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Demand for Baltimore-area homes continues to slow but is still considered high

Demand for Baltimore-area housing slowed in October for a second consecutive month, a sign that the regional real estate market could be settling back to pre-pandemic norms.

Still, demand for homes in Baltimore and its surrounding counties is considered high, and October 2021 closed sales eclipsed October 2019 numbers, according to data provided by MarketStats by ShowingTime based on listing activity from Bright MLS, the regional multiple listing service. Home prices, while easing, remain higher compared with previous years.

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National labor shortages, construction and manufacturing delays, and high materials costs all contributed to rising prices, which peaked earlier this year at a median of $355,000. Baltimore, long considered an affordable housing market, has been subject to the same pandemic-driven demand frenzy as other places as consumers shifted to more remote work patterns and changed how they spent money.

Bright MLS’s demand measurement tool, called its T3 Home Demand Index, rated the Baltimore metro area’s demand as “moderate,” and its overall score declined about 2% from the previous month. Compared with last October, the rating fell more by more than 12.5%, according to MLS.

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Here are additional insights extracted from October’s Bright MLS housing market update:

Median sales price

The median sales price in the Baltimore area stood at $335,000 last month, about 5% higher than during this time last year and nearly 20% greater than in October 2019. Median means half of homes sold for more and half sold for less.

The high prices indicate that sellers continue to fare well despite the drop-off in demand, which could be attributed to seasonality. Spring and early summer are typically the most active months for home buying in the Baltimore area, though the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the start of the “busy season” last year by a few months and also extended it.

Home prices rose the most in Baltimore City, where the $210,000 median sales price marked a 14% jump from the year before and a 36% increase from 2019. Howard County followed with a median of $495,000, an increase of 13% over October 2020 and 23.8% from two years ago.

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Baltimore County ($299,000) and Harford County ($311,000) had median sales prices below the region’s, while Anne Arundel’s ($415,000) and Carroll’s ($387,800) exceeded it.

Closed sales

There were 3,943 closed sales in the Baltimore metro area, a nearly 10% decrease from the year before, which likely reflects the initial surge in the market during the public health crisis. But sales were up 24% from October 2019, signifying the lasting impact that record-low inventory rates, limited supply and high demand continue to have on the area.

Sales were down slightly since September, which had more than 4,200 closed sales.

Buying activity was strongest in Baltimore County, which saw 1,060 sales last month, followed by Anne Arundel County (950), Baltimore City (899), Howard County (424), Harford County (370) and Carroll County (240). Buying activity slowed across the metro area compared with the previous month.

Median days on market

The median number of days homes spent on the market crept upward to nine, one day more than September’s median.

That’s still low compared with October 2019 numbers, where homes sold at a median pace of 30 days.

More than half of all homes in the Baltimore metro area, 52%, sold in 10 days or fewer last month, according to MLS.

Across the metro area, the median edged up slightly from the month before, except in Harford County (seven days) and Baltimore City (14), where the median stayed the same. Homes in Carroll, Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties sold at median paces of seven, eight, nine and 10 days, respectively.

Inventory

Supply levels remained mostly unchanged from September to October. There is a little over one month’s supply available throughout the metro area, which means all homes could be purchased in a little over 30 days if consumers maintained this pace.

Inventory has been at over six months’ supply in the past decade, according to MLS, which is considered a healthy volume. Even before the pandemic, supply had been declining, reaching less than two months’ volume by October 2019.

Housing advocates and real estate experts say the inventory challenge could make buying a home less accessible for entry-level buyers as well as those who need affordable options. In the Baltimore area, supply is lowest for mid-priced, single-family homes and lower-priced condos and higher for higher-priced single-family homes and condos, where demand also remains “strong,” according to MLS.

This article may be updated.

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