July home sales in the Baltimore area: up

More homes sold last month in the Baltimore metro area than a year earlier, according to numbers just released by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. It's the second month in a row of increasing sales -- and the first time that's happened since the go-go days of 2005.

This ain't '05, of course. Average prices fell 6.8 percent in July, to just under $298,000. Four years ago, prices were rising at a 20 percent clip.

Prices fell across the Baltimore area in July, from 5.5 percent in Carroll County to almost 11 percent in Harford County.

But what about sales, you say? Buyers closed on 2,240 homes in the city and surrounding counties last month, up nearly 10 percent from a year earlier. That follows a 2 percent increase in June vs. the year before.

The increase wasn't quite universal. Home sales rose in the suburbs, particularly in Howard County (up 27 percent). But 8 percent fewer homes changed hands in the city last month, according to MRIS.

Do you think the federal government's first-time homebuyer tax credit is fueling sales? What will happen when the credit expires Nov. 30 -- assuming it's not extended?

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