August 2009, Huntsville, North Alabama, Residential Sales Fall

Huntsville/North Alabama Area MLS Observations Huntsville, Alabama Residential Real Estate Market August 2009:

Huntsville, North Alabama market fell substantially in August coming in  23% below July results. This is about the same as August 2003. This is a substantial deterioration in the sales pattern. It is highly likely given the strong seasonal trends, that sales will continue to deteriorate for the remainder of the year. August total dollar sales were $$119,601,581, compared with $155,332,932 in July, and 22% below last year’s level of $152,611,089 (Sect A  p.4).

Total unit sales decreased from 870 in July to 695 in August, an increase of 175.

New sales decreased from 182 homes last month to 128 this month, a decrease of 54.

Used sales decreased from 688 homes last month to 567 this month, a decrease of 121 (Sect E  p.3).

A disturbing trend: while we have been reporting total inventory numbers as going down pretty much month after month, a close look at the data reveals that the opposite has been happening. This is due to the date sensitivity of how listings are recorded and when during the month they get renewed (call me if you want the details). For the last 7 months (and probably this month also when we look again next month) the used inventory level has been climbing. Looking at the prior 4 months of inventory figures they were all records. Used homes are 12 months of inventory in all price ranges. The inventory situation remains challenged in the higher price ranges. Used homes over $200,000 are now at over 18 months of inventory, and in some price ranges as much as 7 years of inventory.

New houses over $400,000 are over a year’s worth of inventory, and in some price ranges over six years of inventory. (E-1).  I have noted on the web site what seems to be a large number of housing permits issued, given the market conditions. There were 105 new single family housing permits issued (July) up from 82 in the prior month in Huntsville city according to the Census department.

Total Active listings decreased by 6% this month at 8,408 compared to last month at 8,868 (Sect A p.4 and Sect E p.3). (Given the note above, I expect this will increase when reported next month.) New houses New listings ran 2.7 times the rate of sales (Sect B p.1). Active New listings decreased from 1,817 last month to 1,566 this month, down 251 (Sect E p.3). Active Used listings decreased from 7,051 last month to 6,842 this month, down 209 (Sect E p.3).

Given the high number of homes for sale (over 8,000), the BRAC realignment will not cure the market, particularly in light of other employment problems. What banks are funding construction?

Absorption for New homes remained at 11 months of inventory in August. This is a deterioration of 1 month from last year at this time (Sect E p.8). Absorption for Used homes was 12 months of inventory in August same as last month. This is a deterioration of 2.5 months from last year’s level at this time (Sect E  p.8).

Average Days on Market for Sold New houses was 89 days vs. 127 days last month, with Used at 121  vs. 113 last month. (Sect A p.18).

Average sales price for Sold New homes was $238,466 vs. $230,238 last month. (Sect A p.2)

Average sales price for Sold Used homes was $147,342 vs. $159,159 last month. (Sect A p.2)

The mix of higher and lower priced homes is jumping around quite a bit so it’s hard to read too much into average prices. However, it is worth noting that the average price 12 month moving averages are all pointing down.

It will be an interesting Fall season (and not just football), stay tuned!

TWB 9/13/09


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