As mentioned last month, signs of a “bottom” are starting to appear in the Birmingham, Alabama market. This month, there was a noticeable return to a more normal seasonal pattern of sales increases, rather than continual month to month declines. However, the sales increases are more modest than usual and off a lower base. Inventory in absolute number of active houses listed improved modestly. The picture was mixed when looking at “months of inventory with New Houses improving nicely and Used Houses deteriorating slightly (see below). By the way, a bottom does not mean that things are about to get better, just that they may not get a lot worse. Sellers will have to continue to adjust their expectations. There are buyers out there but they can afford to be very choosy.
Total dollar sales improved 25% to $250,646,330 in March from $199,946,330 in February. Normally March is up from February (last year was 31%), and this increase looks a bit weak, but against the prior declines and national background, we’ll take it! (Chart section A page 4). This corresponds to the sales levels of 2004, before the speculative run up.
Total unit sales improved 14% to 1,337 in March from 1,178 in February an improvement of 159 units. New sales improved to 325 homes this month from 284 in February, an improvement of 41 units. Used sales improved to 1012 homes in March from 894 last month, an improvement of 118 (sect E page 3).
Absorption rates for new homes improved to 7.4 months from 8.2 of inventory last month. This is almost identical to last year at this time, (Section E page 3).
Absorption for used homes remained at 9.8 months of inventory in March. This is a 1.3 month increase from last year’s level at this time.
There was a 3.8% decline in active listings from 14,743 active listings in February* down to 14,205 in March, a decrease of 538 units. Active New listings decreased to 3,051 in March from 3,508 in February, a decrease of 457 units (E-3). Active Used listings decreased to 11,154 this month from 11,235 last month, a decrease of 81 (page E-3).
Average Days on Market for new houses 164 days as compared to 138 days last month. Used houses remained even at 106 days compared to 107 days in February. (sec A page 18). As many of you know we don’t place much credibility in Days On Market (DOM), preferring absorption rates and months of inventory. Call me for details if you need to.
Average sales prices for sold new homes increased to $250,159 from $223,663. (Chart sect A p2) Average sales prices for sold used homes increased to $167,171 from $151,932. (Chart sect A p2)