Baldwin County MLS* Observations for the month of March 2009: Real Estate Statistics for the Baldwin County, Alabama Coastal Areas:
Sales in March improved by 32% to $56,502,052 from the $42,906,517 reported in February. (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. Of the three areas we cover this is the only one to show this “flattening” of the downward curve. This could well be due to the extreme correction that has already occurred. 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, but total sales are still off 28% from the same month last year 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 increases in sales for most price ranges. There were some sales in the upper ranges for Used homes indicating that there are some bargain hunters in the market. Even with the modest improvement, sales remain dismal and slightly above 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 25% to 266 vs. 213 last month. Used house sales improved by 30% to 239 vs. 184 last month. New house unit sales decreased to 27 from 29 last month (Sect A P. 18).
New listings for new houses increased in March to 45 from 37 in February. New listings are running slightly ahead of sales of new houses (Chart Section C P1 and Table Sect A P18). Used houses New listings increased to 835 this month from 744 in February. 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 March, there were 5,059 used homes a 19% reduction from the peak. The new house market which peaked out in September 2006 at 2,144 active, and 596 in February 2009 now sits at 553, a 74% reduction from the peak. There were 5,059 Used Active houses in March, a slight decrease from 5,251 in February.
The Absorption rate for new houses was 10.4 months of inventory for March vs. 10.8 in February. The Absorption rate for used houses was 22.6 months of inventory for March vs. 23.3 in February. (See Section A Page 17).
Average sales price for new units increased to $246,082 from $199,029 last month. Life is still very difficult for those trying to sell higher priced homes, and inventory continues to climb. See the tables for details. (See Page A-14). The average used house price increased to $208,610 from $201,819 in February.
*All references to last month numbers are revised to pick up late entries (made after our prior publication date) to the MLS system.