Beginning Spring Sales Soft In Birmingham

Birmingham Area MLS* Monthly Observations for March 2011

Sales in March improved 36% to $154,622,296 from February’s $113,898,354, down 17% from last March’s $185,484,567. March historically shows substantial improvement over February. This year the month to month improvement is lackluster compared to prior years. It is disappointing to see sales below last year. We are seeing a slower ramp up in spring sales without the distortions caused by the tax credits last year.

Total unit sales were up 32% to 1,000 in March from 759 in February, an increase of 241. This is a 19% reduction from March 2010 at 1,242. New sales improved 24% to 99 homes this month from 80 in February, an increase of 19 units. Used sales improved 33% to 901 homes in March from 679 last month, an increase of 222 (Sect E p.3).

This month total inventory is somewhat lower at 12,379 vs. 13,626 last year. Active New listings decreased to 1,070 in March from 1,268 in February, a decline of 198 units (Sect E p.3). Housing permits showed a decrease in Jefferson County from 67 in January to 51 in February..

Absorption rate for New homes at a 8 months supply and a reduced sales pace, is about the same as last year at this time (Sect E p.3). While the situation is still  distressed, New homes seem to be selling, and supply is keeping in balance. Strangely, under $100,000 New homes are at 15 months of sales, while those priced from $200,000-$500,000 range from 5 to 8 months of inventory, a pretty “normal” situation in such abnormal times.. (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.

Absorption for Used homes in March 2011 shows 11,309 Used Active listings as a lower number than 13,626 last year, (Sect E p.3) which is still 13 months of supply, the same as last year at this time due to reduced sales levels (Sect E p.3). There are some signs of increasing listing activity, and a trend to higher inventories, as spring approaches.

Birmingham area Average Days on Market for New houses was 223 compared to last month at 213. The Used homes DOM was 139 in March, compared with 143 last month (Sect A p.18). An interesting side note is that the DOM for used homes under $700,000 is 180 days or less which indicates that well priced homes are moving in less than 6 months. The high months of inventory indicates that sellers, including bank owners, may still be holding out too much for higher prices .

Average sales price for Sold New homes decreased to $200,800 from $209,800 last month (Sect A p2). Average sales prices for Sold Used homes increased to $149,548 from $143,049 last month and $138,428 last year(Sect A p2). The twelve month moving average price line for Used homes has been quite steady since mid 2009. New homes prices continue to drift downward.(Sect A p2).

TWB 4/08/11


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