Huntsville/North Alabama Area MLS Observations Huntsville, Alabama Residential Real Estate Market April 2010:
Total dollar sales jumped 11% from March to April on top of last months’ 61% jump. April sales were $133,185,390 vs. March $120,009,500. This was 22% higher than last year $109,172,524. This was helped by the expiring tax credit and the strong seasonal spring trend. 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 positive however, as new listings are pouring onto the market.
Total unit sales increased from 798 in March to 863 in April, an increase of 65 (an 8% change).
New sales increased from 136 homes last month to 174 this month, an increase of 38.
Used sales increased from 662 homes last month to 689 this month, an increase of 27 (Sect E p.3).
The greater increase in total dollar sales over unit sales reflects some increase in activity in the higher priced segments of the market, which also shows in increased average prices.
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. There were no home sales over $700,000 this month, out of 242 listed.
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).
There seems to be a large number of housing permits issued, given the market conditions. There were 104 new single family housing permits issued (March), up from 89 in February 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. 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 3% this month to 8,943, compared to last months’ 9,179 but 6% greater than last year at this time , 8,445.(Sect A p.4 and Sect E p.3). (This will increase when reported next month.) New houses New listings are 1.9 times the rate of sales (Sect B p.1). Active New listings decreased from 1,690 last month to 1,360 in April, down 330. Sales were only 169 with the rest of the reduction due to expirations, which will come back on the market. (Sect E p.3). Active Used listings increased from 7,559 last month to 7,583 this month, a new record, up 24. This is also above last year’s level at this time (6,674) (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. In most price ranges, except the low-end, inventory is building faster than sales. How does construction continue at such a level?
Absorption for New homes was at 9 months of inventory in April. 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 April 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 192 vs. 188 days last month, with Used at 137 in April compared with 140 in March (Sect A p.18).
Average sales price for Sold New homes was $226,601 vs. $225,455 last month. (Sect A p.2)
Average sales price for Sold Used homes was $136,077 vs. $134,966 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.