Home sales in area rose 7.5% in July But 1993 figures still trail last year's

August 07, 1993|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Staff Writer

Sales of Baltimore-area homes rose 7.5 percent in July as buyers, showing some confidence in the economy, took advantage of historically low interest rates, according to the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.

The number of homes settled in July was 1,827, compared with 1,699 in July 1992. The number of units under contract but not yet closed, however, remained relatively unchanged as of July 31, at 1,476, compared with 1,482 at the end of July last year.

Typically, it takes 60 to 120 days for a home sale under contract to reach settlement.

Although the figures for July showed an increase, the year-to-date sales in 1993 lagged behind last year's figures by 3.8 percent, with 9,801 units settled, compared with 10,184 in 1992.

"There's still some hesitancy in the market," said Robert Lefenfeld, senior vice president for Legg Mason Realty Group. "Low interest rates are truly sinking in to the public, but there isn't going to be a tremendous surge of activity."

Andrew J.A. Chriss, president of the Board of Realtors, suggested that sluggish sales in the winter and early spring accounted for the slight drop-off this year.

"It could have been a lack of confidence in the economy," he said. "It also could have been as simple as bad weather that kept people from looking for homes."

"Over the past few months, we've been quite happy with the results because they are showing some increases," Mr. Chriss said. "We don't expect to see a sudden surge. As long as we're seeing an increase, there must be some confidence in the economy."

The dollar volume of settled residential sales for July showed a 13.9 percent increase, to $247.6 million, compared with $217.3 million in July 1992. The average price of a home in July was up 6 percent, to $135,528, compared with $127,897 in 1992.

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