New-home sales in Baltimore area up 19 percent Interest rates fuel third-quarter gains

November 13, 1992|By David Conn | David Conn,Legg Mason Realty GroupStaff Writer

Baltimore area new-home sales rose in the third quarter, but the residential real estate market still has a long way to go before it matches its pre-recession performance.

Still, the 19 percent increase in sales of new homes compared with the second quarter provided some welcome news to the real estate industry and the businesses whose fortunes are tied to it.

Legg Mason Realty Group Inc., a unit of Legg Mason Inc., reported that 2,297 new homes were sold in the three months that ended Sept. 30. That compared with 1,937 sales in the second quarter, ordinarily a more brisk period for real estate agents.

"It's been sort of an up-and-down, rocky year," said Robert Lefenfeld, vice president of the realty group. "But we are moving units."

The report includes sales of homes only in subdivisions with at least 20 houses.

He said the increased sales pace in the third quarter was spurred by the continued drop in interest rates, which makes mortgage loans less expensive. "People are no longer just seasonally set up like, 'I'll sell my house in the spring, move in the summer and enroll my kids in school in the fall,' " Mr. Lefenfeld said.

"They're more likely to go to a home acquisition because mortgage rates are down."

The Legg Mason report was not unalloyed good news, however.

Sales were only marginally higher than the third quarter of 1991, according to the survey, and they were down more than 50 percent from the first quarter.

In the first three months of the year, 3,480 new homes were sold in the Baltimore region, which includes the city and the five surrounding counties, Legg Mason reported.

The median price of a new home in the region fell $2,000, to $168,317, the report said. The reason was that more new housing subdivisions cropped up, selling homes under $200,000.

"Less expensive homes, wherever they are, are doing better than the more expensive ones," said Mary Grempler, chairman of Towson-based Grempler Realty Inc. The Legg Mason report, she said, was "very encouraging."

The most popular houses in the region were single-family detached homes, with 1,061 third-quarter sales. And & 2/3 Crofton/Odenton and Northwest Baltimore County (which vTC includes Owings Mills) continue to outperform most other market areas.

HOTTEST SELLERS

Market areas with the most new home sales in subdivisions of 20 homes or more in the third quarter.

Odenton/Crofton 346

Edgewood/Joppa 253

Northwest Balt. County 230

Perry Hall/White Marsh 180

Annapolis/

Southern Anne Arundel

Kent Island 177

Columbia 170

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