Birmingham Area MLS* Monthly Observations for March 2014
As expected, March was stronger than February. Dollar sales in March improved by 31% to $220,515,718 from February’s $167,857,300, up by 10% from last March’s $201,048,652. The 12 month moving average line for total dollar sales continues to move up indicating improving market conditions. It seems that the slow start for the year due to weather is behind us, and we are seeing more normal results. Across all indicators, sales levels, average prices and inventory levels it appears that the market has regained “normalcy” as distinguished from the crisis atmosphere of last few years.
Unit sales were up 26% at 1229 in March from 970 in February, an increase of 259. This is up 4% from last March at 1180. The greater percentage increase in dollars than units indicates an increase in average prices.
This year we are using the ACRE data and results for forecasting, which are derived in a slightly different method than this report. The time frame for the reports is now in the control of ACRE. Overall for the Birmingham market (based on the ACRE data), we expect unit sales for 2014 to be up by 8.2% over 2013. We therefore still expect some further market improvement.
New sales improved by 31 units to 146 homes this month from 115 in February and up from 125 last year. Used sales improved 27% to 1,083 homes in March from 855 last month, an increase of 228, and up by 28 units from 1,055 last year(Sect E p.3).
This month total inventory is 5% lower at 8,607 vs. last month at 9,041 and 9,741 last year. The drop in the current month is caused by month-end expirations which should come back on the market. We are seeing a seasonal downtick in inventory which is slightly lower than prior years. Active New listings decreased to 725 in March from 1,009 in February (the highest level since September 2011), a decline of 284 units (Sect E p.3). Housing permits were up considerably in Jefferson County to 101 in February from 65 in January. Shelby County went from 5 to 30 in February. This is indicating considerable builder optimism.
Absorption rate for New homes is at 6 months supply this month which is two months better than last year at this time. Last month though, shows 7 months of supply (Sect E p.3). The New homes for the most part have normal inventory levels in the 1-7 month range. (Sect C p.1 and Sect E p.3.)
Absorption for Used homes in March shows 8 months, two months better than 9 months last year. Used Active listings at 8,343 are lower than the 9,147 last year (Sect E p.3). The market performance is highly area specific, so check the individual area charts. For instance, Mountain Brook has about three months of inventory except in the over $900,000 category, which has 9 months of inventory (34 homes) with three sold in that price range last month . The average days on market for that category is 447.
Birmingham area Average Days on Market for New houses is 231, compared with 220 last month. The Used homes DOM was 137 in March, compared with 149 last month (Sect A p.18). Average sales price for Sold New homes increased to $281,110 from $275,740 last month (Sect A p2). Average sales price for Sold Used homes increased to $165,719 from $159,237 last month (Sect A p2). The moving average price for all Homes has been up steadily for the last year. (Sect A p2).