A Slow Start in the New Year for Coastal Real Estate

Baldwin County MLS* & Alabama Coastal Areas: Observations for the Month of January 2011

January is almost always the slowest month of the year; this year dollar sales declined 22% to $52,656,531 from December’s $67,251,226. This is 21% above January last year which was $43,647,037. This is modestly encouraging (Sect A p.2). As a result, the 12 month moving average line of sales is flat with a slight upward bias. Since January is such a slow seasonal month, one should not read too much into any of this month’s numbers. Sales results within the area varied widely with several coastal areas showing some improvement.

The chart in Section A p.18 has been showing substantial inventory reduction for seven months, not so much from sales as people not putting properties on the market. The abnormally large drop in inventory at year end, (noted last month), is due to expired listings which have not been renewed. The reduction in Active listings, will probably help the market somewhat. Inventories remain very high. Used inventory is now at 4,000, a full 2,000 below August 2008, but the sales level has also shrunk dramatically. The number of Active listings is at the lowest level since early 2006, which is positive (more below).

The 12 month moving average line of unit sales for Used homes had a pronounced upward slope through six months ago. But with the spill, it had been showing a slight downward trend due to the size and counter cyclical nature of the sales drop. This month, however, the line has begun to point up. On a unit basis, sales of all houses declined, in line with the dollar sales, down 18% to 265 this month vs. 324 last month, which is 20% better than last year’s 221.

Used house unit sales were down to 246 from 296 last month. New home unit sales declined to 19 from 28 last month (Sect A p.18). The low number of sales of New homes reflects the intense competition from existing, and an extended slowdown of new construction.

New listings for New homes increased to 34 in January from 9 in December. Used houses New listings increased to 607 this month from 152 in December. This could be a concern going forward.

The absolute number of Used Active homes on the market, which had a slight peak mid-summer of ‘09, has once again started to improve slightly. In January, there were 3,867 Active Used homes, a 8% reduction from 4,204 in December. The New home market, which peaked in January 2006 at 2,144 Active, now sits at 331.

The Absorption rate for New homes was 11 months of inventory for January vs. 12 in December. The Absorption rate for Used homes was 13 months of inventory for January vs. 15 in December. (Sect A p.17).

Average sales price for all homes has been trending down. For New units, prices decreased to $214,437 from $238,779 last month. Life is still very difficult for those trying to sell higher priced homes, and while there is some reduction in absolute numbers of listings, the months of inventory continues to climb. (Sect A p.14). Average Used home price decreased to $197,489 from $204,613 in December. Seven Used homes in the over $900,000 price range sold, which is a notable positive change. Average Days On Market for New Sold properties in January was 322 this month vs. 238 last month. Days On Market for Used was 212 this month vs. 183 last month.

TWB 2/13/2011


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