Howard County real estate sales are "back to a slowdow after the spring rush," according to Lynn Sherrock, a real estate agent in the Columbia office of Re/Max Advantage.
"Everything is selling, just a little slower," Ms. Sherrock said. To compete with builders who are offering deals on new homes, individual home sellers are aggressively marketing their homes by helping buyers with closing costs and financing.
Houses priced under $300,000 are selling well in Howard County, but there is only a small market for expensive homes on large lots, Ms. Sherrock said. "A lot of the buyers are empty-nesters. They don't want the traditional home," she said.
Just the opposite is happening in Carroll County, where there is suddenly a stronger market for larger homes priced over $180,000, according to Cliff Dull, owner and manager of Coldwell Banker/Cliff Dull & Associates in Westminster.
Mr. Dull said buyers are snapping up large farms as long-term investments and are leasing the land to farmers, while sales of moderately priced houses selling from $120,000 to $180,000 are slowly increasing.
Adding to the over-supply of houses in Carroll County were builders who flooded the market three years ago with houses priced over $180,000. Some of the new developments have houses that have been unoccupied for a year and a half, but they are now beginning to sell, Mr. Dull said.
To sell houses in a slow economy, sellers in Carroll County who used to accept 3 percent to 4 percent below their listing price, are now accepting 7 percent to 8 percent price cuts.
The county is popular with families from Owings Mills, Pikesville, Severna Park and Catonsville looking for a country atmosphere, Mr. Dull said. Most people want houses on 1 to 1 1/2 acres of land. Mr. Dull said the county was restricting the number of houses on 3- to 5-acre lots to preserve the agricultural atmosphere of the county.
The median price of a Carroll County home rose 27 percent in March 1991 over March 1990 and the number of homes sold fell 15 percent, in comparison to sales figures for March 1990.
The picture is not as bright in Howard County where median prices in March 1991 fell 3 percent and sales volume dropped 26 percent, according to a survey by Rufus S. Lusk & Son Inc.
The Howard County Association of Realtors reports that the volume of single-family house sales for the county last month was nearly unchanged from May 1990.