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Baltimore housing market inventory dips under month’s supply after record-breaking year

The Baltimore metro area has less than a month’s supply of homes for sale as both buyers and sellers continue to capitalize on the economic conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The region’s housing stock has dipped to a decade low, a sign that the laws of supply and demand will continue to push home values upward. Last month, the region saw a median sale price of $306,000, a high for the month of December in the past decade, according to data provided by MarketStats by ShowingTime based on listing activity from Bright MLS.

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The public health crisis has devastated certain sectors of the economy and boosted others, including housing. Mortgage interest rates have plummeted to record lows, bringing more buyers to the market by making borrowing more affordable. And inventory shortages have created more competition for available properties, with many selling over the initial asking price and out of bidding wars, making affordable housing options more scarce.

Furthering the market’s trends, construction and renovation projects have stalled due to widespread materials and appliance shortages. And some sellers who might have started the relocation process last year opted out of listing their homes given the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19.

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Still, “2020 overall was a historic year for the real estate industry in the Baltimore metro area”, Bright MLS President and CEO Brian Donnellan said. “The region reported $15.7 billion in sales, as homes up for sale went under contract in just under two weeks.”

A total of 4,046 closed sales took place in December, up 28% from a year ago and 5.5% from November, according to MLS. Some 44,860 total homes closed in 2020, up 9.8% compared with the year before, MLS reported.

December’s $306,000 median price, while a high for the month, was lower than that of November, when median prices reached $322,000. Homes in the region spent a median of nine days on the market, up from eight days in November but 33 days fewer than this same time last year, MLS figures show.

Certain counties and towns beat the nine-day median. Harford and Howard counties, for example, saw a median of seven days on the market. Abingdon, in Harford, reported a median of just five days on the market.

Homes in Howard County, the most expensive county in the metro area, sold at a median price of $440,000. It is followed by Anne Arundel County, with a median of $382,000, and Carroll County, with a median of $349,000.

Homes in Baltimore City spent a median of 19 days on the market, 17 days fewer than December 2019. Yet, more city homes sold last month than in any December in the past decade, and the year saw 9,476 total purchases — another decade high, according to a fact sheet provided by Live Baltimore. The city’s marketing arm reported a median price point of $174,000, up from $154,000 a year before.

“This is an incredibly positive starting point for the new year,” said Annie Milli, Live Baltimore’s executive director. “We’re pleased to see sales in 246 of our diverse neighborhoods. Baltimore City continues to be an affordable place for homebuyers, and we’re looking forward to continuing to attract buyers with a strong market in 2021.”

Days on the market and median sales prices are expected to trend upward in January, when the housing market typically slows in Maryland. Activity tends to start picking up again in the springtime, though 2020′s seasonal surge started later due to the public health crisis.

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