Jan. house sales fall 22% in county from a year ago

February 21, 1993|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

A regional report on residential real estate found that home sales plummeted about 22 percent last month in Harford County from the level reported for January 1992.

The county's decline in homes sales is less than that recorded for the metropolitan region.

Compiled by the Central Maryland Multiple Listing Service, the report showed 122 units were contracted to be sold in Harford County in January, compared with 158 units during the corresponding period last year.

Last month, the metropolitan area jurisdictions of Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Carroll counties and Baltimore had an overall sales decline of 28 percent. Sales were off 3 percent in Howard County, 25 percent in Baltimore County, 26 percent in Carroll County and 4 percent in Baltimore.

Anne Arundel County is not included in the Central Maryland Multiple Listing Service.

While sales figures declined, settlements for the same period rose nearly 22 percent with 134 units last month compared with 109 last January. For all of 1992, house resales for Harford rose 9 percent over 1991.

The listing service also showed the median price of a house settled last month rosed to $128,722 from $127,284 in January 1992.

Nationally, housing starts fell 7.2 percent in January to the lowest level in six months, according to the Commerce Department.

Some housing analysts attributed the decline in part to bad weather.

Housing starts rose only in the South in January, and plunged by double-digit percentages in the Northeast and West.

Analysts noted that mortgage rates are at 20-year lows, and banks report brisk business in writing loans for new and resale houses, as well as to refinance mortgages at lower rates.

Inventories of new houses available in the county are up 13 percent. Nearly 1,600 houses were listed for sale over the 1,400 listed at the end of January 1992.

Across the country, applications for building permits, which some economists consider a barometer of future activity, also were down in January. They dropped 10.1 percent, to a 1.18 million rate, after rising 6.7 percent in December.

Housing starts plunged 24.1 percent in the Northeast, to a 123,000 rate. It was the largest decline since a 28 percent drop in July 1991.

They were off 21.6 percent in the West, to a 222,000 rate. That was the biggest decline since a 22 percent drop in October 1990. The rate was the lowest since 192,000 in March 1991.

Starts also fell in the Midwest, down 4.2 percent to a 277,000 rate.

The South bucked the trend, rising 3.4 percent to a 570,000 annual rate. That was the highest level since 575,000 in July 1990.

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