Alabama Coastal Real Estate begins to look up?

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

Last year at this time I began to discuss how I though that things were improving in Alabama coastal real estate. The following month the oil spill happened. This year I am seeing the same positive pattern emerge, so hopefully with no disasters we should see a decent market. This month dollar sales improved a reasonable 17% to $84,121,723 from March’s $72,067,530. This is 3% below April last year at $87,171,023 and is encouraging (Sect A p.2). The 12 month moving average line of sales is pretty flat.

The chart in Section A p.18 has been showing substantial inventory reduction for eleven 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 continues to drop, which is positive (more below).

The 12 month moving average line of unit sales for Used homes had a pronounced upward slope through seven months ago. But with the spill, it had been showing a slight downward trend. For the last several months, the line has begun to point up. On a unit basis, sales of all houses improved, up 11% to 388 this month vs. 351 last month, which is 10% off from last year’s 429.

Used house unit sales were up 14% to 363 from 318 last month. New home unit sales declined to 25 from 33 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 decreased to 32 from 47 in March. Used houses New listings remained at 766 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 been improving. In April, there were 3,968 Active Used homes, a 8% reduction from 4,333 in March. The New home market, which peaked in April 2006 at 2,144 Active, now sits at 333.

The Absorption rate for New homes was 12 months of inventory for April vs. 12 in March. The Absorption rate for Used homes was 14 months of inventory for April vs. 15 in March. (Sect A p.17).

Average sales price for all homes has been quite stable for the past year. For New units, prices increased to $223,203 from $217,950 last month. (Sect A p.14). Average Used home prices increased to $202,373 from $182,234 in March. Over the last four months Six Used homes in the over $900,000 price range sold each month, and eight this month, which is a notable positive change. It seems that word is out though, and there were 22 new listings in this price range. Average Days On Market for New Sold properties in April was 342 this month vs. 240 last month. Days On Market for Used was 198 this month vs. 173 last month. I regard the increase in days on market as a good sign indicating that older inventory is moving.

TWB 5/16/2011


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