Signs of a bottom in the Baldwin County Real Estate Market?

Baldwin County MLS* Observations for the month of February 2009: Real Estate Statistics for the Baldwin County, Alabama Coastal Areas:

Sales in February improved by 16.5% to $41,422,579 from the $35,569,961 reported in January. (see page A-2). This increase may in fact be both a harbinger of spring and a sign of a bottom. It is certainly too early to declare a bottom, but there are signs. In particular, the 12 month moving average line of total dollar sales has “flattened” out and is no longer pointing straight down. Total homes active has similarly stopped climbing rapidly. New construction has slowed dramatically and is no longer adding to the glut. I’m not exactly expecting sunshine and there are still big risks ahead but there is also the possibility that things won’t be getting a lot worse from here.

A number of areas saw increased unit sales, and there were modest increases in sales for most price ranges. There were some sales in the upper ranges for used home indicating that there are some bargain hunters in the market. Even with the modest improvement, sales remain dismal and at 2002 levels. But this is far better that the bottomless drop which has been the case for a while. On a unit basis, sales of all houses improved by 28% to 204 vs. 160 last month. Used house sales improved by 35% to 179 vs. 133 last month. New house unit sales decreased to 25 from 27 last month (Sect A P. 18).

New listings for new houses decreased in February to 36 from 39 in January. New listings are running slightly ahead of the rate of sales of new houses (Chart Section C P1 and Table Sect A P18). Used houses New listings decreased to 733 this month from 808 in January. Sellers are frustrated and are possibly relisting their homes with new agents since net Active listings were down and are trending down for both new and used houses. (See below).

Interestingly, and encouraging, the absolute number of Used Active homes on the market has generally declined since peaking at 6,284 in May 2007. In February, there were 4986 used homes a 21% reduction from the peak. The new house market which peaked out in September 2006 at 2,145 active, and 621 in January now sits at 564, a 73% reduction from the peak. There were 4,986 Used Active houses in February, a slight decrease from 5,150 in January.

The Absorption rate for new houses was 10.3 months of inventory for February vs. 11 in January.  The Absorption rate for used houses was 22.1 months of inventory for February vs. 22.6 in January. (See Section A Page 17).

Average sales price for new units decreased to $201,056 from $240,896 last month. No new units sold for over $500,000 out of 162 active. 14 out of 1,057 active used homes over $500,000 sold in the month (See Page A-14). The average used house price decreased to $203,331 from $218,540 in January.

TWB 3/15/2009

*All references to last month numbers are revised to pick up late entries (made after our prior publication date) to the MLS system.


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