June home sales: Good news, bad news

Sellers waiting for some sign of housing-market recovery might be excused for cheering at the news Friday that sale prices in the Baltimore metro area were up 5 percent in June. Five percent! The biggest year-over-year jump since '07!

But hang on, folks. If ever a month should be slapped with the "past performance does not guarantee future results" label, June was it.


Until a last-minute act of Congress extended the deadline, June was the final month to close on a sale and still qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit worth up to $8,000. Economists figure the price pop here and in other parts of the country is more one-off than trend.

More in today's housing-market story.


Contracts -- pending sales -- give us a glimpse at the near future. The deadline for signing a contract came and went April 30, and in May, new deals were down more than 30 percent from a year earlier. June's year-over-year drop in newly signed contracts was a still sizable but less steep 17 percent.

On the upside: About 430 more buyers signed contracts in June than in May. Of course, the bar wasn't set high. With so many buyers incentivized to sign by April 30, May activity was low -- 2,110 fewer contracts than the month before. May: about 1,840 new pending deals. April: about 3,950.

A few more notable numbers from June, as reported by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems:

Homes that sold were on the market for 100 days on average, 21 days less than homes selling a year earlier.

Sellers got closer to their asking prices than they did a year ago. But not that close -- just under 92 percent, compared with a bit over 90 percent in June 2009. (I'd be curious to see that stat broken out just for the under-$250,000 homes, the sort first-timers are more likely to buy.)

The average sale price cracked $300,000 for the first time in months.

Homes newly listed for sale outnumbered homes newly under contract more than two to one.

You can find the raw numbers here. Anything catch your eye?