Like temperatures, sales of homes on rise this winter Metro area posts 30% gain in February in existing housing

Real estate

March 11, 1998|By Robert Nusgart | Robert Nusgart,SUN STAFF

It may be winter, but the spring real estate market is in full bloom, with sales of existing homes in the Baltimore metropolitan market for February jumping 30 percent from the same time period last year.

Activity was especially vigorous in Baltimore and Carroll County, where sales climbed 66.5 percent and 70 percent respectively, according to statistics released by the Metropolitan Regional Information System and the Anne Arundel County Multiple List System. Baltimore recorded 373 sales compared with 224 in February last year, and Carroll jumped to 117 sales from 69.

"The fact that we have low interest rates that have continued to stay low, and that combined with the mild weather we've been having allows for more showing opportunities we're just seeing the buyers coming out," said Stanley Dill, manager of the O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA Hampstead office in Carroll County.

In the Baltimore area, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is at 7.17 percent, according to the most recent survey of area lenders by HSH Associates, a New Jersey firm that tracks and analyzes interest rates nationwide. That figure represents a slight increase from the year's low point of 6.89 percent, recorded in mid-January.

"It just seems that spring started the day after New Year's and it hasn't abated yet," said William Cassidy, manager of the Fells Point office for Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.

The surge in sales wasn't restricted to only the city and Carroll County. Every jurisdiction showed an increase. According to Pamela Youngblood, spokeswoman for the Maryland Association of Realtors, the state had a 25 percent increase in sales when compared to February last year.

In the metropolitan area:

Sales in Anne Arundel County were up 30 percent.

Harford County gained 20 percent.

Baltimore County was up 13 percent.

Howard County increased 11 percent.

The gains represent the sixth straight month of higher sales in the area.

"In January, my office had 50 sales," Cassidy said. "In February, considering the short month, we had 53 sales. I just told [Long & Foster President] Wes Foster my pace for this month [March] is two a day "

Pub Date: 3/11/98

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