Home prices and sales surged in September as the Baltimore region's real estate market came closer to full recovery from the housing crisis.
More than 3,200 homes sold in Baltimore and its five surrounding counties in September, up 8 percent from a year ago, according to a monthly report released Tuesday by ShowingTime RBI. It was the highest level of activity for the month in a decade.
The median sales price jumped about 8 percent from last year, climbing to $253,670 — the biggest year-over-year gain for any month since 2012. The median was about 4 percent less than the September record set in 2007, according to the report, which is based on data from the MRIS regional listing service.
September's appreciation follows gains that started earlier this year, as inventory tightened and the region's high number of distressed sales began to subside slowly. Not including foreclosures or short sales, the median price increased about 3 percent last month from September 2015.
With interest rates remaining low and family incomes starting to increase, more buyers are coming to the table, said Jonathan Hill, a marketing officer for MRIS.
"It looks like people are trying to take advantage of prices before they increase further," Hill said. "There seems to be a lot of demand."
Though the number of active listings has tightened, sellers are taking note of the price gains too.
In Anne Arundel County, 81-year-old Perry Weed put his three bedroom Anne Arundel County townhome on the market last month. The retired attorney, who follows the economy closely, said he and his wife plan to move to Tennessee to be closer to family, but price gains also played a role in shaping their timing.
"I think we're at the top and if I'm going to realize the maximum value in my home, now's the time to do it," Weed said.
All six jurisdictions in the Baltimore metropolitan area saw growth in sales and prices. Baltimore County had the biggest annual appreciation, with the median price climbing 14 percent to $227,750. Sales volume increased about 5 percent.
Carroll County followed. There, the median price jumped 11 percent year-over-year, reaching $294,000. Sales increased 11 percent.
In Baltimore City the median price was $123,000, up 10 percent from September 2015, while sales also rose about 11 percent.
In Anne Arundel County, the median price was $315,900, up 9 percent from September 2015. Sales climbed 7 percent.
The median price in Harford County rose 6.6 percent year-over-year, to $239,750. Sales jumped more than 22 percent.
Howard County remained the most expensive jurisdiction in the region. There was little change in sales, while the median price rose 4 percent from last year, reaching $385,000.
Homes in the region typically sat on the market about 36 days, with the pace varying from 28 days in Howard County to more than 40 in Carroll and Harford counties.
"The market's continuing to go up but it's still somewhat selective," said Joseph "Jody" T. Landers III, a Baltimore real estate agent. "I think what's helped is interest rates have stayed low and people seem to be a little more optimistic."