Home prices top record in Baltimore


The hunger for housing along Baltimore's waterfront communities has helped to drive the average sales price for existing city homes into record territory.

The average sales price for a Baltimore City home broke through the $90,000 barrier, to $93,477, according to June statistics released yesterday by the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc, the multiple-listing system used by real estate agents.

That figure represented an 11.07 percent increase over the comparable period last year.

Over a five-year span, the average sales price for a city home purchased in June has risen 20.15 percent from a low of $77,799 in 1996.

But as prices continued to increase in the metropolitan area, the number of homes sold in June decreased by 2.21 percent from June 1999. For the first half of 2000, preliminary statistics show sales declining 2.51 percent over the comparable period last year.

"In my 24 years [Fells Point] is not only the priciest, it has [experienced] the most appreciation in the shortest amount of time," said William F. Cassidy, manager of the Fells Point and Federal Hill offices of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.

"That [rise in price] has to be the real resurgence of Canton and Federal Hill and all the stuff that is happening down there," said Patrick J. Kane, president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors and vice president of Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty Inc.

"All those [waterfront] properties were bought a couple of years ago and rehabbed and now are popping for big bucks. But that's not all bad, that's good."

Arthur Davis, president of Chase Fitzgerald & Co., in Roland Park, agreed that a $93,477 average sales price in the city is unprecedented, saying it is a further sign the real estate market remains vibrant.

"We're still fighting all the same things like a lack of inventory, but there is no evidence of any across-the-board slow down," Davis said.

A Roland Park home - recently listed in his office for $785,000 - received six offers with four of them for more than the asking price, said Davis.

But downtown, where sale prices have lingered between $60,000 and $80,000 for years, the waterfront renaissance is showing its effects.

"For me [the rise in prices in the waterfront areas is] a direct link to a healthy employment scene because we don't have people struggling with that [higher] sales price," Cassidy said. "That is one of the background causes of seeing a higher sales price ... ."

The rise in prices certainly wasn't exclusive to the city, the overall average sales price for a home the metropolitan area in June rose from $160,119 to $172,331, a 7.63 percent increase over June 1999.

The region's home prices showed gains in every jurisdiction, except Carroll County, where June prices declined 8.59 percent.

Anne Arundel had the biggest rise in prices - 15.41 percent - pushing the average sales price to $224,946.

In Howard County, the prices, as well as the homes, were moving at a furious pace. Of 485 sales in the county last month, 308 sold within the first 30 days. Average days-on-the-market for a Howard County home dropped from 69 in June 1999 to 48.

In the metropolitan area the average days-on-the-market for a home was 88 days in June, an increase of two days over June last year.

The average sales price in Howard County increased 8.09 percent from $211,059 in June 1999 to $228,123 last month. But those buying a single-family detached home with four or more bedrooms, saw a more dramatic increase, with the average sales price rising 14.62 percent from $276,746 to $317,203.

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