Existing-home sales fell 17% locally in June


Sales of existing homes slumped sharply in most of metropolitan Baltimore last month, but a local economist said that it's too soon to assume the dip means the end of the recent, fragile recovery of the local real-estate market.

The number of homes put under sale of contract fell 17 percent in June, compared with June 1990, according to the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, whose figures cover Baltimore and Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Kent counties.

Anne Arundel County has its own board of Realtors, independent of the Greater Baltimore Board, which reports sales results for Anne Arundel. Those figures are due out today.

"The June figures indicate that while the market has not made significant increases, residential sales have remained active," said Brandon Gaines, president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.

"We're sort of bobbing around in a one-step-forward, two-step-back" pattern, said Michael Conte, director of the Center for Business and Economic Studies at the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business.

"We've really seen consumer confidence bounce around a lot."

The local housing market had shown signs of recovery in the spring, when consumer confidence appeared stronger after the Persian Gulf war ended. In April, home sales went up by 2 percent, their first monthly gain in more than a year, as measured by the number of contracts reached between prospective buyers and sellers.

April's gain switched to a 9 percent drop in existing home sales in May.

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