Lackluster Sales in Peak Season for Alabama Coast, Bottom in Sight?

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

Sales in May improved by 10% to $76,037,703 from April’s $69,309,655 (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. Unfortunately we would have liked to see somewhat more robust sales this month the month to month sales increase was somewhat weak as compared with more normal times. There are still big risks ahead; but, there is also the possibility that things won’t be getting a lot worse from here.

May Baldwin Overall Sales Dollars

May Baldwin Overall Sales Dollars

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 4% to 335 vs. 323 last month. Used house unit sales were flat, 296 vs. 297 last month. New house unit sales increased to 39 from 26 last month (Sect A P. 18).

May Baldwin Sales by Month

May Baldwin Sales by Month

New listings for new houses declined somewhat to 39 in May a bit lower than April. New listings were even with sales of new houses, for the 1st time in a while, an improvement (Chart Section C P1 and Table Sect A P18). Used houses New listings increased to 819 this month from 784 in April. 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 May, there were 5,098 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 77% reduction from the peak. There were 5,098 Used Active houses in May, a decrease from 5,354 in April.

The Absorption rate for new houses was 9 months of inventory for May vs. 11 in April.  The Absorption rate for used houses was 22 months of inventory for May vs. 23 in April. (See Section A Page 17).

Average sales price for new units decreased to $206,218 from $260,685 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 $229,713 from $210,545 in April.

TWB 6/14/2009

*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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