New Home Sales Soaring in Baltimore

| October 10, 2012 | 1 Comments

“2011 was the worst year for new construction, but 2012 has been the best year I’ve ever seen.  It’s been phenomenal,” RE/MAX Agent Ari Gerzowski told SouthBMore.com.  Just like the Baltimore Orioles have been the best comeback story in baseball, it appears new construction townhomes have been one of the great comeback stories in 2012 for Baltimore.

If you drive by a new construction townhome development recently you’ve probably seen a lot of  ‘Sold’ signs.  Whether it’s Locust Point, South Baltimore, Federal Hill, Butchers Hill, Fells Point, Canton, Highlandtown or Greektown, new developments are exceeding the optimistic expectations of  developers and sales agents.

Long & Foster Agent Steve Strohecker just finished applying the ‘Sold’ signs of four new townhomes on the 1600 block of Light St. weeks before they were finished – each are under contract for more than $300,000.  When asked if there has  been an increase in activity on new construction, Strohecker said, “Oh my gosh yeah.”  With all four on Light St. already sold, Strohecker and his team will soon list  six new townhomes currently under construction on the 1800 block of Jackson St., a development stalled for several years.

Trent Waite of RE/MAX Realty is the listing agent for Merchant Point, an 18-townhouse development in Fells Point with houses ranging from $630,000-$700,000.  “We were hoping we could sell eight of the homes by the end of this year and we’ve already sold 16.  Once people saw the quality of the first home built in February, things really took off,” Waite told SouthBMore.com.

The development team of Union Box Company and Stonington Partners will be keeping Waite and his team busy. Merchant Square behind the old Obrycki’s, which has just been approved as a new Latin-inspired seafood restaurant, at Pratt and Anne St. will soon break ground on eight new townhomes scheduled for completion by the summer of 2013.  The team is also in the beginning phases of a 23-24 home development in Brewers Hill at Dillon St. and Fagley St.  Completion is expected in approximately a year and a half.

Gerzowski is the listing agent for the new 10-townhome Harbor Square development on Fort Ave. and Patatpsco St. in South Baltimore/Federal Hill which just broke ground last week. “We already have two under contract and expect several more very shortly,” said Gerzowski.  The 1950-square foot homes will feature three bedrooms, a roof deck, wet bar, parking garage and more and begin around $400,000.

Harbor Square is just one of the developments that have kept Gerzowski very busy.  Hampstead View, a 14-townhome unit in Butchers Hill, was sold out in nine months;  eight of the nine homes at Grundy Landing in Highlandtown were sold this year; and there is currently no inventory at Athena Square in Greektown after selling the final six homes of Phase 6 last spring.  “Athena Square is an 83-home development and we still have 35 units available.  The 10 homes in Phase 7 have just begun and will be available soon.  In my opinion these homes are the best deal in Baltimore, starting at $299,900,” said Gerzowski.  He also has a new four-home development at Hudson St. and Harmony Ct. in Canton starting soon.

Across the street from Athena Square is the new Ryan Homes development O’Donnell Square.  O’Donnell Square is as a 321-unit townhome development at Oldham and Fait Ave. in Greektown.  “In five months we’ve sold 41 homes, which has far exceeded our expectations.  It’s one our most successful developments we have in the entire region,” said O’Donnell Square Sales Agent Paul Johnsen.

The first phase of O’Donnell Square will be 121 homes and they are hoping to start the final 200 homes in Phase 2 sometime in 2013.  The homes were initially available at a starting price below $200,000 but now begin at $214,999 with prices expected to rise every three to four weeks. “Our five-year plan is to be a 300-home community and our 10-year plan is for people to take advantage of the Red Line Light Rail which will come through Greektown.”  O’Donnell Square also offers a free shuttle for residents every Thursday, Friday and Saturday which goes to Canton, Fells Point and Harbor East.

The Chris Cooke Team of RE/MAX has been working on two new developments, The Townes at Harris Landing in Canton and the Townes at Locust Point in Locust Point.  The Townes at Locust Point is a 71-townhome development in which Cooke was brought on to sell the final 31 homes of the development.  They have sold 25 of the homes this year, 15 of which are currently under contract.  They were also brought on the sell the final nine homes of the 16-home Harris Landing development, eight of which are currently purchased or under contract.

So, with all of the negative press lately about the real estate market and new construction, what has led to this surge?  A common answer was certainly interest rates which are currently at an all time lows in the 3% range, in addition to a five-year phased tax credit to homeowners who purchase new construction.  “Not only are new homes selling well, but so are rehabs.  Our group currently has 61 under contract.  I think people are just tired of all of the negative news and there are so many renters out there that homes can sell quickly without waiting on the pending sale of another home,” said Cooke.

“Interest rates are a big thing, but there is a lot of creative financing right now and home buying programs.  Johns Hopkins also has their own home buying programs and the effect of the Johns Hopkins job market on Baltimore real estate is off the hook,” said Gerzowski. “As far as new construction, we are selling a great product with big closets and great spaces, which is hard to find in the city.”

“We are selling people on upside potential.  The developments continue to move farther east and there is so much going on in this area with the new Canton Crossing Shopping Center and more.  We are close to I-95, Canton and Fells Point, but offer a lower price, in addition to parking, decks and an overall great product.  Your money goes a lot further here,” said Johnsen.

There are certainly a lot of great options in Baltimore these days between renting and buying new or old homes.  Mayor Rawlings-Blake and her staff have reiterated their goal to add 10,000 new families to Baltimore City and it looks like 2012 is exceeding expectations – just like the Orioles!

 

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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