Homes appreciate at rate of 5.1% during...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Homes appreciate at rate of 5.1% during 1st quarter

Homes nationwide continued to gain appreciation as Freddie Mac reported that values rose at an annualized rate of 5.1 percent during the first quarter this year compared with the final quarter of 1999.

The South Atlantic states, which include Maryland, posted a 5.8 percent increase in home prices, the fifth highest out of nine regions nationwide.

But home values in Maryland for the first quarter increased at a rate of 0.81 percent, and home values in Baltimore declined slightly at 0.02 percent, according to the Freddie Mac Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index.

When compared with the first quarter last year, home values in the Baltimore metropolitan area have risen 4.21 percent. In Maryland, values have increased 3.75 percent when compared with the first quarter last year.

"Home appreciation rates eased from the blistering pace at the end of 1999," said Amy Cutts, senior economist at Freddie Mac.

"House prices are showing signs that the housing market may finally be slowing to more reasonable levels. ... But consumer confidence remains high, so our expectation continues to be that housing will have a good year with moderately strong house price growth of about 4.5 to 5.5 percent," Cutts added.

Home values in New England states had the most dramatic rise in the first quarter, growing at a 10.2 percent annualized rate. The Pacific states were next at 6.3 percent.

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