Home sales rose 14% in unusually brisk Dec.

January 07, 1994|By Ellen James Martin | Ellen James Martin,Staff Writer

After a sluggish start, the residential real estate market ended the year with a bang.

Baltimore-area home sales rose 14 percent in December, compared with the same month last year, the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors said yesterday.

"We're very encouraged by these figures, which are uncharacteristic for this time of year," said board president Nancy C. Hubble.

For the year, home sales rose 3 percent, compared with 1992. That may not seem like much, but it's pretty good considering last spring's market doldrums.

For the first half of the year, sales were down 6 percent. But sales in the second half surged 13 percent -- helped in part by the lowest mortgage rates in 25 years.

Economists and real estate executives say the improving economy also has pushed home sales.

"We're starting to see job growth in Maryland for the first time in three years," said Michael Conte, director of the regional economic studies program at the University of Baltimore.

The number of home sales that settled in December increased 14 percent, to 1,845. For the same period, pending sales increased 17 percent, to 1,031. Pending sales are contracts submitted but not closed.

The value of all homes sold in December was up 16 percent, to $237 million, compared with the same month last year. The average price of a home sold in December rose 1 percent, to $128,648.

Sales were up 36 percent in Harford County, 27 percent in Carroll County, 19 percent in Baltimore County and 14 percent in the city. Sales were down 5 percent in Howard County.

The figures are for sales of new and existing homes as reported to the Central Maryland Multiple Listing Service, a subsidiary of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors. The data includes sales Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Carroll counties.

Sales for Anne Arundel County, which are tracked by the Anne Arundel County Association of Realtors, are expected to be released next week.

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