Baltimore-area real estate sales improved in January compared with sales a year earlier, showing what real estate industry professionals say is an upward trend foretelling a better spring.
The number of existing housing units under contract for sale was 36 percent higher last month than in January 1991, according to data released yesterday by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors. The sales of 1,486 units were pending Jan. 31, up from 1,092 a year earlier.
"The continuation of this busy trend in residential home sales will reflect a very active spring," said William M. Hesson Jr., the board president. The number of new listings also rose dramatically, to 3,948 last month from 2,981 in January 1991, an increase of 32 percent.
Bruce Piccinini, a sales associate with O'Conor Piper & Flynn in Timonium, said low interest rates were one lure bringing many first-time buyers and some trade-up buyers back into the real estate market.
Although sales activity is picking up, real estate executives acknowledged that last year was a particularly weak time for real estate with the onset of the Persian Gulf war.
And they also warned that consumer confidence has yet to return to normal.
"Consumer confidence still has a little way to go," Mr. Piccinini said.
Prices have stabilized, according to the statistics. The dollar volume of settled residential sales last month was 2 percent lower than in the same month last year.
The average price of a home rose slightly, to $122,067 in January 1992 from $120,907 in January 1991, the board reported.
The Realtors' figures include contracts of sale for homes in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Kent counties. Anne Arundel County has its own Board of Realtors and releases its figures separately.
Pending home sales
.. .. .. .. Jan. Jan.
County .. .. .. .1991 1992
Baltimore .. .. ..280 .311
Baltimore Co. .. .423 .575
Carroll .. .. .. ..75 .145
Harford .. ... .. 116 .158
Howard .. .. .. ..143 .230
Other counties .. .55 ..67
Total .. .. .. ..1092 1468