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Foreclosures high, but Baltimore area housing market hums

The Baltimore metro area’s housing market showed continued signs of growth, although the state is still struggling with one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.

Ross Mackesey, president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, found reason to be optimistic in the housing market’s performance in June. Overall volume is up 19.6 percent, units up 22.8 percent and contracts up 19.7 percent.

“We are seeing all pieces of the market get traction,” Mackesey said.

In his most recent market commentary, Mackesey found that year-over-year numbers were still strong in the market and that goals for the year are comparable to 2006 and 2007, prior to the financial crisis. But he also points out that the markets are different, with detached homes representing 9.3 percent more of the market then in June of 2006. Meanwhile, townhomes declined by 9.3 percent while condos were down by less than 1 percent.

But according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, Maryland is still dealing with the fallout from the bursting of the housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis. The report found the third-highest foreclosure rate in the nation through the first half of the year. Mackesey said that he, like other real estate professionals, is still trying to figure out when the distressed property market bottoms out.

Mackesey said the continued high foreclosure rates could be a positive in some ways. He said the foreclosures are outpacing short sales, which is positive because they 95 percent of foreclosure sales close. Short sales, on the other hand, only result in a success about half the time.

“Sure they have an impact on pricing. But we’re finding that almost everybody who buys a foreclosed property … there’s almost always deferred maintenance on a foreclosed property. So the buyers are putting additional money into them and that’s all good for the economic stimulus,” he said.