Baltimore home sales, prices rose in July as inventory constricted

Home sales and prices in the Baltimore region rose in July as housing inventory continued to dwindle, limiting buyers’ choices.

The sales of 3,589 properties closed in July, inching up 0.8 percent from the same month last year, according to a report released Thursday by the local multiple listing service.

The median sales price also inched up 0.9 percent, to $270,000, the MarketStats by Showing Time report said.

Prices in the Baltimore area have risen year-over-year for each of the past 17 months. In July, prices hit their highest level for that month in nearly a decade.

But the number of listings on the market fell for the 23rd consecutive month. Active listings declined 13.6 percent year-over-year, to 10,946, the report showed.

More than 5,000 new listings came onto the market in July, but homes continued to sell quickly. Inventories are below the five-year average of more than 12,500 properties.

“The lack of inventory is pulling a few more new listings on to the market, but [homes] are still being sold off in a way that the overall inventory is not growing,” said Andrew Strauch, a vice president with Bright MLS. “We’ve been inventory-starved for a while now.”

Baltimore city had the highest-percentage increase in new listings, adding 1,220 properties to the market, a nearly 10 percent jump. The increase likely was driven by a more than 7 percent increase in the median sales price from January to July this year compared to the first half of last year, Strauch said.

Sale prices are not rising more elsewhere in the region because, he said, “it looks like people are not willing to bid above a certain price. People bid to a certain point, but then back up.”

Despite a smaller pool of available homes, more buyers and sellers signed pending contracts last month than in any July in a decade, with 4,050 sales agreements signed, up 2.5 percent from last July.

Sellers got, on average, 96.5 percent of their asking prices, compared with the 95.8 percent of asking price sellers received in July 2016.

Homes were being snapped up, staying on the market for about 22 days, compared with a median of 26 days on the market in July 2016.

Home sale prices for July hit a peak of $275,000 in July 2008, then fell each year after through 2011 amid the housing crisis. July prices have mostly increased since then and have risen each year since 2014, data shows.

Prices increased the most for condos, rising 3.6 percent, to $216,614, while single-family home prices increased 1.7 percent, to $343,900. Townhouse prices declined less than 1 percent, to $210,000.

Median prices rose in every county last month except for Harford and Baltimore City.

Prices surged the most in Carroll County, where the median jumped 8.7 percent, to $320,000, in July, up from $294,500 in the same month last year.

In Baltimore County, homes sold for a median price of $241,950, up 6.6 percent from July 2016.

Median prices were up 3.6 percent in Howard County, to $430,000 and 3.4 percent in Anne Arundel County, to $334,000.

In Harford County, the median price dipped 3 percent, to $245,000; however, so far this year, the county’s median price is up 2.4 percent, to $243,250.

Baltimore City prices held essentially flat, slipping 0.4 percent, to $156,300.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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