Home sales off 9.3% in region last year, but prices jumped

REAL ESTATE WATCH

February 08, 2004

New-home sales in the Baltimore region fell 9.3 percent last year, according to new data, but prices grew by double digits.

Sales of new homes last year totaled 6,143 - 632 fewer than in 2002, according to the Meyers Group, a real estate information and consulting firm that tracks sales.

The average sales price rose 27.2 percent to $243,763 for attached homes and 15.1 percent to $379,306 for detached homes.

Builders attribute the sales decline to a lack of available land for residential construction.

Several builders have expressed concerns about local land-use policies, arguing that development limits by the state and several local jurisdictions have pushed property prices to all-time highs.

And, builders said, demand remains strong for new housing.

John Kortecamp, executive vice president for the Home Builders Association of Maryland, said builders are concerned about finding lots - they have potential customers but little land on which to build.

"Unless we allocate more land for residential construction, the picture is going to remain as it is or, in fact, get worse," Kortecamp said.

- Tracy Swartz

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