Slow Start to Spring Sales On the Alabama Coast

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

This month dollar sales improved a tepid less than 1% to $69,831,229 from February’s $69,394,255. This is 12% below March last year at $79,516,428 and is discouraging (Sect A p.2). Nonetheless, the 12 month moving average line of sales is pretty flat. Normally there is a substantial jump in March from February as the spring sales season begins.

The chart in Section A p.18 has been showing substantial inventory reduction for ten months, but not so much from sales as people not listing properties. The reduction in Active listings will probably help the market somewhat. Inventories remain very high. Used inventory is now below 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. For the last several months, the line has begun to point up. On a unit basis, sales of all houses improved more than dollar sales, up 15% to 380 this month vs. 330 last month, which is 3% off from last year’s 390.

Used house unit sales were up to 347 from 312 last month. With a very large jump in under $100,000 properties and $100,000-$200,000 properties, there were for instance 97 under 100,000 properties sold this month compared with 68 last month. There was no single area dominating the increase. New home unit sales improved to 33 from 18 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 slightly to 47 from 40 in February. Used houses New listings remained at 748 this month (net inventory was still down). We have not seen a dramatic increase in spring listings yet.

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 March, there were 3,883 Active Used homes, a 11% reduction from 4,339 in February. The New home market, which peaked in March 2006 at 2,144 Active, now sits at 337.

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

Average sales price for all homes had been trending down, but now is showing some signs of stability. For New units, prices increased to $217,950 from $213,320 last month. (Sect A p.14). Average Used home price decreased to $180,516 from $210,111 in February. Over the last three months Six Used homes in the over $900,000 price range sold each month, which is a notable positive change. It seems that word is out though, and there were 30 new listings. Average Days On Market for New Sold properties in March was 240 this month vs. 254 last month. Days On Market for Used was 173 this month vs. 204 last month.

TWB 4/11/2011


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