Home sales in Baltimore off 15% in May Pending deals soar with better weather

June 05, 1993|By Ellen James Martin | Ellen James Martin,Staff Writer

The number of Baltimore-area home sales dipped 15 percent in May compared with the same month last year, the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors has reported.

But the board said a brighter picture of the spring market was evident in the statistics for the number of sales still pending in May. That figure reached 1,728, up 21 percent compared with a year earlier.

Michael Conte, regional economic studies program director at the University of Baltimore, blamed the delayed effect of unusually bad winter weather for the low figure for settled sales in May. It typically takes 60 to 120 days for a home sale that comes under contract to reach settlement.

"Settled sales for May reflected very, very bad weather in February and March," Mr. Conte said. In its report issued late Thursday, the Realtors group said 1,408 housing units reached settlement last month, compared with 1,672 a year ago.

But fortified by an improving economy as a whole, the housing market in Maryland and elsewhere continues to strengthen, in Mr. Conte's view.

"We continue to believe that we are in recovery and this is confirmed in light of the newly announced [U.S.] employment figures, which were positive," he said.

Also interpreting the latest housing figures in a positive way was Andrew J. A. Chriss, president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.

"The increase in the pending unit figure indicates that a late spring buying season has set in, reflecting units for which contracts were signed in March and April," he said.

The total dollar volume of settled residential sales for the month of May showed an 18 percent decrease, down to $171.8 million, compared with $210.8 million for the same month last year.

The average price of a home in May showed a 3 percent decrease, down to $122,038.

The figures represent sales of new and existing homes as reported to the Central Maryland Multiple Listing Service, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.

The data reflected activity in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford, Howard and Carroll counties.

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