you look up the stats on all ZIP codes with at least five home sales in 2008 and 2009.

More interested in city neighborhood stats? Find an Excel file with sales by neighborhood here.

Did you buy or sell in 2009? How did it go?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 1:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Housing stats
        

March 4, 2010

Baltimore still on firm's 'lowest performing' list

As a number of metro areas post home-price gains, the Baltimore market is still declining, a real estate data firm says in a new report.

Prices were down 3.4 percent vs. a year ago and 1.8 percent compared with the previous quarter, Clear Capital said.  The quarter-over-quarter drop ranks our metro area among the "lowest performing major markets" -- 13th. (No. 1 on that list is Columbus, with a 10.5 percent quarter-over-quarter decline. Ouch.)

The biggest gainer was Providence, R.I., up more than 6 percent quarter over quarter. But the gainers and decliners averaged out for the nation as a whole, which posted flat prices, Clear Capital said.

This isn't the first time we've been on the big-decline list. The upside -- if you're a homeowner -- is that the year-over-year price drop isn't as large now as it was at the end of last year.

Continue reading "Baltimore still on firm's 'lowest performing' list" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 26, 2010

Zillow's home-value estimates criticized

You've probably checked out Zillow.com's "Zestimates" at some point -- those free estimates of a home's value -- so you might have given some thought to how accurate they are. That's the subject of much debate, actually.

The latest volley comes from professors Daniel R. Hollas, Ronald C. Rutherford and Thomas A. Thomson, arguing in The Appraisal Journal that they're really Overzestimates:

The results indicate that Zillow overestimates value for approximately 80% of the houses in the sample by at least 1%. ... The average overestimation is 11.66% or $13,576, with a median of $9,717 or 7.92%. Zillow’s magnitude of overestimation is marginally higher than the value overestimation by recent homebuyers reported in the literature.

The authors -- from the University of Texas at San Antonio -- pitted Zestimates vs. 2006 sale prices of about 2,000 houses in Arlington, Texas. "Zillow indicates that this market is one where its data has its highest accuracy rating," they wrote, adding later: "The likelihood is that in [a] more ... volatile market with a lower accuracy rating Zillow would misprice at a higher rate and larger amount."

Zillow roared back with a response:

Continue reading "Zillow's home-value estimates criticized" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 16, 2010

Baltimore real estate asking-price reductions

Real estate search engine Trulia, which tracks how many homes listed for sale have had at least one price reduction, said this morning that Baltimore continues to have a high share. Higher, in fact, than all but four other big cities.

Thirty-one percent of listings in Baltimore are on the market for less than their original asking price.

Average price reduction: 12 percent. On a $300,000 house, that's a $36,000 cut.

A separate site, HousingTracker.net, has shown a fairly steady drop in typical asking prices in the Baltimore metro area. It's just below $240,000 this month, compared with $265,000 a year earlier. (That's an almost 10 percent decline, in case you haven't already reached your stat limit this morning.)

Does "reduced!" on a for-sale sign in a yard catch your interest? Or do you assume that the home is "reduced!" because it was priced too high to begin with and probably still is?

Take the poll:

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:01 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 11, 2010

January home sales in the Baltimore area

Remember the housing market? While we were all buried under snow on Wednesday, January sale statistics came out. Really and for true!

More homes were sold in January than a year earlier in the Baltimore metro area, the eighth straight month of year-over-year increases. Also up: average prices, by about 2 percent.

It's the first time in three years that both indicators rose in tandem, but don't break out the champagne yet, home sellers. The median price -- the midpoint -- was down 2 percent.

You could split the difference and call it flat. Or you could shrug and figure that neither the average nor the median is a guaranteed snapshot of typical sellers' experiences. (The trouble is, the types of homes selling in one month might be different enough from the homes selling in another to skew comparisons.)

The city was alone in seeing a drop in average price -- a whopping 18 percent drop. I took a closer look to see what might be going on and found two trends: Fewer homes selling for $300,000 and up. More homes selling for under $100,000.

It looks like investor buying is playing a role. Last month, 42 percent of the city's home sales were all-cash deals, up from 32 percent a year earlier. But perhaps it's also more first-time home buyers. (Uncle Sam says you have to sign a contract by the end of April and settle by the end of June to qualify for the $8,000.)

The full January home sale story is here.

Want the original numbers? Go here, to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats page.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

February 5, 2010

The Baltimore housing market, in three charts

Everyone talks about the thousand-word worth of pictures, but what about graphs? That and more, I say. I could chatter on about how the regional housing market fared in the last decade or so, or I could show you three charts that would give you a pretty good idea.

Prices. Number of homes sold. Number of homes on the market for sale.

The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors just so happens to have those charts on hand. Here they are, for your enjoyment or dismay.

Median prices:

MedianPrices9809.jpg

Continue reading "The Baltimore housing market, in three charts" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 29, 2010

Metrostudy: Baltimore housing market 'tightening up'

Metrostudy, which analyzes the housing market for builders and others in the real estate industry, thinks things are looking better in the Baltimore area. Kenneth Wenhold, director of Metrostudy’s Mid-Atlantic division, says the "resale market is tightening up" with under nine months of supply. It was more than 11 at the end of last spring.

Supply, for those of you scratching your heads, refers to how long it would take at the current pace of sales to find buyers for everything on the market. Economists usually say a housing market is balanced between buyers and sellers when supply is around six months. So we're still on the high side of supply, but an improvement, if you're rooting for equilibrium.

Howard County's already there, Wenhold said, "and Baltimore County is just a month or two away."

"Between now and spring we should see additional supplies burned off, with the result being prices that firm up," he predicted.

The new-home inventory is nine months, but that's being pushed up by struggling high-rise condo projects, Wenhold said. "Just looking at the single family and townhome components the inventory is 5.9 months, which is pretty low," he said, calling 7.5 to 8.5 months typical for new homes.

Also, "closings were up on a year over year basis, the first increase in new home sales in five years," he said.

How much of that is about temporary government support -- the home buyer tax credits and Fed-supported low interest rates -- and how much is a sign of permanent improvement? I guess we'll have to wait and see. (Or wait and debate.)

If this is recovery, though, Washington is farther along. Metrostudy calls the metro area "among the best-performing in the nation." Its supply of resale listings? At 5.6 months. That's slightly in favor of sellers, if six months is equilibrium.

Continue reading "Metrostudy: Baltimore housing market 'tightening up'" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 27, 2010

When buying interest peaked last year

TruliaHomeSearchPeaks.jpg

 

If home searches on Trulia match up with the general interest in buying a home, then this map shows how that interest peaked from state to state last year.

In Maryland, the Trulia search peak came in August. But it was all over the board across the country. (More than half-a-dozen states peaked last January.)

But when did contract-signing peak? Or actual home sales? I've put together two graphs that tell the tale in the Baltimore metro area:

Continue reading "When buying interest peaked last year" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 26, 2010

Best and worst places to be selling a home

Where's the easiest place in the Baltimore area to sell a home for the full asking price? Catonsville, by one measure.

Real estate brokerage ZipRealty, analyzing the "hottest" and "coldest" ZIP codes in metro areas it tracks, said the average sales price in in 21228 was 99.9 percent of the average listing price during the last three months of the year. That's a difference of $257.

On the other end of the spectrum is 21216 in West Baltimore, where sellers got 87 percent of what they'd asked for. With an average list price of about $103,000, that's a difference of more than $13,000.

Sales price vs. asking price isn't the only measure of a market's health. Sometimes it's just a yardstick of how realistic sellers are being about what buyers will pay. But it's certainly one way to get at the push-and-pull of supply compared with demand.

Here's ZipRealty's full hot-and-cold list:

Continue reading "Best and worst places to be selling a home" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:45 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 9, 2010

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?

Continue reading "2009: An up year for home sales, if nothing else" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:32 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Housing stats, Polls
        

January 8, 2010

Stay tuned for December home sale numbers

Metropolitan Regional Information Systems expects to release home sale statistics for the Baltimore metro area later today.

Stay tuned, fellow Wonks.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

January 7, 2010

Firm: Baltimore home prices down 8.8%

A real estate data firm says Baltimore metro area home sale prices were 8.8 percent lower in the four months ending Dec. 24 than they were a year earlier.

Good news from the company, Clear Capital: Most of the people selling were ... well, people selling. Bank-owned properties made up 15 percent of home sales in the metro area, which isn't as low as some places but is a heck of a lot lower than the 30 to 50 percent in some of the worst-hit parts of the country. (More than half of sales -- 53 percent -- were bank-owned in Riverside, Calif.) 

Bad news: Baltimore was No. 9 on the company's list of "lowest performing major markets" because prices dropped almost 1 percent from the previous quarter. (Baltimore's quarterly price rose very slightly in the summer, according to Clear Capital.)

Of course, your idea of "good news" and "bad news" will be reversed if you're trying to buy a foreclosure and want prices to keep coming down. (At least there's some good news for everyone ...)

Top performer, according to Clear Capital: Detroit. Yes, Detroit, land of $10,000 homes, which saw a more than 17 percent increase vs. the previous quarter. The company attributed that to the metro area's foreclosure-saturated market, saying bank-owned prices "continue to rise from their steeply discounted levels of early 2009."

Clear Capital, which draws its sales figures from assessors' and recorders' offices, calculates price by comparing repeat sales of the same homes over the years. You might have noticed that its most recent "quarter" is four months rather than three, and that's by design. It throws in an extra month of sales for balance in order to include very recent numbers, which come from data that can be incomplete.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats, The foreclosure mess
        

January 4, 2010

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.

Continue reading "Baltimore-area home prices circa 2009" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 27, 2009

Gee-whiz and oh-geez numbers

$430 billion: The value of home equity loans and lines of credit made by banks in 2006, according to the Associated Press.

$40 billion: The value of home equity loans and lines of credit made in the first nine months of 2009. (That's right -- less than one-tenth the '06 number.)

Infinity and beyond: The amount of taxpayer money the federal government is willing to spend on mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (OK, perhaps I'm overstating it a bit. But the Treasury Department did just eliminate the cap of $400 billion it had in place, setting off speculation that Fannie and Freddie had a gosh-awful last three months of the year. So far the companies have taken $111 billion from Uncle Sam.) 

31 percent: The share of homes in the Baltimore metro area that sold in November after being on the market for more than four months.

32 percent: The share of homes in the Baltimore metro area that sold in November after being on the market for 30 days or less.

10 percent: The decrease in asking price for the typical home on the market in the Baltimore metro area this month, compared with December 2008.

25 percent: The decrease in asking price for the typical home on the market in the Baltimore metro area this month, compared with December 2006.

$8,980,000: Sixth-highest asking price for a home on the market in the Baltimore metro area, according to real estate search engine Trulia. (The Annapolis "manor home," which overlooks water, has a theater, guest house and "3-car garage/artist studio.")

$1,010,000: Asking-price reduction on that manor home in August.

$5,900: Cheapest asking price for a home on the market in the Baltimore metro area, according to Trulia. (The Baltimore foreclosure has three bedrooms, one bathroom and its street number spray-painted on the front door.)

17,255, not counting shadow inventory: The number of Baltimore-area homeowners, as counted by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' active inventory, who sure hope it's easier to sell in 2010 than it was in 2009.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:53 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 21, 2009

Forbes thinks Baltimore is 4th most overpriced

Forbes, which loves lists, has one that no metro area -- or at least the home sellers in metro areas -- would want to appear on: "Where U.S. homes are most overpriced."

Baltimore is No. 4, behind Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville, all in Florida.

This list, unlike others I've seen, is about asking prices. Forbes ranked the 40 largest metro areas by looking at the percentage of homes with price reductions ("an indicator of inflated pricing"), days on the market, asking price vs. the price of homes when they went off the market and -- finally -- the Moody's Economy.com price forecast.

Baltimore came out fourth even though it didn't rank in the top five on any of those measures. Go figure.

The subject of asking prices and whether they're too high (or really too high) is a perennial one among buyers. What's your perception of asking prices in the parts of the Baltimore metro area you're paying attention to? Have things improved in the last year? What impact has the $8,000 tax credit had, if any?

Tip of the hat to Christopher Cruise for noticing the Forbes piece.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:22 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing stats
        

December 18, 2009

Foreclosure news round-up

Home for the holidays: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said Thursday that they won't evict anyone from a foreclosed home from Saturday through Jan. 3 -- a holiday break. Citigroup, meanwhile, announced a 30-day suspension from evictions and new foreclosures.

The Christian Science Monitor, reporting on Citigroup's decision, points out that this sort of move saves a lending institution from comparisons it might not like. For instance, Christmas Eve evictions on the other hand, "bonuses that the bankers are raking in" on the other.

Fewer interested in buying foreclosures: Forty-three percent of adults polled in a survey released this week by Trulia and RealtyTrac said they would be at least somewhat likely to buy a foreclosed home, down from 55 percent in May. Renters are more interested in buying a foreclosure than homeowners (57 percent vs. 38 percent). And -- not surprisingly -- more than 90 percent of prospective second-home buyers and investors are at least open to the idea of a foreclosure purchase.

For you fellow wonks: Just over 2,200 people were polled for the companies by Harris Interactive, which says no margin of error can be calculated because it was an online survey and not based on a probability sample.

More "shadow inventory": First American CoreLogic puts the number of off-the-market foreclosures and close-to-foreclosures at nearly 1.7 million units nationwide in September, the so-called "shadow inventory" that will presumably go up for sale in the future. That's a more than 50 percent increase from a year ago, largely because of a big build-up in seriously delinquent mortgages.

What First American calls the "visible supply" -- homes listed for sale -- totaled 3.8 million units in September, a 19 percent decrease from a year earlier.

Continue reading "Foreclosure news round-up" »

December 11, 2009

The Baltimore-area housing market, Nov. '09 edition

My story today about November home sales in the Baltimore metro area includes what local real estate investor Alan Chantker calls the $64-billion-dollar question: What happens when the home buyer tax credit expires?

Assuming it's not extended again -- and the credit's chief promoter in the Senate swears this is it -- then it will stop being a factor in new contracts after April 30, the deadline to sign.

Then what?

Economist Dean Baker, who warned of the bubble years before it popped, says he expects the market will take another hit soon. He actually expects it before the credit expires, because he thinks the lure of the original $8,000 credit convinced people who would have bought next year to buy this year, thus decreasing next year's pool of potential buyers.

John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which advises the home building and real estate industries (some of you know the firm for its "housing cycle barometer"), is more optimistic. Steve Dutra, vice president of information there, expects modest sales improvement and flat to small decreases in prices next year in the area. (Still, Baltimore does top the barometer list of "areas of affordability concern," calculated by comparing metro areas to their historical norms.)

Kenneth Wenhold, Mid-Atlantic regional director of Metrostudy, another firm that advises home builders, has his own analysis of our area:

Continue reading "The Baltimore-area housing market, Nov. '09 edition" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: First-time buyer tax credit, Housing stats
        

December 10, 2009

November home sales in the Baltimore metro area

Would you like to take a guess how much home sales rose last month -- compared with a year ago -- in the Baltimore metro area? Here, I'll give you choices:

A. 36 percent

B. 63 percent

C. 77 percent

It's "C." ("A" was October's increase.)

That's far and away the biggest increase on record, though of course the record only goes back to the late 1990s when Metropolitan Regional Information Systems started tracking the area. This sure suggests that lots of people were waiting until what they thought was the last minute to get that $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers. (The credit was supposed to expire after Nov. 30. Instead, it was extended and expanded.)

The 2,247 homes sold last month is well above November 2007 as well as November 2008, but it's below previous Novembers on record. (Well below the bubble years, as you can imagine.)

Most deals take longer than a month to close, so presumably a large portion of these deals were struck before November. But the number of contracts signed last month in the metro area was also up -- just not a 77 percent sort of up. The increase was 24 percent over the previous year.

Average sale prices fell about 8 percent in the region.

Want more stats? You'll find MRIS data here.

So what do you predict for December? Or, for that matter, after the credit expires next year, assuming it does?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:21 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: First-time buyer tax credit, Housing stats
        

November 21, 2009

Tom Clancy's new digs, by the numbers

$12.6 million: What author Tom Clancy spent on his new penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in the Inner Harbor

3: Penthouses Clancy combined to make his new mega-digs

12: The number of 1,000-square-foot condos -- the sort of residence certain Wonks own -- that could fit in Clancy's condo

$285,768: Clancy's annual city property tax bill, either right away or -- if he gets the new-construction tax break that phases in the amount -- after five years

50: Buyers it would take to equal those taxes among folks getting $250,000 city homes

2: The number of prospective buyers the Ritz-Carlton developer says it is in talks with about combining units to make more mega-condos

38: New condos selling in the city during the first nine months of the year

530: New, ready-to-occupy condos that builders are trying to sell in the city

All of them: number of condo sellers who wish Clancy had wanted their place

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 10, 2009

Baltimore-area home sales up 36%

You could see it coming as the number of new contracts mounted this summer, but I still said "woah!" when I saw the number of home sales that went to settlement in the Baltimore metro area last month: 2,219, up 36 percent from a year ago.

To put that into perspective, the year-over-year increase in September was just under 10 percent.

It was only last week that the $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers was extended (and expanded), so there were clearly a lot of people who arranged to close on homes last month in order to get the money before it was set to expire Nov. 30.

And buyers were still active last month. Pending deals -- new contracts signed -- jumped 65 percent from a year ago, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Average sale prices continued to decline, down 8 percent from a year ago.

Just to put the buying spree into perspective: The number of homes sold last month is still less than sales in the month of October from 1998 through 2006. And far less compared with the bubble years.

Did you buy or sell last month?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:52 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

Asking prices for homes in Baltimore and D.C.

HousingTracker.net, 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
        

November 8, 2009

Baltimore-area new condos: Lots to go around

In the market for a new condo? You've got a lot choose from in the Baltimore metro area.

Delta Associates, a real estate information and consulting firm, counts 2,586 unsold units -- enough to last six-and-a-half years at the current pace of sales. And that's not all:

In addition, there are 1,111 units planned with probable sales within the next 36 months. There are an additional 3,200 units in the long-term pipeline in the Baltimore metro area, as well as 6,100 multifamily units planned as either condominiums or rental units.
But it could be worse, or rather it has been: "The inventory-to-sales ratio of condos in the Baltimore metro area has dropped significantly over the past six months," Delta notes.

All told, builders recorded 32 net sales in the Baltimore metro area during the summer, Delta said. The "net" is important -- it accounts for the negative effect of buyers canceling contracts.

Prices in September fell about 7 percent vs. a year earlier across the metro area. The decline is less in the city -- about 5 percent -- and more than 10 percent in the northern suburbs, Delta said.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

November 4, 2009

Housing markets: Baltimore vs. Washington (and BWI)

Home-sale trends are generally stronger in and around Washington, but the Baltimore area is showing some signs of life. That's the conclusion of a new report by Delta Associates, a real estate information and consulting firm, and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the region's multiple-listing service.

Sales in the summer were up about 7 percent from a year earlier in the D.C. region, and there were 5.4 months of inventory -- "below the normal, healthy standard of 6 months, signaling that demand is beginning to outpace supply," the report notes. ("Months of inventory" refers to the time it would take homes listed for sale to find buyers at the current pace of transactions.)

In the Baltimore metro area, sales in the summer rose a bit faster -- about 8 percent from a year earlier. But there's more catch-up to do: 8.8 months of inventory.

Homes are sitting longer on the market here as well: 117 days in the Baltimore area compared with 81 in the Washington area.

The market decline hit our southern neighbor first, and it started to recover first, too. D.C.'s job market is one of the strongest in the nation, which doesn't hurt.

The Delta and MRIS report also shone a spotlight on neighborhoods around BWI, a market between Baltimore and Washington. It offered some illuminating statistics about what exactly is selling.

Continue reading "Housing markets: Baltimore vs. Washington (and BWI)" »

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

October 28, 2009

Is "not as bad" the new good?

What qualifies as a housing-market turnaround? I'm curious what you all think as analysts digest Standard & Poor's newest Case-Shiller numbers, which show home prices falling more slowly than before.

Prices in August -- the numbers released Tuesday -- were down about 11 percent from a year ago among the 20 large metro areas Case-Shiller tracks (Washington among them, but not Baltimore). Compare that with a 19 percent year-over-year drop in January. And August prices were up slightly compared with the previous month.

Sean Hannon at the Seeking Alpha blog is not impressed. "If artificially low interest rates, home buyer tax credits, and foreclosure moratoriums could not drive prices higher and lead to a boom in home sales, what hope is there for a stimulus-free recovery?" he asks.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, also had words of caution in a statement released with the numbers. He noted the planned expiration of the first-time buyer tax credit after Nov. 30 and "anticipated higher unemployment rates through year-end."

"Both may have a dampening effect on home prices," Blitzer said.

Forget the analyst-speak and macroeconomics for a moment. What do you want to see to convince you -- as a homeowner or renter -- that the housing market has recovered? Prices no longer dropping? Prices increasing a certain amount? Prices back to their 2006-or-so peaks? Or something else altogether?

And are you holding off on doing something -- buying, selling, renovating, job-hunting -- until you see it?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 27, 2009

Home buying and selling in the Baltimore area

More buyers signed contracts for homes in the Baltimore metro area last month than a year earlier -- 32 percent more. You knew this already if you've been crunching numbers or hanging on my every word, but here's something I haven't mentioned already: Homes newly listed for sale last month were down slightly.

Fewer homes coming into the pipeline, more going out -- that's all to the good for would-be sellers.

We're not back to a pre-bubble balance between new contracts and new for-sale listings, though. Here's a graph that tells the tale, showing stats for the month of September throughout the decade:

Continue reading "Home buying and selling in the Baltimore area" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 19, 2009

Where home prices aren't falling

If you're getting tired of hearing about home prices falling, here's a break from that: states where prices are up. A bit, at least.

North Dakota prices were 2.8 percent higher in the spring than they were a year earlier, according to the most recent figures from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Prices rose fractionally in three other states: Oklahoma, South Dakota and Maine.

This is according to the FHFA's index tracking same-home sales over time.

Maryland prices, by contrast, fell just under 8 percent over the same period. (Thus endeth the break.) Nevada, the state with the fastest-falling prices, registered a 28 percent drop.

At this point, you might be thinking: North Dakota?! But it makes sense.

That state's unemployment rate is best in the nation -- a low 4.3 percent at a time when U.S. joblessness is flirting with 10 percent. And its home-price increase during the housing-frenzy days wasn't nearly as tremendous as in Maryland, Nevada and many other states.

In spring 2005, when year-over-year prices increased more than 20 percent in Maryland and Nevada, North Dakota's gain was a comparatively sedate 7.7 percent.

I wonder if North Dakota residents are feeling smug right now.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 13, 2009

For sale: fewer homes

About 10 percent fewer homes were for sale in the Baltimore metro area last month than a year earlier. So says real estate brokerage ZipRealty in a new analysis of data on the multiple-listing service.

That's the direction you want things going if you're rooting for a market where the number of homes and interested buyers are more or less equal.

Not-so-good news: Most of the metro areas ZipRealty tracked in September saw bigger drops.

The company looked at 26 large regions, from Austin to Washington, and said inventory decreased more than 10 percent in all but seven. The number of homes for sale is down by 33 percent -- a full third -- in D.C. And Los Angeles has less than half the inventory now that it did a year ago.

UPDATE: Several readers have suggested making it clear that we're talking about homes listed for sale, as opposed to homes that people would really like to sell but haven't listed or have actually pulled off the market. Seems to me it's not truly for sale if you're not telling anyone about it, but no question there's shadow inventory out there.

Another notable stat from ZipRealty's analysis: The average listing in the Baltimore metro area has had two price reductions. I couldn't find an online link to the inventory report, but the price information is here.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:30 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 11, 2009

Selling your home at a loss

If there's one assumption about homeownership that was pretty universal before this decade, it's that you'll at least equal your purchase price when you sell. Now, though, many aren't managing that.

In the Baltimore metro area, more than a third of homes bought this decade and resold in the first half of this year went for less than the sellers originally paid for the property. That's not counting closing costs at either end, mind you.

I crunched data from the state Department of Assessments and Taxation to put together this analysis of resold homes. You can read the full story about selling at a loss here.

Want to see more statistics? Go here and here.

Did you sell a home for less or buy a home in this category? Share your tale.

Here's one couple's story:

 

 

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing market experiences, Housing stats
        

October 10, 2009

Asking prices down

If yesterday's post about September home sales just whetted your appetite, you can read more in today's story. Included: some of the debate about the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit, and whether to extend/expand it. (Which reminds me: This week's twin polls about the tax credit close at noon, so vote now if you haven't already.)

One thing I couldn't fit into the story is the newest monthly data from real estate search engine Trulia about price reductions. Compared with other large cities, the percentage of would-be sellers who have reduced their asking prices is fifth-highest in Baltimore. Or we're part of a five-way tie for first, depending on how you look at it.

Memphis, Minneapolis, Portland, Indianapolis and Baltimore all have reduced prices on 36 percent of their listings, but I'm guessing that the (hidden) decimal places explain why Trulia ranked these cities first through fifth.

Lowest among the 50 largest cities: Fresno, Calif., where 14 percent of listings have been price-reduced.

The average reduction in Baltimore is 11 percent, Trulia says. And average sellers in Baltimore last month got 13 percent less than they asked for, according to MRIS, so -- ouch.

Or, if you're a buyer, woohoo.

It really does depend which side of the settlement table you're on, doesn't it?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 9, 2009

Baltimore-area home sales up for 4th month

Home sales rose about 10 percent in the Baltimore metro area in September, compared with a year earlier. That's the fourth straight month of year-over-year gains. Industry players credit the credit -- the $8,000 one for first-time buyers -- and price drops, which make homes more affordable for more people.

Speaking of drops: Average prices fell 7 percent in the metro area vs. a year ago. That's the 16th straight month of declines. The average sale price was about $275,000, less than the average seller got in September 2005 but still more than the '04 average.

Pending deals -- contracts written last month -- jumped 32 percent year-over-year. Buyers hoping to get in by the Nov. 30 tax credit deadline, I presume?

Prices fell across the region, and sales rose everywhere except Baltimore. The city's number of home sales dropped 13 percent. (A few more local details in my quick home sales story here, or see the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems data here.)

What are you noticing out there, market watchers?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:31 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

October 7, 2009

Home prices ... up?

Home prices in the Baltimore metro area were among the weakest in the nation this summer, but there are some hopeful signs for frustrated sellers, according to a new report by a real estate data firm.

Prices rose a tenth of a percent in the metro area in the four months ending Sept. 25 vs. the previous three months, California-based Clear Capital said. That’s lower than all but two other major housing markets — Las Vegas and Tucson, Ariz.

But you'll notice that prices are up, not down. It’s the first break in price declines for the Baltimore area since the summer of 2007, the report said.

Kevin Marshall, president of Clear Capital, thinks earlier increases in other parts of the country had a psychological effect on Baltimore buyers.

Continue reading "Home prices ... up?" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 1:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Housing stats, The foreclosure mess
        

September 23, 2009

Interesting facts

Ask, and you might receive some interesting answers. That's how it works for the Census Bureau, which this week released the answers it got from the 2008 American Community Survey.

For instance, Maryland homeowners think their values fell last year. The typical value residents gave was about $341,000, down 5 percent ($19,000) from the year before. (As the Census Bureau points out, "Value is the respondent's estimate of how much the property ... would sell for if it were for sale." It's not necessarily what it would sell for.)

On the other hand, we're still No. 1! For income, that is. The median household in Maryland was bringing in about $70,500 last year, just topping New Jersey (almost $70,400). What? The difference is within the margin of error, you say? Shh, the New Jersey folks might be listening!

And finally, there's not a lot of living near your work going on. Maryland, Brent Jones reports in a story about the American Community Survey, "had the second longest commute time in the nation at 31.5 minutes, just behind New York with 31.6." I'm disappointed in you all. If only you'd taken a measly seven seconds longer on the daily commute last year, we'd be No. 1 on this measure, too. Come on, guys. Try harder next time.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats, We're No. 1! (Or thereabouts)
        

September 18, 2009

A tale of two jurisdictions' housing markets

So the housing market is looking brighter for sellers in Howard County, as I mentioned yesterday. At the current pace of sales, it would take 5.3 months to find buyers for all the Howard homes on the market -- a pretty balanced supply and demand. Tilted slightly in sellers' favor, if anything. (The rule of thumb for market equilibrium is roughly six months, with more being good for buyers and less, good for sellers.)

Baltimore, meanwhile, has more than 15 months of supply, according to Sawbuck Realty.

Now, I realize that anyone of the opinion that Howard County is a nicer place to live than Baltimore will think these statistics require no explanation. But both situations look more complex to me than, say, several thousand people trying to sell their homes in the city and move to the county that James Rouse put on the map. At least, that's the impression I got from burrowing into the sales data.

Continue reading "A tale of two jurisdictions' housing markets" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 11:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 17, 2009

OK, fine, location matters too

I said earlier this week that the really interesting trend in real estate -- never mind "location, location, location" -- is the difference in the number of homes selling vs. those sitting, by price range.

But it's not as if location is irrelevant. Overall in the Baltimore region, supply vs. demand is unbalanced in buyers' favor. Very much so in some spots. And yet, that's not true everywhere. In one county, it seems to be balancing out -- maybe even tipping slightly in favor of sellers.

Yeah, I thought that would get your attention. Can you guess which one?

Continue reading "OK, fine, location matters too" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 15, 2009

How Baltimore stacks up

If you like to know how we compare with the rest of the nation, the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program has just the report for you: It ranks the 100 largest metro areas on economic and housing-market measures of health.

I wrote a story for today's paper about the economic stats -- we're 18th best, for instance, as measured by the recent change in employment. (As in, it's not as bad here as it is in 82 other places. Woohoo!) The Baltimore metro area was in or near the top quarter of metro areas on most of the economic measurements.

But what about the housing stats? Those are a different story.

Our 5.8 percent drop in home prices in the spring, compared with a year earlier, ranked us 73rd out of 100. (With 100 being worst, at least from a homeowner point of view.)

The metro area was 61st out of 100 for its share of bank-owned homes -- 2.84 for every 1,000 mortgageable properties. (The average for all metro areas was higher, but only because some big regions are so hard hit.) These homes, which were foreclosed on and taken back by lenders, are typically called "REOs" for "real estate owned."

Baltimore's worst ranking on the report: Measured by the change in bank-owned properties from the first quarter of the year to the second quarter, it was 83rd out of 100.

Continue reading "How Baltimore stacks up" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:41 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats, The economy, The foreclosure mess
        

September 14, 2009

Price point, price point, price point

Location, schmocation -- the really interesting trend in the housing market today is about price range.

To wit: Half the homes that sold last month in the Baltimore metro area were under $250,000. A year earlier, it was 42 percent. In August 2007, it was 40 percent.

A year ago, the same number of homes sold for less than $150,000 as sold for $500,000 or more. Last month, a change of fortunes: Buyers snapped up 30 percent more under-$150 homes and 8 percent less in the half-mil range.

So, more people are getting less-pricey homes. But how easy is it to sell one?

Continue reading "Price point, price point, price point" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 12, 2009

A lot of reduced prices in Baltimore

Just over a third of the homes on the market in Baltimore have had at least one drop in the asking price -- one of the largest shares among large cities. That's according to real estate site Trulia, which regularly compares listings to see how many are reduced.

Among the 50 biggest cities, these had the most homes with price cuts:

1. Jacksonville, Fla. (37 percent)

2. Milwaukee (36 percent)

3. Portland (35 percent) -- tied with Memphis, Tenn.

5. Baltimore (34 percent) -- tied with Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Raleigh, N.C. (Here's an example of a reduced-price city home -- $255,000 off!)

Continue reading "A lot of reduced prices in Baltimore" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 11, 2009

A split housing market

Home sales are rising in the Baltimore metro area, but the effect is really focused.

Buyers got 23 percent more homes last month in the under-$250,000 range than they did a year ago, but 9 percent fewer homes above that price mark.

That's one of the nuggets in today's housing-market story. You'll also find a prospective seller who shares the downsides -- and one upside -- of relocating out of state in a tricky housing market.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:39 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 10, 2009

August home sales

Baltimore-area home sales in August were up year-over-year for the third straight month, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems said today. The increase was about 5 percent in the metro area, while average sale prices dropped 7 percent.

August's average -- about $295,000 -- is $14,000 lower than what sellers got four years earlier.

"Your mileage may vary" warning: Some sellers who bought at the peak are seeing a much bigger loss of value. An average is just an average, and it also doesn't account for the homes that are sitting on the market unsold.

That unsold group added up to about 18,700 homes last month. That's down 10 percent from a year earlier -- good news for sellers -- but more than double what it was at the peak of the buying craze in 2005.

Sales, meanwhile, are down 54 percent from the level set in August 2005.

On the upside, pending deals that buyers and sellers agreed to last month rose 25 percent from a year ago. I sense a mad rush to close by Nov. 30, when the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers is supposed to expire.

More on this in tomorrow's story. Stay tuned.

What are you noticing about the housing market nowadays?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 5:27 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

The not-so-expensive 'burbs

Many Baltimore neighborhoods have average sale prices under $250,000, but go outside city lines and you're bombarded with higher-priced options. Average prices are above $250 in three-quarters of ZIP codes in the 'burbs.

Still, if $250,000 is your ceiling, you could look at it as a glass-quarter-full sort of deal and check out the one-in-four ZIPs that are in your price range.

Here's the list, which shows sales averages for the first half of the year:

Continue reading "The not-so-expensive 'burbs" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 8, 2009

The not-so-expensive neighborhoods

Lookylooing is all good fun, which is probably why so many people lookylooed at last week's lists of the most expensive ZIP codes and city neighborhoods in the Baltimore metro area.

Sometimes, though, you just want to know where to find the comparatively inexpensive places. You know, with the homes you might actually be able to afford.

Here's a list for you. Today, city neighborhoods. Tomorrow, the world! (The part of the world that includes the Baltimore suburbs, anyway.)

Continue reading "The not-so-expensive neighborhoods" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 5, 2009

Homes for sale under $250,000: Where are they?

If you're thinking of buying for the first time, you're probably interested in homes priced below $250,000. What are your chances of finding something in that range?

As always, it depends on where you look. The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors compared homes on the market two weeks ago and found -- to no one's surprise, I'd imagine -- that your odds of finding a place for less than $250k are best in Baltimore. Nearly three-quarters of listings were priced at $250,000 or under in the city.

Baltimore County and Harford County are next on the list for their share of less-pricey homes for sale. Almost half the listings in Baltimore County were $250,000 or under; it was 43 percent in Harford.

It's hardest in Howard County, where 15 percent of sellers were asking $250,000 or less. 

(One asterisk: The Realtors group didn't include homes listed for less than $30,000 in its affordability calculation, figuring there's nothing in that range that's livable as is.) 

Here's a chart I put together with these stats. (Just remember that the percentages don't include the listings under $30,000.)

250listings.jpg

And here's the under-$200 picture: 

Continue reading "Homes for sale under $250,000: Where are they?" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: First-time home buyers, Housing stats
        

September 3, 2009

Priciest city neighborhoods

Yesterday's post highlighted the most expensive ZIP codes in the metro area. But what, you asked, about city neighborhoods? (Some of you asked more nicely than others. Sheesh, folks, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Not, er, that I'm comparing myself to a fly.)

As it happens, I had a city Top 10 all ready to go. So you would have received even if you hadn't asked, but it's nice to know you're chomping at the bit.

Today's story about expensive places has a map showing the five most expensive city neighborhoods on top of the 10 priciest ZIPs. But hey -- I'll throw in five more at no extra charge.

Without further ado, the most expensive Baltimore neighborhoods, ranked by average sale price in the first half of the year:

1. Homeland. Average price: $549,900. (Number of homes sold: 13.)

2. Roland Park. Average price: $487,300. (Number of homes sold: 17.)

3. Guilford. Average price: $471,200. (Number of homes sold: 16.)

4. Inner Harbor. Average price: $423,800. (Number of homes sold: 16.)

5. Otterbein. Average price: $361,700. (Number of homes sold: 10.)

Read on for the rest of the top 10: 

Continue reading "Priciest city neighborhoods" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

September 2, 2009

Most expensive communities in the Baltimore area

Now, I know many of you don't intend to buy an expensive home, but admit it -- you're interested. If only in a "my gosh who can afford such a place" way. So naturally you're curious to know which communities in the Baltimore area are the priciest. 

I have just the Top 10 list for you.

Herewith are those communities, based on average sale price in the first half of the year:

10. Towson in Baltimore County. ZIP code: 21204. Average price: $500,300. (Number of homes sold: 52.)

9. Riva in Anne Arundel County. ZIP code: 21140. Average price: $531,900. (Number of homes sold: 21.)

8. Phoenix in Baltimore County. ZIP code: 21131. Average price: $542,200. (Number of homes sold: 25.)

7. West River in Anne Arundel County. ZIP code: 20778. Average price: $587,100. (Number of homes sold: 8.)

6. Fulton in Howard County. ZIP code: 20759. Average price: $621,800. (Number of homes sold: 19.)

Read on for the top five.

Continue reading "Most expensive communities in the Baltimore area" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:12 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 26, 2009

What a balanced housing market looks like

When will home sellers and buyers be on basically equal footing? When supply equals demand. The magic number, many housing experts say, is six.

As in, "it'll take six months to sell all the homes now on the market at the current pace of sales."

During the first half of the year, the Baltimore metro area's supply averaged 11.5 months.

"As that number approaches six, we'll start to see stabilization in pricing," said Kenneth Wenhold, director of the Mid-Atlantic region for Metrostudy, a housing-market research firm. "When Northern Virginia broke the six mark, we saw things change very dramatically in a very short period of time. ... They were at about 10.4 months two years ago, and it only took them about nine months to get down to a six months' supply."

Could that happen farther north?

Continue reading "What a balanced housing market looks like" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 23, 2009

Our housing market, neighborhood by neighborhood

Today's story about housing trends in the Baltimore metro area is the labor-intensive one we do every summer: What happened to prices and sales in suburban ZIP codes and city neighborhoods in the first half of the year?

I crunched so many numbers, my teeth hurt.

There's lots to see besides the story:

--Maps (showing the change in metro-area sales and prices, and the same for city neighborhoods) by cartographer extraordinaire Christine Schoenberg, who gave up part of her vacation to pull everything together in time.

--A video about recent home buyer Will Cocks, who moved from Bowie to Baltimore. Thanks to multimedia whiz Christopher Assaf for piecing my raw footage into something watchable.

--A photo gallery showing the place Amy Lincoln MacDonald and Paul MacDonald sold in Glen Burnie and the one they bought in Lauraville, along with Cocks moving into his Greenmount West home. Photography by the excellent Kenneth K. Lam and Karl Merton Ferron.

--A nifty online search tool, put together by web guru Lauren Custer, that lets you see how many homes sold in your ZIP code, for how much and how trends changed from a year ago.

--An Excel file showing home-sale trends in city neighborhoods. In that file you'll find worksheets with the neighborhoods ordered alphabetically, by price change and by sales change. (There's also a clickable city map that lets you see which neighborhood is which, put together on short notice by the inestimable Kevin Richardson.)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 20, 2009

Where home sales are brewing

If you want to know how many homes have been sold in a particular area, you look at settlements. But if you want to know how many homes will be sold, you've got something better than tea-leaves -- you've got pending deals.

The number of buyers signing contracts last month (with or without contingencies) rose throughout the Baltimore area vs. a year earlier, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. That includes Baltimore, which was still seeing a drop in completed sales last month.

Here's how pending deals stacked up last month compared with July 2008:

Carroll County, up 31 percent

Anne Arundel County, up 26 percent

Howard County, up 22 percent

Harford County, up 16 percent

Baltimore City and Baltimore County, both up 8 percent

Contracts don't always turn into sales -- something could go wrong, like a loan falling through. But they're a clear intention to buy.

I was surprised to see that the counties posting the biggest increases in pending deals were also the most expensive in the region, on average. Much of the action is in first-time-buyer markets, and you'd think that first-time buyers would have an easier time finding affordable homes in the city and Baltimore and Harford counties. 

But maybe buyers are uncovering deals in pricier communities. Of the completed sales in Carroll last month, 36 percent were under $250,000. A year earlier, it was 26 percent.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 14, 2009

Price reduced -- by $41 million

A third of the homes for sale in Baltimore are listed for less than their original asking price on Trulia, the real estate site said today. About $41 million less, cumulatively.

The city ranks 11th for its percentage of homes with reductions, which Trulia calculated by seeing how many current listings -- not including foreclosures -- dropped their prices between Aug. 1, 2008 and Aug. 1 of this year.

The average price drop? Eleven percent.

Some of those individual decreases are steep. This three-bedroom Northwest Baltimore rowhouse that went from $75,000 -- its purchase price in 2006 -- to $30,000, for instance. Or this rehabbed Patterson Place home, down 31 percent to $110,000.

Jacksonville, Fla. topped Trulia's list with asking-price cuts on 38 percent of homes for sale. But sellers' reductions were biggest in economically depressed Detroit, down 22 percent on average.

Price reductions might bring buyers to the table, but that doesn't guarantee that those buyers won't offer still less. Average sellers in Baltimore got 89 percent of their asking price last month, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 11, 2009

July home sales and Zillow's take on the local market

Sales of homes under $250,000 were way up last month in the Baltimore metro area. Sales of pricier homes? Slightly down.

More interesting stats -- and economist forecasts -- in today's story about the Baltimore-area housing market. C'mon, you know you want to read it.

For all you nice folks who've already been there and done that, here are new statistics from Zillow's second-quarter Real Estate Market Report:

Continue reading "July home sales and Zillow's take on the local market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

August 10, 2009

July home sales in the Baltimore area: up

More homes sold last month in the Baltimore metro area than a year earlier, according to numbers just released by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. It's the second month in a row of increasing sales -- and the first time that's happened since the go-go days of 2005.

This ain't '05, of course. Average prices fell 6.8 percent in July, to just under $298,000. Four years ago, prices were rising at a 20 percent clip.

Prices fell across the Baltimore area in July, from 5.5 percent in Carroll County to almost 11 percent in Harford County.

But what about sales, you say? Buyers closed on 2,240 homes in the city and surrounding counties last month, up nearly 10 percent from a year earlier. That follows a 2 percent increase in June vs. the year before.

The increase wasn't quite universal. Home sales rose in the suburbs, particularly in Howard County (up 27 percent). But 8 percent fewer homes changed hands in the city last month, according to MRIS.

Do you think the federal government's first-time homebuyer tax credit is fueling sales? What will happen when the credit expires Nov. 30 -- assuming it's not extended?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:03 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

July 28, 2009

New home sales up ... or possibly down

There's a lot of woohoo-ing over the news that sales of new homes in the U.S. rose 11 percent in June, compared with the month before. "The worst of the housing recession is now behind us," David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities, told The Associated Press.

This may be. Certainly there are other hopeful signs, even amidst the dour news of layoffs. But you probably don't want to hang your hat on that 11 percent increase because the federal government estimate comes with a big asterisk: plus or minus 13.2 percent.

That's right: Home sales might have increased 11 percent, or maybe they're up 24.2 percent or down 2.2 percent. As the press release helpfully notes, "The Census Bureau does not have sufficient statistical evidence to conclude that the actual change is different from zero." In wonk-speak, that means the change is not "statistically significant."

The change in new-home sales from a year ago is big enough that the Census Bureau is comfortable that it's not zero. But that estimate is a 21.3 percent drop.

Hmm ... what's the opposite of woohoo? Oh yes.

Doh!

Economists seem to be hanging their hat on the trend, which is positive for the past three months. Not considering the margin of error, of course.

I was hoping for something a bit more hopeful, and also more local, so I turned to new-home permits issued in June. (The federal government tracks that measure of planned construction in our area as well as nationally.) Builders got permits for 442 units in the Baltimore metro area, down 16 percent from a year ago.

Now, I realize that doesn't sound like a woohoo-worthy statistic -- unless you're in favor of less building -- but it's a much smaller drop than the one nationwide. U.S. new-home permits fell 37 percent, according to the government's unadjusted numbers.

And new-home permits in the metro area actually rose a tiny bit in May vs. a year earlier, up by 9 units.

I don't know if it's something to hang your hat on, but it's worth noting.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats
        

July 22, 2009

Signs of home sales to come?

Here are two stats to cheer up would-be home sellers: Sixteen percent more properties were under contract last month in the Baltimore metro area than a year ago, and 10 percent fewer were on the market jostling for buyers' attention.

The biggest increase in pending deals came in Howard and Carroll counties (both up 26 percent), followed by Anne Arundel County (up 23 percent), Baltimore City (up 13 percent), Baltimore County (up 12 percent) and Harford County (up 1 percent). The raw numbers come from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems via the Maryland Association of Realtors.

Howard's inventory of homes for sale dropped 17 percent from a year ago. The decrease ranged from 8 percent to 10 percent in the rest of the metro area.

Many pending deals come with contingencies, so they won't necessarily get to settlement. But the figure is a useful bellwether. The increase in home sales last month was preceded by an increase in pendings.

If this is a sign of the long-awaited "bottom" in home sales, the Maryland side of the Washington metro area is farther along than we are: Add up Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and pending deals were up 63 percent last month.

Together, those three counties had fewer pending deals a year ago than the Baltimore metro area. Now they have more -- 2,759 to our 2,723.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Housing stats
        

July 16, 2009

What's 'affordable'?

In this week's story about more homes listed for under $250,000, I included a bit of income number-crunching to show why sellers will probably have more luck in that price range than above it. Here's what I wrote:
The typical household in the Baltimore metro area earns about $71,000. Buyers getting a low-down-payment FHA mortgage can comfortably afford a $250,000 house with today's rates as long as they make at least $65,000, by themselves or as part of a couple.

Some of you took issue with the "comfortably" that's placed oh-so-innocently right before "afford." Reader Jay, noting property taxes and other housing costs, wrote: "Wouldn't a $250K home in Baltimore City end up in monthly payments of 50% plus of a $71K income? Isn't that how the country ended up in the housing crisis that it's in -- people spending way more than they should on their homes?"

No question, Jay, that was a big part of the problem. (Also cash-out refinancing, but that's another story.) More about the "comfortably" in a moment. First, here's how I calculated affordability:

Continue reading "What's 'affordable'?" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:07 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Housing market experiences, Housing stats
        

July 15, 2009

More homes for sale under $250,000

Is the price right on homes for sale nowadays? That's a point of great contention, as you'll quickly notice reading the comments on this blog. But one thing's for certain: More and more homes are listed for less than $250,000.

Homes with asking prices below that mark made up 43 percent of the Baltimore metro area's housing market in May, up from 24 percent three years earlier. Total listings in that price range: about 8,150, the highest figure for the month of May since 2001.

More on this in my story today, which you can read here.

What probably won't surprise you is that your under-$250 options are more varied in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County than in Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties. And there are a lot of foreclosures and short sales in the mix.

Looking to buy (or sell) in the under-$250 range? What trends have you noticed?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:04 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: First-time home buyers, Housing stats
        

July 14, 2009

First-time home buyers

Local agents say they're seeing a lot of first-time home buyers. This isn't too surprising, since it's an advantage nowadays to not have a home you have to sell first -- plus there's the $8,000 tax credit, an enticement for some first-timers.

But I've been wondering just how much of the Baltimore-area market is made up of prospective homeowners.

When I asked Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III with the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, he said: "I've been hearing figures like 50 percent."

That would be high for the metro area. Nationally, the average hovers around 40 percent. And last year, 40 percent of Baltimore County buyers were first-timers, according to National Association of Realtors data that Landers provided to me.

But the city, with its lower prices, always attracts a lot of new buyers: They were 65 percent of the city's housing market last year.

If you're a first-time buyer (or thinking of becoming one), what factors made you decide to make a move? If you've thought about buying and opted against it, what issues turned you off?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:28 AM | | Comments (33)
Categories: First-time home buyers, Housing stats
        

July 13, 2009

Price reductions in the Baltimore area

Home sellers have reduced their asking prices on 25 percent of properties for sale in Baltimore, real estate search engine Trulia says. That's the same as the national average, and less than the number of city listings last month that had at least one reduction.

Average price drop: 10 percent, or $28,192. (You can see those listings here.)

Baltimore was noted in Trulia's press release as one of the cities with a "significant" decrease in the percentage of listings with price declines -- last month, it was 30 percent. 

"All real estate is local and we’re seeing glimmers of hope as price stabilization occurs in major cities across the nation, including some of the earliest hit cities that have experienced huge declines in the past few years," said Pete Flint, Trulia co-founder and CEO. "On the flip side, perhaps sellers are pricing their homes more rationally to get them off the market as soon as possible."

Trulia, which crunched other local numbers for me, said the rest of the metro area has a greater share of listings with price reductions than the city. As of last week, it was 26 percent in Howard, 27 percent in Harford, 29 percent in Carroll, 31 percent in Baltimore County and 32 percent in Anne Arundel.

But the average reduction amount was smaller in the counties, Trulia said: 9 percent in both Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, 8 percent in both Carroll and Howard counties and 7 percent in Harford County.

What really struck