Category Archives: Tuscaloosa

ABRE Analytics: 2013 Forecast for Alabama Residential Sales

Last year, ABRE Analytics, a collaborative research partnership consisting of the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) and Tom Brander, began studying the correlation between unemployment rates and future real estate sales projections in selected markets across the State of Alabama.
Ala - 2012 Act vs Proj 2013.jpgView full sizeABRE Analytics: 2013 residential sales projections for selected real estate markets. All rights reserved.
With the release of the metro unemployment data for January 2013, ABRE Analytics is pleased to present our 2nd annual forecast stemming from this methodology and related commentary.
Area Full year 2011 Actual Full year 2012 Proj % chg from 2011 2012 Actual Err % Diff to proj Act 2012 % Diff to 2011 Forecast 2013 2013 F’cast to 2012 Act Method Unemp or last Q
Statewide 36965 41,992 14% 39280 -6% 6% 41,799 6% Last Q
Huntsville 8610 9,050 5% 9189 2% 7% 9,835 7% Unemp
Birmingham 12468 14,550 17% 13514 -7% 8% 14,571 8% Last Q
Auburn 1132 1,138 0% 1233 8% 9% 1,338 8% Last Q
Tuscaloosa 1743 1,826 5% 1735 -5% 0% 1,935 12% Unemp
Montgomery 2774 3,679 33% 3111 -15% 12% 3,342 7% Last Q

Note: the error bars are at +/- 10%

The above table summarizes last year’s results and our expectations for 2013. These predictions assume no “major events”. As expected with any new trends model in its inaugural trial run, the 2012 predictions were mixed. Alabama residential saleswere up 5.9 percent in 2012.

In Huntsville, the forecast was within 2% of the full year 2012 results. In the aggregate, the results pointed in the right direction right, but with some error so this led the team to explore some alternative approaches for this year’s predictions to improve accuracy. In the markets with the greatest error we revised our methods to use the last quarter of 2012 sales via straight line linear regression instead of the unemployment rate. This method appears to be more accurate in most markets historically and hopefully going forward.

With these adjustments, above is the overview of what ABRE Analytics think might happen in 2013. As for the projection of a 12% increase for Tuscaloosa that is out of line with the other markets, ABRE’s opinion is that this may be a little too optimistic, but we have yet to figure out a consistent method to arrive at a better projection for Tuscaloosa in 2013. Of course, the local market’s near-term response to the tornado of April 27, 2011 certainly has a role with the difficulty in identifying a projection that could be presented with more confidence. Last year we experienced a similar issue with Montgomery, which prompted us to develop the alternative methodology of using last quarter sales for predictions.

The method ABRE used for 2012 was based entirely on the January unemployment rate for a market area. The assumption was that the January unemployment rate eliminated the effect of holiday temporary work and would reflect the mood of the populace towards buying and selling a new home in the upcoming year. A standard linear regression line yielded a better than 80% correlation since 2004 in all areas. The standard error however is somewhat high. This method also has the benefit of using two longer term trends, unemployment and home sales, and only at a single point per year, which eliminates a lot of “noise” in both series.

The seasonal regularity of sales is such that if you know the total sales for a year, dividing the total by the average proportion of the yearly sales attributable to a month has shown to be remarkably stable. Exceptions to the regularity do occur, such as fiscal cliff drama and the tax credit for first time home buyers in 2009. ABRE eliminates this data when calculating the monthly spreads.

ABRE originally chose unemployment data as it is one of the more timely pieces of data released by the government, as well as being released by geographies that generally correspond to the reported real estate market areas. Other data from various government agencies are released so late as to not be timely enough for meaningful projections.

So, what ABRE presents is our best estimate of next year’s sales which specifically excludes the possible impact of unpredictable governmental action or inaction, although even this seems to be having less impact as both the populace and markets begin to ignore political histrionics. For what it is worth, ABRE did test everyone’s favorite housing predictor, interest rates, and could not find any useful correlation.

In each case ABRE experiments with prior years data to see how well the prediction methodology would have worked. We tried using the last quarter sales of the prior year to “regress” against the full year sales of the projected (next) year. This is based on the same premise that recent data may be indicative of future results.

In each case, except Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, this methodology (last quarter of the year to the following year) resulted in greater historical accuracy in predicting and considerably better correlation numbers. We did exclude 2010 from the analysis since the last quarter of 2009 had abnormally low sales, (although the full year sales were as expected), due to the 1st time homeowners tax credit that pulled sales into earlier quarters and depressed the year end.

Complete spreadsheets with all data are available as public Google spreadsheets, which also include month by month projections, at ABRE presents these projections as a “work in progress” and as a tool for assessing how well current sales are performing against some level of “informed” expectation. You should not rely on them, but nonetheless ABRE hopes the projections are found useful. ABRE welcomes comments and suggestions for improvement.

About ABRE Analytics: Strategic collaboration is one of the keys to accelerating the flow of insights in the 21st century. The Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) and Tom Brander has been successfully collaborating since 2009. The flow of ideas stemming from this relationship have led to solutions to better serve the Alabama real estate industry and consumers. ABRE (ACRE/Brander Real Estate) Analytics is designed to foster future creative thinking while also providing hands-on experience for student interns of ACRE.

About ACRE: ACRE’s core purpose is to advance the profession of real estate in Alabama by providing relevant resources in the areas of research, education and outreach. The Center, founded in 1996 by the Alabama Association of REALTORS, the Alabama Real Estate Commission and the Office of the Dean at UA’SCulverhouse College of Commerce, also acts as an industry liaison for the benefit of business school students pursuing a career in real estate. To learn more, please visit ourwebsite.
About Tom Brander: Tom Brander is a prominent real estate publisher. He produces The Rudulph/Brander Monthly Real Estate Report in the Birmingham, Huntsville and Baldwin County markets. His company, OSWCO, LLC (Open Software Company) is an authorized Google reseller. He has earned the Google apps sales consultant certification and the Google apps deployment certification, from Google. Tom also co-produces the ACRE quarterly Real Estate Sentiment Index and report in conjunction with ACRE. He is a designated ACRE Education Instructor and serves as a member of the ACRE Board of Trustees. To learn more, please visit

Mid Year Real Estate Review, Alabama

The slides below contain material from the mid year review and comparisons with projections, for the remainder of the year.

Real Estate Professionals More Optimistic As Summer Approaches

Summary The survey projects expectations for the 2nd quarter of 2012. The scale ranges from 0-100 with 0 being much worse, 100 being much better, and 50 indicating no change expected.

The professional Real Estate community’s optimism continues to improve. The outlook for sales (yellow) this quarter is at the highest level recorded in the three years this survey has been conducted, 61, a five point improvement from last quarter. This is one point higher than last year at this time.

While all scores are up to new highs, the survey participants are still expecting continued declines in prices (47) and credit availability (48). The national score at 52, up from 48 last quarter, indicates that respondents are more constructive on the overall economic picture. The participants moved to positive sentiment on the statewide conditions at 59 up 5 points from last quarter. Sales expectations are more positive at 61 again up 5 points from last quarter. Inventory expectations improved to 52 from last quarter, the first time this indicator has been above 50 indicating improving conditions expected. Sellers are likely to be frustrated by pricing, and buyers will continue to have problems getting financing.

Regional Results:

The sales expectations for each region are within 1 point of each other from 60-61.

This quarter showed an improvement in all measures and in all regions. To some degree this is a seasonal phenomena, the levels are at high points in the three year history of the survey. Of course the three years of the survey have been some of the most challenging in recent times. None the less the results are encouraging, and taken together with the early results of actual sales in the 1st quarter and the new ABRE sales projections for the remainder of the year that ACRE/Brander has recently released all point to improving conditions.

Commercial market participants (the majority of the respondents are from the Birmingham market area) moved to projecting a continuing improving market this quarter at 59 this quarter vs. 54 last for sales expectations. Price expectations are still soft, at 48 vs 45 last quarter indicating pricing pressure. The score for credit availability has turned constructive, at 54 up from 48 points from last quarter.

North Region

North Alabamaexperienced a consistent improvement in all scores.  The total score of 53, up from 51, a 2 point improvement from last quarter. The Rural markets were an exception to the increasing sales expectations with a drop to 50 from 59 last quarter.

North Central Region

The North Central Region overall score improved to 54 from 50 last quarter, The sales score improved 6 points to 61. Inventory is continuing to improve at 53 with, pricing, and credit below the 50 mark at 47, and 49 respectively.

South Central Region

The South Central Region participants outlook for sales improved 6 points to 61.  Rural participants sales expectations improved 10 points to 60.

South Region

The Southern Region sales score improved 4 points to 60. Rural participants sales expectations improved 7 points to 57.

About the Alabama Real Estate Confidence Index and Survey:

Almost 500 professionals responded to the 2nd quarter 2012 survey which was conducted during the month of March 2012. The survey, conducted by the Alabama Center For Real Estate now has the largest participation of any real estate survey. It provides important market insights. Full history and scores for each market segment are located here on the web

The ACRE Leadership Council  determined the need for a statewide industry confidence index and this was adopted as the Council’s first initiative. Tom Brander, Council Member, was selected by the Council and Grayson Glaze, ACRE Executive Director, to spearhead and work with the Center to conduct and produce its Alabama Real Estate Confidence Index (ARECI). The Council appreciates everyone who participated.

For further information contact Tom Brander at or Grayson Glaze at

Sales Projections for Alabama Real Estate Markets 2012

ABRE Analytics studies correlation between unemployment rates and future real estate sales projections; projects statewide real estate sales growth of 13%

With the release of the metro unemployment data for January 2012, ABRE Analytics is pleased to present our combined projections and commentary for the Alabama real estate market. One note, the current projections are considerably more optimistic than the preliminary ones due to the much better than expected unemployment rates.

Area 2011 Projection 2011 Actual 2011 Error 2012 Projection Correlation% 2004-2011 % change from 2011
Statewide 37,118 36,965 -0.41% 41,992 83.68% 13.60%
Huntsville 8,259 8,610 4.23% 9,050 77.60% 5.11%
Birmingham 12,737 12,468 -2.15% 14,550 86.77% 16.70%
Auburn 1,016 1,132 10.27% 1,138 83.40% 0.49%
Tuscaloosa 1,662 1,743 4.64% 1,826 80.62% 4.78%
Montgomery 3,335 2,774 -20.24% 3,679 84.65% 32.63%

Preliminary looks at the Mobile and Baldwin county areas showed poor results, probably mostly due to exogenous events like hurricanes and oil spills. The projected increase for Montgomery seems out of line. It is also noted that the performance of the projection for 2011 in Montgomery was quite poor. Possible reasons include the high dependence on government employment and the high uncertainty surrounding it in spite of the low, and declining unemployment rate.

ABRE Analytics present these projections as a “work in progress” and as a tool for assessing how well current sales are performing against some level of “informed” expectation. You should not rely on them, but nonetheless we hope you will find them useful.

It is always possible that catastrophic financial events or natural disasters will dramatically change people’s outlook for the future and therefore immediately impact the plans for home purchases. For the time being however we do not see anything that predicts nearly as well as unemployment. Unemployment rates have issues such as people dropping out of the workforce, but overall dropping rates are one of the best indicators of consumer expectations, and therefore predictors of home buying intent.

In the process of developing this methodology we also tested it in other geographies and found similar results. Further, we tried to find correlations to mortgage interest rates and found them to be not at all predictive of home buying activity.

Month to month break-out of the yearly projections are done by taking the sum of the 2004-2011 monthly volumes, for each market, and deriving the monthly spread of sales from those volumes.

The monthly estimated volumes do show more variation since we are dealing at finer levels of detail. The monthly tables are located here, along with all the worksheets for deriving the forecasts.. The detailed spreadsheets also show the 1st two months projections vs. actuals for 2012, which look quite accurate, except for the previously mentioned Montgomery.

About ABRE Analytics: Strategic collaboration is one of the keys to accelerating the flow of insights in the 21st century. The Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) and Tom Brander has been successfully collaborating since 2009 when Mr. Brander was appointed to the ACRE Leadership Council. Council members provide insight and counsel on current market trends, and enhance the sustainability of ACRE through vision, resourcefulness, and creativity. Without creativity and collaboration, two recent ACRE projects, the “Alabama Real Estate Confidence Index” and the “Alabama Residential Data Center” gadget for smartphones would still be on the drawing board. The flow of ideas that in turn lead to solutions to better serve the Alabama real estate industry and consumers is virtually an endless stream and ACRE and Tom Brander are forming ABRE (ACRE/Brander Real Estate) Analytics as a strategic collaborative umbrella that will foster future creative thinking while also providing hands-on experience for student/interns of ACRE.

This latest initiative explores methods to project future residential real estate sales. “Late last year, Tom shared his published preliminary projections that were based on estimates of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics January unemployment rates for a limited area in Alabama. The preliminary results looked quite good and initial test showed high accuracy for 2011 (when calculated blind from the 2011 January unemployment data) and ACRE desired to broaden the project across applicable statewide markets”, according to Grayson Glaze, executive director of ACRE.

About ACRE: ACRE, housed within the UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce, collects, maintains and analyzes the state’s real estate statistics, and is a trusted resource for Alabama real estate research, education and outreach. The relationship between the Center and our industry stakeholders is one of the Center’s greatest strengths. Alabama companies and individuals partner with the Center bringing a wealth of resources and experiences, becoming, in effect, extensions of the Center, a network through which our outreach to the Alabama real estate industry is enhanced and enriched.To learn more, please visit

About Tom Brander: Tom provides Real Estate market reporting services which can be found at and Software services for Web, mobile and Data analysis, using Open Source Software, more information at . He is a senior member of the ACRE Advisory council, and assists ACRE in its research programs.