Home sales in area leap 26.8% in July Numbers way up from July 1997 but down from June 1998

2,784 closings

Anne Arundel County, Baltimore post biggest increases

Real estate

August 12, 1998|By Robert Nusgart | Robert Nusgart,SUN STAFF

Although moderating from June's pace, sales of existing homes in the Baltimore metropolitan area continued their hot steak in July, jumping 26.8 percent compared with sales in the same month last year.

July's numbers, released yesterday by the Metropolitan Regional Information System and the Anne Arundel Multiple List, marked a year since sales began to move up. July also was the seventh consecutive month of double-digit increases when compared with sales in the same month of the previous year.

Although area real estate agents were pleased with the showing, the 2,784 sales in July were 10 percent fewer than the 3,108 in June.

Gilbert D. Marsiglia, president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said the slowdown results partly from "July and August being the two big vacation months, not only for agents, but for buyers and sellers."

Nevertheless, the statistics showed sales were higher in every jurisdiction than in July 1997.

Anne Arundel County showed the biggest increase, 31.6 percent, followed by Baltimore at 30.45 percent. Baltimore County was up 27.25 percent; Carroll County, 24.73 percent; Howard County, 22.74 percent; and Harford County, 16.4 percent.

"The market has been so stagnant for so many years that it's just on that upward swing," said Kathy Cooper of Re/Max Columbia.

Cooper, who has been selling for 17 years, primarily in Howard, Carroll and Baltimore counties, said the market has turned in the seller's favor. "I really think that we are heading into a seller's market. That's the only place for it to go at this point," she said. "We've been in a buyer's market for so long that it needs to go in that direction."

July's pending contracts, which indicate future activity, remained strong.

Pending contracts were 14 percent higher than in the same period last year, but Marsiglia cautioned that those heady double-digit monthly sales increases might taper off.

"It has to do with the fact that it wasn't all that wonderful last year," Marsiglia said.

"The market didn't really start to improve until the second half of '97. So you may not see the jumps as strong once we get into September and October, because we may be comparing with better figures."

Average selling prices in July were higher in four of the six jurisdictions than in July 1997. The average price in Baltimore County rose 12.4 percent, to $151,447 from $134,750.

In Howard, the average was $205,272, up 7.4 percent; in Carroll it rose 4.5 percent to $166,194; and in Harford it was up 2 percent to $145,707.

Prices in Anne Arundel and Baltimore were down a little less than 1 percent, to $194,488 and $84,378, respectively.

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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