Looking back over a year of Hot House columns, searching for some rhyme or reason to the local real estate market, the Baltimore Fishbowl ran a quick check to see which dream houses have sold and which ones are still hanging around.
What’s moving — sleek condos or charming cottages? Old estates or giant McMansions? There are any number of ideas on what makes a house sell in this down economy, but the prevailing market-think is best summed up by Noah Mumaw, of Prudential Homesale, YWGC Realty, “This is the most price-sensitive market that I have ever seen. Homes that are priced properly are flying off the market.”
Of course, one man’s “priced properly” is another man’s “practically giving it away.” What is undeniable is that the average home sale price has dropped about 30 percent in the past five years, and yesterday’s $500,000 house is worth only $350,000 in today’s money.
Jeff Nelson, a realtor at the Roland Park office of Coldwell Banker, gives a similar perspective to Mumaw’s. “There’s nothing really magical about the real estate market,” he says. “It’s price, product and position (location). And there are also a lot of houses out there that sell without ever coming on the market.” He cites several examples. “I have two settlements today. Things are selling.”
Confronted with a selection of Hot Houses that show only about half of them having been sold, Nelson has a ready and sensible answer. “Those are extraordinary homes. Very expensive homes tend to sit around longer in any market, because there are just so few people who can afford them.”
So let’s see. Here’s a random(ish) selection of those extraordinary homes, a market recap of Hot Houses on the market this past year:
622 Ponte Villas North, a giant, luxury townhouse on the water, just off the Key Highway, was priced at $8,500,000. Unsold, it is now available as a rental, $6,000/mo. (UPDATE: This house is NOT for rent!! We goofed. It’s 620 that’s for rent. We received an email from the real estate agent, Karen Bisbee, telling us that “there are no circumstances under which this property would be available for rent.” We apologize for the error!)
SOLD 1023 South Curley Street. This luxury condo in Canton sold back in February of this year, at very close to its asking price of $1,100,000.
1718 Greenspring Valley Road The infamous “Nelson Hendler house,” home to the (cue creepy music) Mensana Pain Clinic was auctioned by Alex Cooper last year, with a minimum bid of $1,400,00. It didn’t sell, needed tons of work, and presumably remains open to an offer.
SOLD 16 Mt. Vernon Place sold in May, after over a year on the market, to the group that owns Agora Publishing. Agora owns several of the Mt. Vernon Place mansions, renovating them and using them as corporate offices. Number 16 was in mint condition. The owner was asking $2,450,000, it sold for $1,750,000.
SOLD 719 Park Avenue is a stylish city house with two top floor rental apartments. On the market for six months, in good, but not perfect condition, the owner was asking $795,000 and got $700,000.
SOLD 25 Woodbrook Lane backs onto the 7th hole of the Elkridge golf club, the ‘Downton Abbey ‘ of Baltimore. Asking $2,500,000, that’s what they got.
SOLD A classic shingled-style house with “the best porch in Roland Park,” recently sold for $822,500 a little down from it’s $949,000 price tag.
Bohemia Manor Farm, the historic hunting estate in Chesapeake City, is still for sale too, and also reduced — from an asking price of $11,300,00 back in April, to $9,859,000 today.
Tudor Farms, financier Paul Tudor Jones’ 6,000 acre hunting estate and wetlands preserve on Maryland’s eastern shore. Still for sale, still at $30 million.
There you have it. Spark any ideas? We welcome theories, opinions, suggestions as to where Baltimore real estate is – no matter how wacky, we’ll take all comers.
The last word however, must go to Heidi Krauss, the Baltimore realtor who arguably moves more high-end homes than anyone else in town. “ The really high end of the market is truly the best buy right now. These houses are selling at prices that are exponentially lower that what it would cost to recreate them.”