The Ritz-Carlton Residences alongside Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences alongside Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Homes selling for less than $100,000 in the Baltimore region outnumber those going for more than $1 million by a whopping 14 to 1. But sales on the low end are shrinking as the high end grows.

About 1,850 homes sold for under $100k in the first half of this year, down 20 percent from a year earlier. The 130 homes that sold for more than $1 million? Up 20 percent.

That's according to figures from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' RealEstate Business Intelligence arm, which tracks sales made through the multiple-listing service.

Fewer foreclosures -- a lot fewer -- are driving the drop in lower-priced homes. In Baltimore, home to many of the region's under-$100,000 sales, bank-owned sales were down 60 percent from a year earlier. (This is definitely a "past performance is no guarantee of future results" situation. More on the shadow inventory here.)

So what's going on at the other price extreme? Luxury real estate brokers told CNBC that this is the "Year of Capitulation," with sellers of high-end homes deciding not to wait any longer for prices to get back to earlier heights.

The substantially bigger capital-gains tax bill that sellers could get next year if the Bush tax cuts expire could be one of the factors, RealtyTrac told CNBC. (The New York Times has a real-life example of the potential cost difference in this story.)

The top sale in our region in the first half of this year was on Harness Creek Road in Annapolis. It went for $5.1 million, down from an asking price of almost $6 million. The property, which sits alongside the South River, comes with a pool and private pier. 

No. 2, on Bayfields Road in Harwood (also along the water in Anne Arundel County), went for just shy of $5 million. The sellers had been asking $5.2 million. Besides a pier and pool, it has a boathouse, a tennis court, a croquet court and a guest cottage.

Rounding out the top three: a home on Westwood Road in Annapolis that changed hands for almost $4.9 million. The asking price was nearly $5.5 million.

That home sits on the Severn River, with features -- besides the inevitable pier -- that include a conservatory, a workshop, a tub big enough for "2+" and an immediate starting point for post-sale changes. As the listing delicately put it: "Home in need of new kitchen and baths."

That's something it has in common with many of the under-$100,000 homes. (Though presumably not to this extent.)

Got a housing news tip or experience to share? (Or just want to tell me something?) Email me at jhopkins@baltsun.com.