Birmingham Area MLS* Monthly Observations for March 2016
This year seems to be unfolding almost identically to last, as far as sales levels go. Inventories are down, and prices seem to be level with last year as well. Dollar sales in March experienced an expected increase of 29% to $274,938,104 from February at $213,696,545, a bit less than last March’s $280,039,512 (off 2%). The 12 month moving average line for total dollar sales over the last five months has flattened.
Total Unit sales were up 20% to 1,424 in March from 1,156 in February, an increase of 268. This is up by 4 from last March at 1,120. New sales were up at 162 homes this month, and 138 in February and up by 14 from 148 last year. The low inventory levels of new homes suggest a good environment for builders, although prices seem to be steady. Used sales were 1,264 homes in March, up 24% from 1,018 last month, an increase of 246, and off by 10 units from 1,272 last year (Sect E p.3).
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. February overperformed the projection with actual sales resulting in an error of +1 percent for the month, and a cumulative error of .47% year to date (thru Feb).
Housing permits, the census bureau section that supplies this data, has been down for two months now. I’ll update the website as soon as that data becomes available. Still, it seems to me that builders and banks are being very cautious on new construction.
Total inventory is slightly higher this month at 9,599 vs. last month at 8,924 and less than 9,833 last year. Active New listings decreased to 1027 in March from 1,101 in February (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 for the most part have normal inventory levels in the 1-9 month range depending on area and price range. However, the $800,000-$900,000 range has 15 months of supply (10 houses) (Sect C p.1). This level of inventory, both in months of inventory and housing units has been continuing to improve for the year.
Absorption for Used homes in March shows 7 months, which is the same as 7 last year. Used Active listings at 8,572 are up from last month at 7,841, and a bit less than 8,803 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 $6-700,000 range (10 months of inventory), and the over $900,000 category, which has 15 months of inventory (50 homes), with 2 sold in that price range last month . There are a number of MLS areas showing similarly low levels of inventory, including Homewood (only 4 months of inventory).
Birmingham area Average Days on Market for New houses is 203 compared with last month at 186. The Used homes DOM was 128 in March vs 137 last month, (Sect A p.18). Average sales price for Sold New homes decreased to $280,264 from $285,855 last month (Sect A p2), and prices seem to be flat over the last year. Average sales price for Sold Used homes increased to $181,882 from $171,168 last month (Sect A p2). The moving average price for all homes has flattened for the past year. (Sect A p2).