Sales of existing homes in the metropolitan area continued to lag in December, as a 33 percent drop in the number of homes sold in Baltimore led a 26 percent regional decline, according to a report by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.
Prices remained stable in December, with an average of $117,294. Both the number of sales and the average price are compared to December 1989.
The drop in regionwide sales was slightly smaller than it has been in recent months; sales fell 30 percent in October and 29 percent in November. December is ordinarily a slow period for real estate sales.
The data covers Baltimore City and Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Kent counties. Anne Arundel County sales aren't included because Anne Arundel has its own Board of Realtors and its own Multiple Listing Service.
Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors President Brandon Gaines was upbeat, as Realtors have been about the slow sales figures of recent months.
"The current real estate market continues to offer a wide variety of housing stock at reasonable prices," said Mr. Gaines, who is also a broker at W. H. C. Wilson Inc. in Baltimore.
"First-time homebuyers will find this an ideal time to enter the housing market, given the inventory and interest rates currently available," he said.
Indeed, the inventory of homes listed for sale rose 22 percent in December, led by a gain of more than 50 percent in Howard County. The number of homes listed all year rose 13 percent over 1989.
The December figure contradicted predictions by builders last year that Howard County's limit on building permits would squeeze the inventory of homes.