Turning Point? Huntsville November ’09 Real Estate Report

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

For a third month in a row, the Huntsville, North Alabama market performed substantially better than expected. In November sales were 5% below October results. November total dollar sales were $135,641,994 compared with $143,114,386 in October, and 69%(!!) above last year’s level of $80,426,923 (Sect A  p.4). The twelve month moving average line on the total dollar sales chart has taken a decided turn upwards. This could mark a real turning point in the market.

November '09 Huntsville Sales

November '09 Huntsville Sales

Total unit sales decreased from 889 in October to 841 in November, a decrease of 48.

New sales increased from 186 homes last month to 199 this month, an increase of 13.

Used sales decreased from 703 homes last month to 642 this month, a decrease of 61 (Sect E  p.3).

While the sales trend is been very encouraging, a disturbing trend is evident. While we have been reporting total inventory numbers as going down 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 10 months (it was somewhat better this month), the used inventory level has been climbing. For the last 6 months inventory has been setting records. Used homes are 11 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 17 months of inventory, and in some price ranges as much as 7 years of inventory. Prices are under pressure.

New houses are at 10 months of inventory, and homes priced greater than $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 63 new single family housing permits issued (October) down from 70 in the prior month in Huntsville city according to the Census department. This permit level is still above the sales level for the comparable area.

Total Active listings decreased by 7% this month at 8,020 compared to last month at 8,597 (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 1.4 times the rate of sales (Sect B p.1). Active New listings decreased from 1,642 last month to 1,474 this month, down 168 (Sect E p.3). Active Used listings decreased from 6,937 last month to 6,546 this month, down 391 (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 was at 10 months of inventory in November. This is better than the 12 months last year at this time (Sect E p.8). Absorption for Used homes was 11 months of inventory in November an improvement of 1 from last month. This is a deterioration of 1 month from last year’s level at this time (Sect E  p.8).

Average Days on Market for Sold New houses was 101 days vs. 88 days last month, with Used at 110 vs. 114 last month. (Sect A p.18).

Average sales price for Sold New homes was $222,904 vs. $221,442 last month. (Sect A p.2)

Average sales price for Sold Used homes was $142,187 vs. $144,987 last month. (Sect A p.2)

The twelve month moving average line of prices for both new and used homes has a decidedly negative slope, indicating that prices are truly coming down. 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.

TWB 12/14/09


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