Birmingham Area Real Estate Sales Remain Weak In August

Jefferson County courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama

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Birmingham Area MLS* Monthly Observations for August 2010

Sales in August improved 3% to $155,252,286 in August from July’s $151,080,627. This is a decline of 18% from last August, at $189,213,255. As we head into the seasonally weaker part of the year, it is distressing to point out that this is the worst sales level for August in the last 10 years by a large margin. The twelve month moving average of total dollar sales chart has a downward hook.

Total unit sales were down 4% at 909 in August from 951 in July, a decrease of 42. This is a 20% reduction from August 2009 at 1,131. New sales improved 34% to 126 homes this month from 94 in July, an increase of 23 units. Used sales deteriorated 9% to 783 homes in August from 857 last month, a decrease of 74 (Sect E p.3).

Inventory continues to increase for Used homes. The month of July showed the highest number of Active  Used homes ever at 12,990. (I’m using last month since agents tend to renew listings quite late so the current month is almost always lower, which presents a somewhat overly “rosy” picture, if it can be called that.) This month total inventory is up 1% from last year at 13,550 vs. 13,394.

Active New listings decreased to 1,214 in August from 1,426 in July, a decline of 212 units (Sect E p.3). The number of housing permits has decreased to 45 in July vs. 69 in the prior month for Jefferson County. Shelby County increased somewhat (See the web site for details). New inventory is now well below the 1,800 level which reflects more normal pre-2004 levels. Absorption rate for New homes with 6.7 months supply at the reduced sales pace, is better than the 9.4 months last year at this time (Sect E p.3).. With the heavy Used inventory, and low sales levels, I would not be in a rush to build! (Sect C p.1 compare to last month and Sect E p.3.) New house inventories in higher price ranges (above $500,000) remain excessive at over a year. This has been grim for some time.

Absorption for Used homes in August 2010 shows 12,336 Used Active listings (Sect E p.3) and 13.4 months of supply. This is slightly worse than the 12.8 months of supply last year at this time (Sect E p.3). The higher price ranges are doing poorly and deteriorating as new listings add to the oversupply. The market for houses requiring “Jumbo” loans remains stagnant.  It is distressing that a number of more affluent areas are getting more new listings. Homewood, Area 230, is one dramatic example, with used inventory now 377, very close to April’s all-time high of 402, a 15 month supply. Mountain Brook, Area 200, has 285 Used homes for sale, a 15 month supply.

Birmingham area Average Days on Market for New houses was 202 compared to last month at 218. The Used homes DOM was 130 in August, compared with 129 last month (Sect A p.18).
Average sales price for Sold New homes increased to $237,381 from $236,083 last month (Sect A p2). Average sales prices for Sold Used homes increased to $160,080 from $150,395 last month (Sect A p2). The twelve month moving average price line for both New and Used homes is heading down, reflecting that most sales activity continues to be on the lower end of the market. There are small signs of change with some increase in more expensive homes. (Sect A p2). It’s hard to read too much into average prices with the shifting mix.

TWB 9/11/10


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