Maryland home sales show gain of 18.5 percent in May

June 16, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

Home sales in Maryland jumped 18.5 percent in May, increasing in nearly all counties and reflecting a surge of buyers who signed sales contracts during the early spring.

But Realtors expect the brisk sales pace to slow in coming months because of recent increases in interest rates and a typically slower summer season.

The number of new and existing-home sales settled last month rose to 4,660, from 3,931 in May 1993, the Maryland Association of Realtors said yesterday.

In metropolitan Baltimore, sales in May had climbed 27 percent, the largest percentage in nearly 1 1/2 years, according to a separate report released earlier by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.

"We're still riding a very strong market, but one that has slowed up from the early spring," said Arthur Davis III, president of the Maryland association.

While buyers rushed to submit contracts in February and March, pending sales figures are likely to drop off because that pace slackened in April, Mr. Davis said.

.2l Sales heated up in early spring as buyers rushed to beat rising interest rates and others began house-hunting after a harsh winter.

After falling to 28-year lows of below 7 percent late last summer, interest rates reached close to 9 percent last month, but they were down to 8.37 percent last week.

"Even though rates have gone up, they're still palatable," Mr. Davis said. "When you're under 9 [percent], that's a strong mortgage market. Historically, these rates are very good. People pull back when it gets to 10 [percent]."

The average price of a home in Maryland rose from $124,763 in May 1993 to $133,559 last month.

Sales rose or remained level in all counties but Anne Arundel, where they fell 15 percent. Sales there should pick up as buyers seeking waterfront property for the summer enter the market, he said.

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