Median home prices in the Baltimore region continue to climb despite the highest mortgage rates in more than two decades, according to a new report from the real estate firm Bright MLS.
The median home sales price in the Baltimore metropolitan region — meaning Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, plus Baltimore City — hit $385,000 in August, 4.6% higher than a year prior.
While higher mortgage rates make home loans more expensive, dampening demand from potential buyers, a persistent lack of inventory of homes for sale is pushing prices up, the report said.
Fewer homes are trading hands and listings are down, but when a home does hit the market, it typically sells within a week.
Still, to James Weiskerger, co-owner of the W Home Group of Next Step Realty in Timonium, the housing market is feeling less competitive overall. Weiskerger said he’s seeing fewer bids on homes and occasional price reductions. The seller still has the upper hand, he said, but the market is becoming more balanced.
“You can just sense the entire market as a whole is cooling down,” Weiskerger said. “There’s not as many shoppers out there.”
There’s less demand for homes at the upper and lower end of the price range, Weiskerger said, but a strategically priced home in the middle of the market still draws competition. Certain neighborhoods — especially in communities with desirable schools — are not being affected by the increase in interest rates, he said.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to happen in the next 12 months with these rates,” Weiskerger said.
The Evening Sun
The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is hovering above 7% nationally, the highest level since 2002.
Many homeowners either bought or refinanced in the past few years, nabbing historically low interest rates, Weiskerger said, and buying a bigger or slightly more expensive home could result in exponentially higher monthly payments now.
“Why would you move at that point?” he said.
Weiskerger said he feels confident about his business, describing it as a “smaller, boutique brokerage,” but his agents are closing about 25% fewer sales than they were a year ago. This is consistent with the Bright MLS data, and Weiskerger said the slowdown in sales could be problematic for other real estate professionals.
Bright MLS reported that sales closed on 2,903 homes in August, 22.1% fewer than a year earlier.
The National Association of Realtors had 1.37 million registered members on the eve of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. That number climbed until October 2022, peaking at 1.6 million. It’s tapered off since then, shedding about 30,000 members.
Median home prices in August 2023 across Baltimore compared with August 2022, according to Bright MLS:
- Baltimore City: $224,000, +4.2%
- Baltimore County: $341,675, +5.5%
- Anne Arundel County: $475,000, +6.6%
- Carroll County: $465,000, +9.8%
- Harford County: $360,000, +5.1%
- Howard County, $567,000, +4.6%