Is 2023 the year to sell, or buy, a home in in Bolton Hill?

So, what’s a Bolton Hill homeowner – or would-be homeowner – to do in 2023? Is this the right time to put your house on the market, or to jump from renting to owning your home?

Mortgage rates are double what they were a year ago, and likely to keep rising through much of  the year. Housing for sale inventory is low as we approach the optimum spring market for real estate sales. With the pandemic somewhat under control, will the availability of properties expand?

We asked three Bolton Hill-based real estate experts, with more than 60 years’ experience in the business between them, what to expect.

Avendui Lacovara: “I’m expecting a more robust spring market, although there is still not much inventory. There always are buyers looking to own one of these large, historic houses, but with interest rates rising, I expect buyers to be cautious about prospective maintenance. People with income and good credit can get the mortgage they need, but they may not want to take a chance on a house that might come with a big expense over their mortgage, such as a new roof or heating system.

“In recent months there have been so few properties on the market that it is hard to see any trends. Are the rate increases going to stop appreciating home prices? We don’t know, but it is likely that we won’t see multiple parties bidding up prices, as was common in neighborhoods like ours in 2021 and last year.”

Jessica Dailey: I agree. Buyers are more cautious now, especially when it comes to these big, older houses. Sellers need to remember the house needs to show at its absolute best if they want to get the most money. They may not get that crazy price of 2022, nor may they get three offers, but if it is a home that shows well, doesn’t need a lot of work, it will sell.

“There are always people looking for homes in Bolton Hill. It might take them two to three years before they find THE one. When they do, they usually pounce! Also, buyer demographics are changing in Bolton Hill. Younger buyers may want different floorplans, amenities etc., than what would-be sellers have comfortably enjoyed for the last 20 to 30 years.”

Marci Yankelov: “In 2022 the average days on the market in Baltimore was 27; that is 40 percent below the three-year average. With the rise in interest rates and the slowly increasing inventory I expect that to increase slightly. However, well-priced homes are always going to sell faster. Your pricing strategy is more important than ever. It can either help sell your home or help sell the competition when buyers look at both and compare.

“Savvy Buyers are not deterred by interest rates; they understand that they can always refinance if the rates come down. There also are grants and employer programs like Live Where You Work to encourage buyers to purchase homes in the city.”

Data points:

  • A CNN survey of the 50 largest cities across the country showed that skyrocketing rents and rising interest rates play out differently in different markets. In December 2022, their survey found, Baltimore was one of only five cities where buying a house was, on average, less costly than renting a comparable property, assuming mortgage eligibility.
  • Jessica Dailey crunched these numbers:
    • As of today (1/20/23), there are six active listings in the neighborhood with one pending sale.
    • There were 65 properties traded in Bolton Hill in 2022. The top sale was 1603 Park Ave. for $925,000. It was my listing and sold before it went on the market. Median days on market in 2022 was 27. Median closed sales price for older style Bolton Hill houses: $635,000, a $62,000 increase from 2021.
    • In 2021 there were 67 properties traded in Bolton Hill. That year the top sale was 1601 Bolton St. for $885,500. Median days on market in 2021 was 10; median closed sales price for older style Bolton Hill houses was $573,000.

During the pandemic many sales were conducted without in-person showings, a trend that Dailey sees continuing. She said she recently sold a property to someone in Paris entirely based on video showings.

Yankelov feels upbeat about the level of major residential construction underway citywide:

Locke Landing in what is now called Baltimore Peninsula (nee Port Covington), 300 units scheduled to begin in the summer; Eager Landing, near the Johns Hopkins Hospital complex in East Baltimore, with 70 new units by 2024; North Madison Park just north of Bolton Hill in Reservoir Hill — the first phase is underway of what eventually is to be 375 market rate townhouses and apartments over five years or so. 

“It proves that Baltimore is still seen as a great place for real estate investing,” she said.

–Bill Hamilton