Sales of existing single-family homes in Maryland, which would normally indicate whether the state's real estate industry is in sagging or robust health, are flat and showing little progress, according to a local real estate group.
Sales figures for June showed virtually no improvement over sales in May. Also, there was a slight decline in June sales when compared with June of last year.
In all, the Maryland Association of Realtors reported that statewide, 4,450 units were sold last month, compared with 4,454 in May and 4,467 in June 1990.
Still, industry officials cautioned against concluding the state's real estate market would remain stagnant.
Pierre Vining, acting president of the state association, said he is optimistic that coming months will show an increase in sales. He noted that June figures reflect closings on contracts that were signed in March or April, when the market was just beginning to emerge from the recession.
Vining said the "scuttlebutt" within local real estate offices is that sales have been picking up.
"The June figures don't indicate the level of activity in the brokerages today," he said. "Generally, the outlook is pretty good, although it's not booming yet."
Fletcher Hall, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said the state's flat sales figures for June are due to the recession hitting hardest among white-collar workers, who have yet to regain full confidence in the economy.
"We have a high concentration of the types of people who were the most affected by the economic downturn," Hall said.
Maryland's performance stands in contrast to sales of existing homes nationally, which jumped 1.4 percent in June to their highest level in 2 1/2 years, the National Association of Realtors revealed yesterday.
The Midwest, which was unable to sustain a dramatic sales increase in May, was the only region in the nation that did not post a gain.
Sales of previously owned single-family homes totaled a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.59 million, up from a revised 3.54 million a month earlier. The May rate first was estimated to have been 3.51 million, the Realtors said.
The June rate was the highest since January 1989 when the rate reached 3.66 million. It also was 6.5 percent above that of June 1990.
"This is a good, solid sign of recovery," said Harley Rouda, the national association president.