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Sales Improve on Washington’s Periphery

According to data from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS), the multiple listing service (MLS) which covers much of the Middle-Atlantic region, and Real Estate Business Intelligence (RBI), a Maryland based group that specializes in MLS data reports, new pending contracts in their coverage area rose 11.1% in February relative to the same period in 2011.  However, while the number of homes with newly minted contracts in much of the middle-Atlantic region rose in February, the improvement was not evenly distributed.

Compared to last year, new pending sales for February in the counties central to metro Washington, DC and immediately west of Baltimore grew in the single or double digits.  Baltimore County joined a band of counties just east of Washington, DC that grew by more than 25% including Prince George’s y, Anne Arundel, and Fauquier Counties.  One standout inside the beltway was the City of Falls Church (VA), which jumped 100% over the same month last year.

New pending sales in the western panhandle of Maryland and into West Virginia as well as Pennsylvania were more erratic with Allegany county declining, while Garret and Grant counties surged.  The latter trend might reflect unseasonably warm weather in the western mountains which are normally partially covered with snow at that time of year.

In the Eastern Shore of Maryland new pending sales were also erratic.  Sales in Caroline and Kent counties declined, while pending sales in Talbot and Queen Anne counties jumped by more than 50% compared to February of last year.    A block of weakness was evidence along the 95 corridor as pending sales declined in Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania Counties.

While not all counties in the area covered by MRIS shared in February’s strong pending sales figures, the majority of the area is moving in a positive direction.  This trend is likely to spread and stabilize as the economy improves outside of the Washington-Baltimore corridor.

Ken Fears, Director, Regional Economics and Housing Finance

Ken Fears is the Manager of Regional Economics and Housing Finance Policy. He focuses on regional and local market trends found in the Local Market Reports and the Market Watch Reports . He also writes on developments in the mortgage industry and foreclosures.

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