Birmingham Area MLS* Monthly Observations for April 2015
Dollar sales in April experienced a better than expected seasonal improvement of 7% to $292,262,727 from March’s $273,508,424, up by 12% over last April’s of $262,916,981. The increase over last year in the last four months indicates a strong spring season. The 12 month moving average line for total dollar sales is continuing to show a very steady upward trend indicating consistent growth.
Total Unit sales were up 4% to 1,439 in April from 1,387 in March, an increase of 52. This is up 2% from last April at 1414. The larger rise in dollar sales than unit sales indicates improving pricing, and suggests the lower inventory levels are making it more of a seller’s market. New sales decreased by 10 units to 132 homes this month from 142 in March and off from 134 last year. The price pressure and low inventory levels of new homes suggests a good environment for builders. Used sales were 1,307 homes in April, up 5% from 1,245 last month, an increase of 62, and up by 2% or 27 units from 1,280 last year(Sect E p.3).
ACRE numbers are slightly different from those we report. With ACRE, we released our 2015 forecast which can be seen here. We expect the Birmingham area to be 6% above 2014 levels. So this month’s unit increase of 4% is behind the projection. Based on what I am seeing, I expect substantial market gains. I also expect to see a healthy increase in new construction, the beginnings of which we can see in permits below.
Total inventory is 2% higher at 10,281 vs. last month at 10,093 and 1% more than the 10,194 last year. Active New listings decreased to 943 in April from 1,253 in March, a decline of 31 units (Sect E p.3).
Housing permits were up in Jefferson County to 125 in March from 98 in February, which is down from 133 last year. Shelby County went from 45 to 50 in March, up from 38 last year. I expect this pace to pick-up. We are seeing a more significant number of multi-family construction units (which we do not formally track or report) in most markets.
Absorption rate for New homes is at 6.7 months supply this month, which is up slightly from 6.1 months last year at this time. Last month though, shows 8.9 months of supply (Sect E p.3). The New homes for the most part have normal inventory levels in the 1-7 month range depending on area and price range. (Sect C p.1 and Sect E p.3.)
Absorption for Used homes in April shows 8 months, even with 8 months last year. Used Active listings at 9,338 are up slightly from last month at 8,840 and lower than the 9,363 last year (Sect E p.3). Market performance is highly area specific, so check the individual area charts. For instance, Mountain Brook has about 6 months of inventory except in the over $900,000 category, which has 9 months of inventory (49 homes), with 2 sold in that price range last month . The average days on market for that category is 95. There are a number of MLS areas showing similarly low levels of inventory, including Homewood and Centerpoint.
Birmingham area Average Days on Market for New houses is 198 compared with last month at 210. The Used homes DOM was 122 in April vs 130 last month, (Sect A p.18). Average sales price for Sold New homes increased to $317,178 from $291,673 last month (Sect A p2). Average sales price for Sold Used homes increased to $191,580 from $186,418 last month (Sect A p2). The moving average price for all homes has been up steadily for the past year. (Sect A p2).