The Baltimore and Washington housing markets were better in 2013 than they were in 2012. If that sounds like a sweeping statement, it is, and I stand by it.
Just look at the charts below. There are many possible ways to measure the health of the real estate market, yet 2013 beat 2012 in all of these ways.
Let’s start with the Baltimore metro area. Nearly 29,000 sales went to closing in 2013—an increase of 14 percent over 2012. The time those homes spent on the market as active listings dropped 26 percent compared to 2012. And they sold for an average of 3 percent more than the year before. To sum it up: More sales, which sold more quickly, for more money.
Home values increased even more in the Washington area, where 2013 sales prices were 8 percent higher than in 2012. Total sales rose 9 percent, and days-on-market stats fell 30 percent.
What does all this mean for 2014? Although I’m not concerned about this year, there is one potential issue before us: inventory. The unsold inventory in the Baltimore area was up 8 percent on the last day of 2013. It was up 7 percent in the DC area.
This was due in part to a growing number of home listings coming on the market. Listings were up 9 percent in the DC area and 14 percent in the Baltimore area last year. We had enough sales to absorb most of those listings in 2013, so the market didn’t suffer.
But, if interest rates rise enough to dampen buyer enthusiasm this year, and listings continue to pour on the market, we could see inventory go up enough to cool the market somewhat in 2014.
—Chris Sicks has written about the local real estate market for the past 20 years. Contact him by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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