Huntsville/North Alabama Area MLS Observations Huntsville, Alabama Residential Real Estate Market March 2010:
Spring is here! Total dollar sales jumped from February to March 61% in March ($117,837,400) vs. February ($73,115,570). This was 10% higher than last year ($107,145,489). The twelve month moving average line on the total dollar sales chart shows a highly unusual “squiggle”. At least the last segment now points up. All is not rosy however, as new listings are pouring on to the market.
Total unit sales increased from 506 in February to 782 in March, an increase of 276.
New sales increased from 108 homes last month to 134 this month, an increase of 26.
Used sales increased from 398 homes last month to 648 this month, an increase of 250 (Sect E p.3).
Used inventory levels remain high. Used homes are 12 months of inventory in all price ranges. The inventory situation remains even more challenged in the higher price ranges. Used homes over $200,000 are now at 19 months of inventory, and in some price ranges as much as 9 years of inventory. Prices continue to be pressured.
New houses are at 9 months of inventory, and homes priced greater than $400,000 are over a year’s worth of inventory, and in some price ranges over 8 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 89 new single family housing permits issued (February), up from 62 in January in Huntsville City, according to the Census Department. This permit level is above the sales level for the comparable area. I have received comments that this might be due to tract builders who do not list in MLS, and indeed that may be a factor, but MLS still accounts for the vast majority of New (and Used) homes sold. This month the Huntsville city areas showed 49 new sales, and 110 New listings for New homes…which lines up fairly well with the past permit data, and seems to line up fairly well with the absolute inventory levels in this report. The months of inventory calculation removes the issue of MLS vs. non MLS data since it is all based on MLS, and is a ratio of that data. New home inventory remains high.
Total Active listings decreased by 4% this month at 8,519, compared to last month at 8,838 (Sect A p.4 and Sect E p.3). (I expect this will increase when reported next month.) New houses New listings ran 2.4 times the rate of sales (Sect B p.1). Active New listings decreased from 1,690 last month to 1,324 this month, down 366; given that sales were only 126 the rest of the reduction was mainly due to expirations, which will come back on the market. (Sect E p.3). Active Used listings increased from 7,148 last month to 7,195 this month, up 47 this is also above last years level at this time (11,171) (Sect E p.3).
As this spring begins, the used inventory level is higher than last year. The BRAC realignment will not cure the market, particularly in light of other employment problems. How does construction continue at such a level?
Absorption for New homes was at 9 months of inventory in March. This is better than 11 months, last year at this time (Sect E p.8). Absorption for Used homes was 12 months of inventory in March which is even with 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 188 vs. 171 days last month, with Used at 140 in March compared with 146 in February (Sect A p.18)
Average sales price for Sold New homes was $226,407 vs. $207,124 last month. (Sect A p.2)
Average sales price for Sold Used homes was $135,029 vs. $127,503 last month. (Sect A p.2)
The twelve month moving average line of prices for New homes has a decidedly negative slope, indicating that prices are truly coming down. Used prices seem to have leveled off a bit, which is encouraging. 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.