July 2020

Home sales in metro Baltimore remained low levels from January through May before increasing 33% in June.  It appears that home shoppers, who have been cooped up for months in their homes, are taking advantage of low interest rates, a booming stock market, and more confidence in the local economy as businesses begin to reopen.

We have a while to go before we get back to normal, but we are seeing encouraging in Baltimore as it outpaces Metro DC in job expansion.  Baltimore’s employment base grew 2.3% from April to May followed by a 3.2% from May to June. In comparison, Metro DC’s employment shrunk 0.5% from April to May before growing 1.6% from May to June.

Job Growth

Weak: We narrowed our employment growth analysis to a six-month view from January through June 2020.  The sheer loss of 192K jobs in April was devastating to the economy.  Baltimore began its recovery quickly with gains of 27.7K jobs in May and 40.3K jobs in June.  On a MOY basis, Baltimore is down 128K jobs from June 2019 to June 2020, a change of -8.9% MOY.

Permit Growth

Weak: Baltimore’s permit issuance for the last 12 months appears to be the same as 2019 – slightly less than 7K permits issued. However, when comparing the last 12 months ending in May to the same period last year, SF permits are down 8% while multifamily permits are down 39% for an overall 21% decline YOY.

Employment-to-Permit Ratio

Weak: We are evaluating the E/P ratio on a MOY basis — comparing change in jobs from May 2020 to May 2019 to the number of permits issued during that time. The YOY analysis smooths out the recent job losses by averaging employment gains and losses over the past year. With E/P ratio sinking to historic lows, we should expect pressure to lower effective rents. The low inventory levels of for-sale housing will help protect home values from price declines.

Housing Inventory

Weak, but helpful for price stability: Inventory levels dropped from 2.6 months to 1.7 months of supply due to fewer listings and a 33% jump in sales from 3,068 sales in May to 4,091 sales in June. A low supply will help maintain or improve current home values.

Existing Home Sales and Prices

Strong: Projected resales closings were flat YOY at 41.4K sales for the last 12 months ending in June. Median sales prices rose 5.5% to an average $287K for the last 12 months. Home sales have trended up in recent months and we anticipate seeing YOY gains in coming months.

Affordability

Affordability improving: Metro Baltimore home values have shown modest gains over the past three quarters after strong growth in 2018 and early 2019.  With an annual appreciation rate of 3.8% in 1Q2020 Baltimore’s home value appreciation is below the national rate of 5.8% and has been below national levels since 2014.