After more than a year, Baltimore-area housing market shows signs of cooling

After more than a year of dizzying demand, the Baltimore-area real estate market is showing signs of cooling down.

Fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, housing prices skyrocketed in Maryland and elsewhere as supply dipped to record lows. National worker shortages, construction pauses and high materials costs all contributed to the phenomenon.


The market faced uncertainty starting in mid-March 2020, when the pandemic stopped the economy in its tracks and forced people to stay home. But the real estate market rebounded quickly by early summer, with prices increasing and properties selling in single-digit time periods and often out of bidding wars.

But in September, demand for homes decreased, according to Bright MLS, the region’s multiple listing service. The company uses a tool called the T3 Home Demand Index to measure demand and found that the number of people seeking out homes fell more than 6% in a month and 12% since last year.


That drop could reflect changing consumer attitudes toward the market, said Lisa Sturtevant, a consulting economist to Bright MLS.

“We’re getting to a point now where affordability is hitting buyers,” Sturtevant said. “We’re seeing those price points are getting to a point where they’re putting housing out of reach for some buyers.”

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

Median sales prices

The median sales price for Baltimore-area homes reached $340,200 in September, up more than 6% from a year ago but down slightly from August, according to data provided by MarketStats by ShowingTime based on listing activity from Bright MLS. Median means half the homes sold for more than $340,200, and half sold for less.

Some counties saw higher median sales prices than the overall median, including Howard ($450,000), Carroll ($405,000) and Anne Arundel ($415,000) counties, yet only Howard County’s median decreased from September 2020, but only by about 2%.

Median price growth was highest in Baltimore County at 15.1% to $305,000 over a year ago, and Baltimore City, up 10.5% to $210,000 since last year.

Closed sales

Sales are up slightly from September 2020 and up nearly 24% from two years prior, before the pandemic. There were 4,255 total sales last month in the Baltimore metro area.

Fall and winter tend to be slower months for sales than spring and summer, but the decline is slightly less pronounced this year, according to Bright MLS.


Townhome and condo sales are up about 4% each from a year ago, while single-family, detached homes were down a modest 1.1%. This is likely indicative of availability, as single-family home listings were down by about 10% from last year while condo and townhome listings were up.

Sturtevant said attached homes also tend to sell at lower prices, which may be a draw for weary buyers.

“People are shifting to condos and townhomes that weren’t in such demand last year,” she said. “People are feeling pressure in terms of affordability.”

Median days on market

Homes spent a median of eight days on the market last month, which is down one day from a year ago but up a day from August.

Howard, Harford and Baltimore counties had medians of seven days, and Carroll County had a median of six. Baltimore City’s median stood at 14, which is down from 18 days a year before and from 35 days pre-pandemic.

The market may be slowing some, but it still is considered much more active than it was pre-pandemic, Sturtevant said.


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“We’ve been in this crazy housing market for so long,” she said, “we forget what the normal housing market looks like.”

More than half of all homes in the Baltimore region sold in 10 days or less, according to MLS.


Months of supply is still down from a year ago but has made some gains from pandemic lows.

But the situation remains bleak: If homes continued to sell at this pace, it would take a little more than 30 days for inventory to run out.

New listings were down slightly more than 3% from a year ago, and the number dipped about 8% from August to September. This, again, can be attributed to seasonality but also the supply woes that threaten to rid the market of affordable options for entry-level or low-income buyers.

Sturtevant said five to six months of inventory used to be indicative of a healthy housing market. But the old standards may not apply in a post-pandemic world.


“We’re moving into a new normal,” she said.