Thursday, June 9, 2011


The Real Estate Wonk: Baltimore homes, apartments, real estate: Buying, selling, renting and housing news from reporter Jamie Smith Hopkins

Report: Baltimore-area home prices down nearly 9%

Home prices in the Baltimore metro area are down nearly 9 percent compared with a year ago, according to new figures from real estate data firm Clear Capital.
The company, which tracked prices in the four months ending in May, uses a repeat-sale index that tries to get at the true change in home value without the skewing that can come when comparing all homes sold in one period vs. all those that sold in another.
Clear Capital says the metro area saw the same nearly 9 percent drop when comparing February-May with the previous three months, one of the largest declines among big regions. Five other metro areas saw larger drops, including No. 1 Detroit, down 13 percent.
The federally powered Washington region was one of the few to see a gain over the quarter and also over the year. 
Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics for Clear Capital, thinks it's pretty clear why the Baltimore area is on the company's "lowest performing major markets" list.
The metro area's share of bank-owned sales, though still below the nation's, is at record levels even as the national percentage has dropped, he said.

Just over 25 percent of the Baltimore area's home sales were REO homes during the February through May period, Clear Capital says. Villacorta said that share rose rapidly during the earlier part of the bust, peaked at 20 percent in early 2009 and had been receding as the homebuyer tax credit brought more people into the market -- some of whom bought non-foreclosures. 
"We are now reaching a new high in terms of this saturation rate for the Baltimore metro area," he said. "Correspondingly, we are seeing prices hit a new low in the Baltimore area, effectively since the downturn began. One of the biggest drops has been over the most recent rolling quarter, which corresponds with the sharp uptick [in] the sale of distressed homes."