Baldwin County MLS* Observations for the month of April 2009: Real Estate Statistics for the Baldwin County, Alabama Coastal Areas:
Sales in April improved by 14% to $67,768,585 from March’s $59,241,302 (see page A-2). We have now seen three months of increasing activity, 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 the coast 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 for April were actually about the same as last year. 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 are still slow. 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 16% to 316 vs. 273 last month. Used house sales improved by 19% to 293 vs. 246 last month. New house unit sales decreased to 23 from 27 last month (Sect A P. 18).
New listings for new houses remained at 48 in April the same as in March. New listings are running ahead of sales of new houses (Chart Section C P1 and Table Sect A P18). Used houses New listings decreased to 782 this month from 851 in March. 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 April, there were 5,075 used homes a 19% reduction from the peak. The new house market which peaked out in September 2006 at 2,144 active, now sits at 514, a 76% reduction from the peak. There were 5,075 Used Active houses in April, a decrease from 5,410 in March.
The Absorption rate for new houses was 10 months of inventory for April vs. 11 in March. The Absorption rate for used houses was 22 months of inventory for April vs. 24 in March. (See Section A Page 17).
Average sales price for new units increased to $265,188 from $246,082 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 decreased to $214,458 from $217,001 in March.
*All references to last month numbers are revised to pick up late entries (made after our prior publication date) to the MLS system.