Birmingham February Real Estate Sales: Chilly

Birmingham Area MLS* Monthly Observations for February 2010

February residential sales were $112,006,665 up 2.1% from January, at $109,663,810. That is a decline of 26% from last February ($151,308,494), and is also the 2nd lowest dollar sales for any month since 2001. It is the smallest percentage increase January to February ever. So, as predicted last month we did get an increase, but way less than expected. Good news is coming, I hope! March has for ten years at least, been better than February, so the outlook for sales next month is better. The twelve month moving average line on the total dollar sales chart has begun to deteriorate again. It could be a rough spring..

Total unit sales improved by 11% to 789 in February from 713 in January, an increase of 76. This is a 16% reduction from February 2009 (934). New sales declined 11% to 101 homes this month from 113 in January, a deterioration of 12 units. Used sales improved 15% to 688 homes in February from 600 last month, an increase of 88 (Sect E p.3).

A somewhat seasonally normal, inventory increase in both New and Used homes is underway. For this month total inventory is down 6% from last year at this time at 12,413 vs. 13,170. Active New listings decreased to 1,406 in February from 1,665 in January, a decline of 259 units (Sect E p.3). In January it appears that builders increased permits. The number of housing permits has increased slightly in the area (51 in January vs. 45 in the prior month for Jefferson County). Shelby County also increased slightly (See the web site for details). New inventory is now below the 1,800 level which reflects more normal pre-2004 levels, which is still an uncomfortable 7.8 months supply at the reduced sales pace. In light of the heavy Used inventory, and low sales levels, I would not be in a rush to build! (Sect C p.1, (compare it to last month) and Sect E p.3).

For both New and Used homes the months of inventory has begun to creep up which is hopefully just be a seasonal phenomena. Absorption rate for New homes improved to 7.8 months of inventory, and is better than 8.6 months last year at this time (Sect E p.3). New house inventories in the higher price ranges (above $500,000) remain excessive at over a year, and that situation is getting worse as new listings come on, and sales continue to be sluggish.

February 2010 shows 11,007 Used Active listings (Sect E p.3). Absorption for Used homes at 12.1 months of supply. This is worse than the 11.3 months of supply last year at this time (Sect E p.3). As with the New home market, the higher price ranges are doing poorly, and deteriorating.

The market for houses requiring “Jumbo” loans remains challenged.

Birmingham area Average Days on Market for New houses remained about even with last month at 262. One way to look at DOM is that older inventory is beginning to move, so increases in this number are not all bad! The Used house DOM was 136 in February (Sect A p.18). (Note: we made a slight calculation fix in DOM so the number is not directly comparable to prior reports.)

Average sales price for Sold New homes increased to $233,499 from $228,960 last month (Sect A p2). Average sales prices for Sold Used homes decreased to $128,522 from $139,652 last month (Sect A p2). The twelve month moving average price line for All, New, and Used homes has begun head down.(Sect A p2). It’s hard to read too much into average prices with the continued absence of higher end sales.

TWB 3/13/10


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