While median home values and rents both have doubled over the last 10 years, some characteristics about Carroll remain virtually the same, says the 1990 U.S. census.

The county remains a bastion for married-couple households and detached, single-family homes. Carroll has the highest concentration of married-couple families -- 69.2 percent -- in the state. Its concentration of single-family homes is greater than all other Baltimore region jurisdictions.

The county also has yet to experience racial integration.

The once-per-decade population profile determines political representation and eligibility levels for state and federal assistance. It's also a basis for long-range

planning, development of social programs and public facilities and business relocation decisions.

Census figures show that the median value of an owner-occupied home in Carroll increased from $64,248 in 1980 to $126,700 in 1990, while the median rent climbed from $189 to $397 per month. The median means half the units are priced higher and half lower.

The median value of a Carroll home is higher than Baltimore and all but five of Maryland's 23 counties -- Anne Arundel, Calvert, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery. Thestate's median home value is $116,500.

Rapidly escalating Carrollland values over the last decade -- spurred by the construction of Interstate 795 -- largely account for the dramatic increase in appraisals. A preference for single-family homes on sizable lots has escalated values and contributed to the county's affordable-housing shortage.

Also, Carroll's zoning plan designed to preserve farmland and the shortage of public water and sewer systems make it prohibitive to construct town houses and apartments outside municipalities.

In 1980, 93.7 percent of homes were valued at less than $100,000, compared to 26 percent in 1990; less than 1 percent of the homes were valued at more than $150,000 in 1980, compared to nearly 30 percent in 1990.

In Carroll, home values appreciated faster than in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties, signifying the ongoing transition from a rural enclave to a more suburban, bedroom community.

"Alot of that is catch-up," said Martin K. P. Hill, a prominent Carroll developer. "Land values previously were lower here so you could getmore house for less money. Carroll County is not going to have that price advantage much longer."

Single-family, detached homes comprise 75.5 percent of all housing units in Carroll, a higher percentage than any other Baltimore metropolitan county and Frederick County. Carroll is followed by Anne Arundel, with 66 percent; Frederick, 65.1; Harford, 62.7; Howard, 52; and Baltimore County, 47.6 percent.

Statewide, only Calvert County and three Eastern Shore countieshave a higher percentage of single-family, detached homes than Carroll.

"Because of the agricultural zoning and preservation, single-family homes were at one time the way to go," said Sylvia Gorman, president of the Carroll County Association of Realtors Inc. "Now it's not economically feasible because of lot prices. The product isn't here for the first-time homebuyer."

At 8.1 percent of the total housing stock, Carroll has the lowest percentage of town houses of the six counties. Baltimore County has the highest percentage, with 24.2 percent, followed by Howard, 20.3; Harford, 15.1; Anne Arundel, 14.6; and Frederick, 14.4 percent.

Multifamily dwelling units, such as duplexes or apartments, comprise 13.6 percent of Carroll's housing stock.

Of allCarroll households, 69.8 percent are occupied by married-couple families, a decline from 74.4 percent in 1980.

The trend showing migration to Carroll from surrounding areas -- the population increased from 96,356 to 123,372, or 28 percent -- has not extended to minorities. The percentage of blacks in the county declined from 2.9 percent in1980 to 2.4 percent. Statewide, only Allegany and Garrett counties have lower percentages of blacks. The median age of county residents increased from 30.7 to 33.3.

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