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Flourishing economy pushes hot Maryland housing market

(Bloomberg Business photo)

(Bloomberg Business photo)

Last month’s housing numbers from Maryland’s major metro areas continued their strong, recent performance as the nation’s economy continued to expand.

The median sale price for a home in the Baltimore metro area compared to the same time last year increased by 2.2 percent, or roughly $5,000, according to data from MarketStats by ShowingTime based on MRIS listing activity. The area’s median price of $390,700 eclipses the prior February high, set in 2015.

Sellers are generally getting their asking price. The average percent of original list price received was 97.4 percent, an increase from 96.7 percent the year before.

The average amount of time a property spent on the market also experienced a significant decline. Last month a home listed for an average of 18 days, which is 16 days lower than the year before.

There’s continued growth in market activity as well. The number of new listings increased by 7.5 percent, while inventory is at its lowest point since 2014.

Maryland’s D.C. suburbs also posted strong numbers in February, especially Prince George’s County, where the median sale price year-over-year increased 19 percent, to $265,000. Neighboring Montgomery County experienced a 5.4 percent year-over-year increase in median sale price, reaching $389,900.

Statewide, according to numbers from the Maryland Association Realtors, home sales year-over-year remained flat. But median prices increased by 7 percent compared to the previous February.

Shelly Murray, president of the Maryland Association of Realtors, said historically low interest rates allowing new buyers to enter the market and increased equity from existing homeowners bodes well for the statewide residential real estate market.

“Now is a great time to purchase and to buy and for sellers to move up, I’m still definitely encouraged by the real estate market,” Murray said.

Maryland’s housing market is expected to continue its strong performance through the year as the economy continues to roll.

A jobs report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the businesses created 235,000 non-farm jobs in February, higher than what was anticipated, and dropping unemployment to 4.7 percent. The leading employment gains came in the construction, private educations services, manufacturing, health care and mining.

The positive employment numbers mean more people could be in the market to purchase a home. Meanwhile, the improved economy will likely result in the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, which may push buyers who fear another increase into the market sooner.

Mario Valone, a real estate salesman for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, said a potential interest rate hike could nudge more homebuyers into the market. At the same time, especially in Baltimore, there’s not a ton of inventory, so properties are going quick.

“It seems like the properties that were on the market for a while, even without price improvements, are being grabbed up at this point just because buyers are taking a second look at them and considering them more because other properties have come and gone,” Valone said.

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