February Real Estate Numbers Encouraging

Chris Shearer

Contributing Writer

BERLIN- The local real estate industry continues to take small positive steps toward the “new normal” as the usually underwhelming February statistics were strong in and around the region.

According to the Coastal Association of Realtors (CAR), January’s increased numbers of pending sales, or contracts, have translated into finalized settlements in February providing a healthy boost to the real estate market during a traditionally down month. This should be encouraging news to coastal property owners as the market continues its recovery.

“The overall market is historically slower in February due to cold temperatures,” said CAR President Linda Moran. “We saw a significant amount of snow over the past few months, and that puts everything on hold, but despite that, we saw some encouraging numbers in February.”

Last month, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties reported an overall 5.2 percent increase in settlements when compared to this time in 2015. In addition, local inventories have increased in all three counties by eight percent.  Sale prices and the number of real estate listings also rose during the past month, increasing January’s numbers by another 12.6 and 13 percent, respectively. The number of days a property spends on market also rose by 56.9 percent over February.

Of particular interest last month were the settlement numbers in Wicomico County. CAR reported a 24.4-percent increase in single family home settlements while condominium settlements increased 75 percent compared to this time in 2015. Worcester County saw settlements of single family homes decrease by 16.7 percent, with condominium settlements decreasing by 11.9 percent when compared to February 2015.

Contract numbers were largely down over this last month. Despite this, however, condominium contracts in Wicomico and Worcester Counties rose by 12.5 and 3.9 percent, respectively. Also, the number of contracts for single family homes in Wicomico County rose by 2.5 percent.

The past three years have seen steady increases in single family home sales across all three counties. A trend that is expected to continue regionally and nationally as pent up demand for housing is reaching a breaking point.

“Home sales reached 5.3 million by the end of 2015 and are expected to expand 3 percent to around 5.45 million in 2016,” said Lawrence Tun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Local realtors are starting to believe that if February’s numbers are any indication, the market continues its slow climb back to stability.