Home sales gain in Md.

Annualized rate rose 1.3% in second quarter

Baltimore-area values up

Sales in region fell 4% in July, however

August 25, 2002|By Andrew D. Faith | Andrew D. Faith,SUN STAFF

Strong demand and favorable affordability conditions kept total existing-home sales in Maryland at high levels in the second quarter, the National Association of Realtors reports.

The state's annualized rate of sales was 115,600 in the second quarter, up 1.3 percent from the 113,500 annual rate recorded in the second quarter last year, the association reported.

Maryland is among 34 states and the District of Columbia posting increases, according to the association.

But data from the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems suggest that the demand for existing houses has started to decline in the Baltimore region in the third quarter.

The total number of houses sold in the region last month was 3,498, down 4.01 percent from last year's 3,644, and the number of days houses remained on the market averaged 58 this year, up from 52 last year.

In number of houses sold in the region, only Baltimore registered a gain from July of last year. Sales increased 10.69 percent in the city, from 720 last year to 797 this year.

Harford, Anne Arundel, Howard, Carroll and Baltimore counties registered declines in the number of houses sold last month.

The value of residential real estate sales in the Baltimore region rose last month to $666,646,770, up 4.14 percent from last year's $640,151,821.

The average selling price was $190,579, up 8.49 percent from $175,673 in July last year.

The National Association of Realtors survey found that nationwide, the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for existing single-family homes, apartment condominiums and co-operative homes totaled 6.37 million units in the second quarter.

That was up 4.4 percent from the 6.11 million-unit pace in the second quarter of last year.

Total sales rose by double-digit rates in nine states in the second quarter compared with last year's quarter. Fourteen states reported declining resale rates, and two states reported no change.

David Lereah, the association's chief economist, said a slowing trend is expected.

"After the record surge in the first quarter - which got a boost from unseasonably mild weather - it was clear existing-home sales wouldn't stay at unprecedented high marks, but we are seeing the market coasting at somewhat lower but still historically high levels of sales activity," he said.

Solid housing market fundamentals including low mortgage interest rates, the needs of a growing population and generally good employment mean that home sales activity will continue to be strong and beneficial for the overall economy.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was 6.82 percent in the second quarter, down from 6.97 percent in the first quarter; it was 7.13 percent in the second quarter of last year.

The Business Wire news service contributed to this article.

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