Real Estate Figures ‘Good, Positive News’

OCEAN CITY – While the resort area real estate market remains sluggish, there is reason for optimism, according to local industry leaders who delivered their monthly update to Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) on Wednesday.

Like just about everywhere else in the country, the real estate market in Ocean City and Worcester County has been mired in a slump for the last year or so, but there are signs it could start to rebound. Coastal Association of Realtors President-elect Ron Edelman told EDC members on Wednesday a modest spike in new contracts on condominiums in February is something for the industry to hang its hat on as it heads into the spring season, although he tempered his enthusiasm somewhat.

“Yes, it continues to be slow,” he told the EDC. “But we continue to look for good, positive news about the market in our area and our most recent reports show contracts on condos increased 23 percent in February from the same month last year.”

The most recent data compiled by Automated Regional Information Systems (ARIS) showed some growth in the number of new contracts for condominiums in Ocean City for February 2008 compared to the same month last year. ARIS reported 76 contracts written last month compared to 62 the same month last year.

Much of the growth was concentrated in the mid-price-range condos with the largest spike in the $300,000 to $399,999 range. ARIS reported 21 new contracts in that price range in February 2008 compared to just seven in February 2007. Condos priced on the lowest and highest ends of the spectrum continued to see stagnant or even negative growth.

Edelman said the relatively good news on the condo contract numbers for February was a bi-product of a successful mid-month holiday weekend. He said he hoped the nudge upward would provide a launching pad for a solid spring for the market.

“I think we’re seeing some great things start to happen in this area,” he said. “President’s Day weekend is always a good barometer for how the spring will go, and we’re encouraged by the early results.”

Meanwhile, Edelman introduced new CAR Executive Director Teresa Fields to EDC members on Wednesday. Fields, who for years served as executive director for Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, said she hopes to renew the energy and excitement surrounding the real estate market in the resort.

“After all these years, whenever I come into Ocean City, I still feel that air of excitement,” she said. “I’ve never lost that feeling. It’s the reason people come here and it can carry over to real estate. People come here looking for a piece of that excitement for themselves.”