New data paint mixed picture for home sales

August 06, 1992|By Ellen James Martin | Ellen James Martin,National Association of RealtorsStaff Writer

A mixed picture of residential real estate in Maryland and beyond emerged yesterday with the release of new statistics on home prices and sales.

The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors released figures showing that the number of new and used homes that reached settlement last month was 11 percent higher than in the same month a year earlier.

At the same time, the Legg Mason Realty Group reported a steep and unexpected decline in new-home sales for the Baltimore region during the second quarter. It said sales in the April-June period dropped 44 percent compared with sales in this year's first three months, twice the typical rate of decline from the first to the second quarter.

Nationally, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported yesterday that sales of existing homes rose a modest 1 percent in the three months that ended in June. But for Maryland, the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for such homes fell 2.8 percent, the NAR said.

"It's a confused picture," said Brandon Gaines, past president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.

"You've got a lot of anxious sellers who want to end this process and get moving," said Mr. Gaines, a partner at W.H.C. Wilson & Co. of Roland Park. "On the buying side, you see the buyer who is trying to steal property. Even though the fat has been cut out of the prices, some buyers are still trying to take another 20 percent off."

Fluctuations in consumer confidence have translated into a roller-coaster ride for the real estate market, said Wesley Foster, president of Long & Foster, a Virginia-based real estate chain with more than half of its 132 offices in Maryland.

"It's been a little bit start-stop," said Mr. Foster, adding that job anxieties and scaling down by defense contractors have been important factors in the local market.

With demand weak relative to the number of homes for sale, prices have fallen in some communities even though mortgage rates are at a 20-year low, Mr. Foster said.

"The appreciation in the cost of housing has died down and, in some cases there's been a little bit of depreciation," Mr. Foster said.

Yesterday's report by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors showed that sales of new and existing homes settled during July were up 1,699 compared with the same period last year. The number of residential units under contract increased 4 percent, to 1,419, in July. The figures exclude Anne Arundel County, which has its own realty board and has not reported July figures.

The Legg Mason Realty Group found second-quarter weakness in new-home sales in all parts of the metropolitan area except Baltimore.

"Compared to the first quarter, sales were off between 42 and 56 percent for five of the region's six jurisdictions. Baltimore City actually reported an increase in sales from 59 in the first quarter to 72 in the second quarter," Legg Mason's Robert Lefenfeld said.

The Odenton-Crofton area "continues to be the hottest in the Baltimore region, with 333 second-quarter sales, 17 percent of the region's total," Mr. Lefenfeld said. The second-hottest area was northwest Baltimore County, which recorded 277 sales in the second quarter, he said.

What's that house go for?

Based on a survey of existing single-family homes, botdetached and attached, in 127 metropolitan areas for the second-quarter.

Most expensive

1) Honolulu. .. .... . .......... .. .. .. .. .. .. $339,500

2) San Francisco. .. .. ........................... $262,000

3) Anaheim, Calif.. .. ................ ........... $238,100

4) Los Angeles. ................................... $216,000

5) Newark, N.J... .... . ... ... . . . . .......... $188,900

6) Bergen, N.J.. .. . . . .. . . . . .............. $188,200

7) San Diego. ..................................... $185,200

8) New York. ... ...... ........................... $174,500

*

31) BALTIMORE.......... ................ .. .. .. ..$113,300

120) South Bend, Ind. .................. $53,500

Beaumont, Texas.................... $62,200

122) Biloxi, Miss.. ......... .......... $61,400

123) Oklahoma City, Okla.. ............. $60,000

124) Peoria, Ill... ....... ............ $60,000

125) Youngstown, Ohio................... $59,300

126) Amarillo, Texas.................... $58,700

127) Cedar Falls, Iowa. .. ............. $46,200

Biggest price change

1) Richland, Wash.. ........+21.7%2

2) Spokane,Wash.............+19.7%

3) Topeka, Kan.. . .. ..... +18.0%

4) Sioux Falls, S.D........ +13.3%

5) Cedar Rapids,Iowa. ......+12.7%

6) Portland, Ore.. .........+12.6%

7) Akron, Ohio. ........... +11.3%

8)Corpus Christi,Texas.. .. +10.9%

*

61) BALTIMORE .. ... .. .. ..+4.2%

120) Springfield, Mass. ...... ....... ... .. ..-2.2%

Sacramento, Calif......................... -2.4%

122) San Francisco. ........................... -3.1%

123) Los Angeles. ............................. -3.6%

124) Providence, R.I.. ........................ -3.7%

125) Hartford, Conn.. . ....................... -4.8%

126) Jackson, Miss............................. -5.1%

127) Trenton, N.J.. ..... .................... .-8.6%

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