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Buying, Local Market Report

Market Update: Why Baltimore is a Great Place to Buy a Home

When looking at the nation’s 100 largest housing markets, it’s important to look at the value of each market. Undervalued markets have become the focus of many first-time and seasoned homeowners. However, what do you do when 37% of those housing markets are considered overvalued with remaining markets leaving little room to find an affordable home?

More than a third of buyers who live in high-priced markets are spending more money than intended when purchasing a home, and as many as 40% simply can’t afford it according to CoreLogic.

To combat home costs, more and more young buyers are moving to markets where homes are either at value or undervalued. A great example of an undervalued market is in Baltimore, Maryland.

Aerial view of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland.

A Place Like Baltimore.

With a median listing price that’s less than two-thirds of the national average, Baltimore is still 13% below its peak, reached during the housing boom more than a decade ago. In addition to this, Baltimore provides access to one-third of the U.S. consumer market. With a diverse economic base including healthcare, financial services, education, cybersecurity, and more, the unemployment rate sits lower than the national average at 3.4%.

Poe, Preakness, and Peabody

Baltimore’s inner harbor features shops, restaurants, hotels, and the National Aquarium.  It’s a historic city with distinct neighboring states for those who enjoy traveling. Historic Washington D.C. is within a short drive while Philadelphia, New York City and Boston are a pleasant train ride away.

Leisure time can also be best spent around the Chesapeake Bay. You’ll find a wide variety of restaurants mirroring the city’s ethnic diversity and museums that tell the history of Baltimore’s famed citizens, such as Edgar Allen Poe. Locals root for the Orioles and party in the Pimlico infield during the Preakness. With the Walters Art Museum, the Peabody Conservatory and the Baltimore Symphony, Baltimore has a vibrant arts and music scene.

View of Inner Harbor area in downtown Baltimore Maryland USA

Two Sides of Baltimore

While the Great Baltimore region can feel rich in wealth in surrounding suburbs and urban enclaves such as Towson and the University of Baltimore, there are still problems that many large cities face.

Baltimore’s violent crime rate is twice the national average. Although arrest numbers dropped from 40,000 to 18,000 from 2014 to 2017, homicides rose from 211 to 344 – an increase of 63 percent. But, safer streets are top priorities for city officials in recent years.

School ratings also differ greatly between city and suburban schools. Under Maryland’s public-school rating system, 60% of public schools received four to five stars statewide. Of that percent, 90% to 95% of schools in suburban counties received five stars. Of the 35 schools in Maryland that received one star, 23 were in low-income Baltimore neighborhoods.

 Baltimore’s Bottom Line

Baltimore is a great option to consider if you’re a young, first-time homebuyer looking to move to a market where properties are undervalued. Here’s a quick overview of things to consider if you’re interested in moving to Baltimore:

  1. Affordability: Greater Baltimore is one of the least expensive markets in the nation, but the downside is that the median house in Baltimore has a lower than average appreciation rate.   Do your research to find the best locations for good prices and good prospects for appreciation.
  2. Opportunity: Unemployment is low and the area offers wide employment opportunities in health care, finance, education, and more.
  3. Investment potential: Baltimore’s affordable prices are attracting single-family rental investors as well as young buyers. Though appreciation in the larger real estate market is not great, good opportunities exist in inner-city neighborhoods.
  4. Accessibility: Baltimore is centrally located on the East Coast and destinations from New York to Virginia Beach are easy to reach.
  5. Lifestyle: The area has something for everyone, from boating to Beethoven. 
  6. Climate: Moderate 
  7. Crime: It’s a problem that Baltimoreans take seriously. They live in safe neighborhoods, lock their cars and homes, and avoid dangerous areas.
  8. Culture: Crab cakes, John Waters, Hairspray, Diner, Edgar Allen Poe, Maryland crab soup, H.L. Mencken, the O’s, Johnny Unitas, Charm City, Old Bay and “Hon” is a term of endearment.
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Steve Cook is the editor of the Down Payment Report and provides public relations consulting services to leading companies and non-profits in residential real estate and housing finance. He has been vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Realtors, senior vice president of Edelman Worldwide and press secretary to two members of Congress.

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