Rising home prices in Maryland encouraging, agents say -- Gazette.Net


An 11 percent hike in the average sale price of an existing home in Maryland last month has real estate agents and others feeling better about the housing market.

The average price climbed to $298,000, the highest monthly level in almost two years, according to figures released Monday by the Maryland Association of Realtors. The median price also rose 11 percent.

“My office had its best April in the past four years,” said Dennis Melby, vice president for Montgomery County with the Maryland Association of Realtors and an agent with Long and Foster’s Bethesda Gateway office. “People are more optimistic with the pent-up demand and low mortgage rates.”

Patricia A. Terrill, board president of the Maryland Association of Realtors, said in a statement that the price jump “suggests a stabilizing trend. ... We are especially encouraged that inventory declined to 6.3 months, compared to 8.1 months in April of last year.”

Six months of inventory is considered an indicator of a healthy market, according to the organization.

Still, sales are sluggish, dropping 2 percent in April from a year ago. Year-over-year sales in March also declined by 2 percent after increasing 5 percent in January.

That’s not surprising with the rise in housing prices, the trade group said. The organization pointed to an increase in pending sales, which rose by 6 percent in April from a year earlier across Maryland.

“It looks like we are in the midst of a vibrant spring market,” Terrill said.

Washington, D.C., saw 8 percent year-over-year price jumps in both February and March and a 10 percent hike in January. April’s increase was the first significant year-over-year rise in Maryland in more than a year.

“We’re hearing that a lot of homes in D.C. are getting multiple offers as prices rise,” Melby said. “That tends to ripple into the suburbs.”

Montgomery County saw a 6 percent rise in average sales price last month to about $464,000 and a 4 percent increase in the number of units sold. That stopped a string of declines in average prices and units sold the previous six months.

The average number of days a home sat on the market in April in Montgomery declined to 73 from 81 a year earlier.

Prince George’s and Frederick counties both saw an 8 percent rise in average home prices in April, while units sold declined by about 1 percent. Howard County saw the opposite trend, with prices declining by 4 percent and units sold rising by 22 percent.