Economy stalls rapid rise of Harford Co.'s market

April 28, 1991|By Ellen James Martin

The Harford County real estate market has some distance to go before it rebounds to the level of activity in the late 1980s, said Michael Johns, executive vice president for sales at Grempler Realtors.

The county is attractive to many first-time buyers because of its large inventory of relatively affordable homes. But the market still has more newly constructed properties than it can absorb at this point, Mr. Johns acknowledged.

"Buyers are coming back," he said. "But we need to continue the surge of first-time buyers. There's a large inventory of new homes."

Among the new developments is an expansion of Riverside, a huge multiuse development in Belcamp, about 10 miles south of Havre de Grace.

Keystone Homes and Ryland Homes are finishing the first of 1,200 to 1,500 condominiums, town houses and single-family homes in Riverside's second section.

Questar Properties of Baltimore also has a major project in Riverside. Questar is building a 288-unit luxury garden apartment community with in the Arborview at Riverside development. The Arborview at Riverside apartments feature a 4,000-square-foot community center, swimming pool and tennis courts.

The county real estate market, which rocketed to dizzying heights in 1988 and 1989, made a soft landing last year.

The median price of county homes rose a modest 4 percent, and sales volume increased 6 percent during 1990, according to data collected by Rufus S. Lusk & Son Inc. That was a sharp drop from annual increases of about 11 percent in 1988 and 1989.

Developers have reacted to such changes. Parr's Ridge, for example, in Westminster near Western Maryland College, recently began selling a lower-priced condominium in addition to its original models.

Starting at $79,900, the new condominium, called "The Meade," has the roominess of the pricier models. But it lacks extra features such as fireplaces, lofts and whirlpool baths.

Still, the Harford County market has fared better than some other areas. In Howard County, for example, sales volume fell by 17 percent from 1989 to 1990.

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