• Live Baltimore is a nonprofit that sells potential residents on calling Baltimore home.
  • Recent print ad and social media campaigns by the group showcase Baltimore's lower housing costs.
  • Even with a recent increase in MARC transit prices, fares are still less than parking in D.C., and the train is less hassle than driving.

It’s not your imagination: as prices heat up in major metros such as Washington, D.C., cities that hug the big metro’s perimeter are ramping up promotional efforts concerning their towns.

Anything from fresh websites to promotional campaigns large and small is part of the mix to sell outlying, lower-cost area to potential homebuyers is fair game.

Case in point is Live Baltimore.

Baltimore, USA - July 29, 2011. Sports Legends Museum and Geppi's entertainment Museum at twilight in Baltimore, Maryland. Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yard is a world famous museum to showcase the well-known sports players in history from the city of Baltimore and State of Maryland. It is located on West Camden Street in Baltimore and home to the Orioles and Maryland Athletic halls of fame.

Baltimore, USA – July 29, 2011.

In its latest ad, which is making waves, two eerily similar houses are pictured next to each other. One is close to Union Station in DC proper, the other is near Penn Station in Baltimore.

The difference is not only an hour’s train ride – one house costs more than twice the other. The house with the DC address is $669,000; the Maryland home goes for $299,000.

The number of workers commuting from Baltimore to DC isn’t huge, but there is definitely a growing population of them. Numbers drawn from U.S. Census data show that the number almost doubled recently – and those numbers are at least two years behind.

Distance between Baltimore and DC is getting smaller

So, a growing number of people are willing to make the commute. And there is good reason: not only does the Live Baltimore ad hit home, but it’s grounded in fact.

According to RealEstate Business Intelligence, the median sale price of a home in the DC area was $410,000 last year. In Baltimore, the average was $240,000.

Some developers wish to further blur the distinction between the two cities by building apartments right near train stations, to make commuting between the two as fast as possible. People choose Baltimore because they want more of a city feel than moving to the suburbs, so why not make the transitions seamless, too?

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, developer Ernst Valery seeks to break ground on a 103-unit apartment building in Station North, with walkability to Penn Station. And, developer Eugene Poverni, a principal at Poverni Sheikh Group, who has led renovations all over Baltimore, plans to build an 80-unit apartment building near the West Baltimore MARC station.

The cost of MARC train  is still a bargain compared to paying for (after finding) parking in DC. Even though the prices ticked up a little last year, a one-way trip on the Camden or Penn lines from Baltimore to DC is $8. A monthly pass runs $216. 

What MARC is up to is a critical piece of what Live Baltimore’s attempting to accomplish. Once MARC increased its service to include weekends a couple years ago, Live Baltimore upped its print spend to include ads in DC, and recently expanded its media mix to include more targeted social media outreach.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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