Area Real Estate Market Picked Up In October

OCEAN CITY – While the sluggish resort real estate market has not completely turned a corner, there are signs it might be starting to recover, resort business leaders learned this week.

Looking for any sign of optimism in what has been a dismal several months for the local real estate market, members of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) got their monthly report on the industry this week and the news was not all bad. According to Coastal Association of Realtor (CAR) President Cassie Mead, the statistics for October seem to indicate there is good news.

“It’s not all gloom and doom,” she told EDC members at their monthly meeting on Wednesday. “Things look like they are starting to pick up. October was up from September and better than the same month last year.”

Of course, statistics are subject to interpretation and Mead was careful to point out not everything in the numbers points to a turnaround in the local market.

“Things are better then they were last year, but not as good as they were the year before that,” she said.

Some of the statistics presented pointed to a change in recent trends, particularly in condo sales. The numbers seem to indicate considerable growth in sales of properties at extreme ends of the price spectrum with still stagnant sales in the middle.

For example, as of the end of September, the number of Worcester County condo settlements in the $149,999 and below range has increased year-to-date by 133 percent over the same time last year. Similarly, the number of condo settlements in the $1.25 million to $1.5 million range has increased by 1,300 percent over the same period, It’s important to note the sample in the latter is very small with one condo in the high-end range sold last year compared to 14 this year.

“That’s interesting to hear,” said EDC Chairman Dr. Lenny Berger. “I see where 36 units have sold for $900,000 or above. I know there is a lot of inventory in that category.”

While the numbers look good for the bookend properties, similar increases have not been seen in the middle. Unfortunately, more than half of the current condo inventory in the resort is priced between $200,000 and $399,999, according to the statistics.

Mead said another key indicator is inventory, which appears to be going down. There are currently 1,620 units on the market now compared to 1,750 at the end of September.

“The good news is we’ve sold 85 units in the last 35 days, but the bad news is we still have a year-and-a-half worth of inventory,” she said.