Home of choice in 1998 was 4-bedroom hous

Baltimore-area buyers preferred existing units in the $200,000 range

February 28, 1999|By ROBERT NUSGART | ROBERT NUSGART,SUN REAL ESATE EDITOR

Baltimore-area buyers preferred existing units in the $200,000 range

What style of home did Baltimore-area buyers seek the most, yet was the hardest to find during the real estate boom of 1998?

In year-end statistics released by the Metropolitan Regional Information System, the home of choice was a four-bedroom unit that sells in the $200,000 range.

Overall, the Baltimore metropolitan area saw existing-home sales in 1998 increase by 20 percent over 1997, making it one of the best years for the industry in decades. The resounding cry from Realtors as the year progressed was over a lack of inventory, particularly in the four-bedroom niche.

``It turned into a seller's market in certain price ranges from $220,000 to $270,000,'' said Pat Hiban of Re/Max Advantage Realty in Ellicott City. ``You couldn't find anything, and it's still hard to find something good.

``As soon as the market got good, all the good houses in good condition got swiped. We kept seeing the same agents and the same buyers. Everybody was looking at the same thing.''

Howard County saw a 30 percent increase in sales of four-bedroom homes priced between $200,000 and $299,999. But jump to the next level - $300,000 to $399,999 - and sales soared 79 percent over the 1997 numbers.

Buyers paid a premium. The average sales price for a four-bedroom, single-family detached home in Howard County grew to $268,284 from $256,833 in 1997, an increase of almost 4.5 percent.

Other jurisdictions saw similar statistics for the four-bedroom home.

In Anne Arundel, there was a 58 percent increase in sales for homes in the $200,000 to $249,999 price range, and the average sales price grew to $253,606 from $247,218, a 2.6 percent increase.

Harford County also sold more upscale, four-bedroom homes last year vs. 1997, recording 83 sales vs. 48 in the $250,000 to $299,999 range. Also, the average sales price for a home rose from $191,020 in 1997 to $198,790, a 4 percent gain. More dramatic was the selling price of a four-bedroom townhouse, which jumped 12.6 percent from $97,586 in 1997 to $109,883 last year.

Baltimore County had a 48 percent increase in sales of four-bedroom homes priced from $250,000 to $399,999. The county's average sales price climbed to $234,846 from $226,407, an increase of 3.7 percent.

Carroll County rose 55 percent in the $200,000 to $249,999 bracket, and the number of sales almost doubled (58 in 1997 vs. 115 in 1998) on homes selling between $250,000 to $299,999. Yet Carroll was the only county where the price of a four-bedroom home dipped, dropping from $203,573 to $202,651.

The city showed a 23 percent increase in home sales in the $200,000 and $299,999 bracket.

About the statistics

The 1998 detailed housing tables for Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Carroll, Howard, Baltimore and Harford counties were provided by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

The statistics include all homes that were purchased through the multiple listing systems.

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