Birmingham September Residential Sales Healthy

Birmingham Area MLS* Monthly Observations for September 2016

The last few months have seen a dramatic pick up in dollar sales over last year; some of this volume has been recorded well after the month end reports, but since we re-run full history every month it is now apparent. Inventories are not decreasing as is more normal for this time of year, something I’ve just noticed but have no idea of what it might portend. Prices seem to be increasing. Total dollar sales for September were $325,746,199 up 8% from $300,969,446 last year, and down 10% from last month at $362,170,910.

Total Unit sales were off 16% to 1,514 in September from 1,799 in August, a decrease of 285. This is down  by 2% and 33 from last September at 1,547. New sales were up to the highest level in over a year at 227 homes this month, and 156 in August, and up by 43 from 184 last year. The low inventory level of new homes suggests a good environment for builders, and prices have begun to show a more solid uptrend. Used sales were 1,287 homes in September, off 22% from 1,643 last month, a decrease of 356,  and off by 76 units  from 1,363 last year (Sect E p.3). Expect late sales reports to improve this result next month.

ACRE numbers are slightly different from those we report. With ACRE, we released our month by month 2016 forecast which can be seen here: ACRE. For Birmingham, the full year projection for 2016 = 13,460, a 1.25% difference from 2015 actual of 13,294.  August overperformed the projection. The cumulative error is plus 9% year to date; that is actuals are running ahead of projections (through August).

Housing permits for August are a bit less than last year. For Jefferson County, in August there were 80 permits compared with 130 last year. Shelby County was somewhat higher than last year’s level (see the web site).

Total inventory is slightly lower this month at 9,138 vs. last month at 9,246 and less than 10,107 last year. As mentioned above, it is curious that we don’t seem to be seeing the more normal seasonal reduction of inventory which has been remarkably stable since the beginning of the year without the normal uptick we usually see in the summer either (Sect C p.1). I’d guess that it is an indication of market equilibrium, as the months of inventory have stabilized at about the 6 month level. Active New listings decreased to 1,072 in September from 1,118 in August (Sect E p.3). Absorption rate for New homes is at 7 months supply this month, which is even with 7 months last year. (Sect E p.3). The New homes have normal inventory levels in the 4-8 month range depending on area and price range. (Sect C p.1). The level of inventory, both in months of inventory and housing units, has been continuing to improve for the year.

Absorption for Used homes in September shows 6 months, which is less than the 7 last year. Used Active listings at 8,066 are up from last month of 8,128, and quite a bit less than 9,207 last year (Sect E p.3). Inventory levels have continued to trend down from prior years. Market performance is highly area specific, so check the individual area charts. For instance, Mountain Brook has between 1 and 5 months of inventory except in the over $900,000 category, which has 11 months of inventory (54 homes), with 6 sold in that price range last month. There are a number of MLS areas showing similarly low levels of inventory, including Homewood (only 3 months of inventory).

Birmingham area Average Days on Market for New houses is 190 compared with last month at 208. The Used homes DOM was 109 in September vs 111 last month, (Sect A p.18). Average sales price for Sold New homes decreased to $288,460 from $318,558 last month (Sect A p2), over a several month period though prices seem to be increasing. Average sales price for Sold Used was $215,156 this month compared to $201,318 last month. (Sect A p2).

All in all, the market continues to look quite healthy.
TWB 10/12/2016


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