An Analysis of Baltimore City’s Residential Market Potential

Jan. 19, 2021

Report Documents Strong Market for New and Renovated Homes in Baltimore City

New Citywide Analysis Finds That Up to 7,100 New or Renovated Homes Could be Occupied Annually in Baltimore

Building new homes and apartments and renovating existing homes would be a promising strategy to retain and attract thousands of households in Baltimore City, a new study commissioned by Live Baltimore has concluded.

The study demonstrates that the City’s residential housing market is strong, and new or rehabbed homes are needed to meet the preferences of the potential market.

Overall, the analysis projects that between 5,300 and 7,100 households would rent or buy new or significantly renovated homes each year over the next five years if such homes were added to the City’s housing stock. Those would be in addition to those households renting or buying units now.

Filling this number of additional housing units would be a major step forward as it would help grow the population, generate new economic activity, and expand Baltimore’s tax base.

“These numbers suggest a bright future for Baltimore City, and they tell us clearly who makes up the potential residential market,” said Annie Milli, executive director of Live Baltimore. “Policy makers should use this study to inform strategies that increase the number of people living in the City. If we renovate or build the right kinds of housing at the right prices, we can retain and attract thousands more Baltimoreans. These numbers provide a roadmap for how the City can grow its residential base and become stronger economically.”

The report identifies three key demographic groups that make up the potential residential market in Baltimore City, led by young single people and childless couples, who account for 63 percent of the potential market. Families of all kinds account for 21 percent, and retirees and empty nesters account for 16 percent.

“This study’s release follows the best year for Baltimore’s housing market in a decade. We know providing assistance to new homeowners is a strategy that increases generational wealth for our families,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “It’s clear from this report that we have momentum to build on as we grow our city and reimagine equitable economic development in Baltimore.”

The study was conducted by nationally recognized experts, Zimmerman/Volk Associates (ZVA), and is the first-ever analysis of residential market potential for all of Baltimore City. It intentionally considers potential housing growth in both affordable and market-rate units—both rehabbed and newly constructed—among residents of all incomes.

ZVA analyzed a range of data related to housing preferences and socio-economic characteristics of households in the areas where new residents are likely to move from, as well as mobility rates, stage of life, and lifestyle patterns.

The analysis found:

  • More than 44,000 households could potentially move into existing and new housing units in Baltimore each year. An estimated 58 percent live in the City now, with another 20 percent living in Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, or Howard County.
  • Of that group, 59 percent would likely choose rental homes, while 41 percent would likely opt for homeownership.
  • The potential residential market is made up of households of all incomes, resulting in wide rent and purchase price ranges. For some households, varying degrees of financial assistance or subsidies for housing would be required to support their rental or purchase.

“The analysis underscores the need for affordable housing to meet existing demand,” Milli said. “But it also paints a picture of a mixed-income city of the future with more than a third of households having incomes that meet or exceed the average for the region.”

The residential market study from Live Baltimore coincides with the completion of a second report that documents the value of growing the City’s residential population. As part of the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC) “Baltimore Together” comprehensive economic development strategy, a report, “The Power of Residential Growth,” was prepared by Econsult Solutions Inc. to analyze the impact of a growing population in Baltimore.

That report found that adding 26,500 households over five years – a figure that is projected by the ZVA analysis – would generate an annual economic impact of $1.97 billion in the City, supporting 10,900 jobs, and generating $128 million in new City tax revenue.

“Baltimore has a chance to grow in a manner that benefits both existing and future residents. It can forge a path that stimulates growth while ensuring that the achievement of and benefit from that growth is inclusive of all residents,” the Econsult report concludes.

To generate the growth potential indicated by Live Baltimore’s report, the Econsult report recommends the City:

  • Create incentives to stimulate residential growth with equitable results.
  • Provide resources to help existing homeowners as a way to stabilize neighborhoods and foster more residential growth.
  • Continue an aggressive effort to remove or rehab blighted properties.
  • Undertake sustained promotion efforts to attract new residents.

“This report makes clear that residential growth is an economic development strategy that can deliver equitable benefits to residents,” said BDC President and CEO Colin Tarbert. “Knowing that there is a strong market for new and renovated homes in the City is a first step toward creating inclusive economic growth in Baltimore. This report will be a tool to attract investment to parts of Baltimore that have, unfortunately, gone without for too long.”

About Live Baltimore

Live Baltimore is a nationally recognized, independent nonprofit organization committed to promoting the benefits of Baltimore City living. Each year, Live Baltimore provides thousands of individuals with information on the City’s 250+ neighborhoods, rental living options, homebuying incentive programs, historic tax credits, and more. For more information, visit


PRONUNCIATION: Live Baltimore is pronounced with a short “i” sound, as in “I live in Baltimore City.”

Live Baltimore Communications Manager
Margarita Cambest
410-637-3750 x123

Learn more about residential migration in Baltimore.

View the origin and race of movers within and to the City from 2014-2018 (data that informed this report).