Tag Archives: AL

Home Selling Tips Every Seller Should Know

What home selling tips are the most important for sellers to know? We sought to answer this question when we surveyed 500 real estate agents about the importance of two dozen top home selling tips. Each tip was then ranked based on the survey responses and we used the first eight – those viewed as being “very important” by 80 percent of agents or more – to create this infographic, “Home Selling Tips Every Seller Should Know.”


Home Selling Tips Every Seller Should Know

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Madison city schools far exceed national average scores on ACT ASPIRE test

Madison City Schools’ scores far exceed the national average in all grades tested on the ACT Aspire tests, with all schools in Madison City excelling, the school district reports.

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Mill Creek Elementary School. (File photo)

Dr. Dee Fowler, superintendent of education for Madison City Schools, released the results in a districtwide communication sent Friday. The ASPIRE is the elementary and middle school equivalent of the ACT test that high school students take.

“Many had warned that since the state of Alabama was going to a nationally-normed test that our scores would falter. Not so in Madison,” Dr. Fowler said. “The high expectations and commitment to perform at a high level that you, our community and our schools possess make all the difference.”

We all know that their success begins at the earlier grades. Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of our elementary and middle schools.”

The ASPIRE tested third through eighth grade in reading and math. It replaced the ARMT-Plus and serves as an important assessment for instruction and teaching practices. Dr. Fowler said he is proud of the ASPIRE results in Madison’s elementary and middle schools.

“On many occasions we celebrate the accomplishments of our high schools for making America’s best high schools list, the impressive number of merit scholars they produce and having our seniors earn so much scholarship money,” the superintendent said. “We all know that their success begins at the earlier grades. Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of our elementary and middle schools.”

Dee Fowler
Madison Superintendent Dee Fowler (File photo)

The ASPIRE is a nationally normed test with the national average being represented by the 50th percentile. Results shared by Fowler show that Madison students were 30 points or higher than national average on 11 of 12 categories for reading and math in six different grades:

  • Third graders; reading 82 percentile; math 76 percentile
  • Four graders: reading 80 percentile; math 85 percentile
  • Fifth graders: reading 80 percentile; math 82 percentile
  • Sixth graders: reading 83 percentile; math 86 percentile
  • Seventh graders: reading 81 percentile; math 82 percentile
  • Eighth graders: reading 82 percentile; math 84 percentile

Each child that took the test will be given an individual score sheet. The Alabama Department of Education is in the process of printing these sheets, which the school district will pass on to families, along with a more detailed explanation of how to interpret the child’s scores.

This score sheet will show how he or she scored compared to the national average and will also give a readiness score. The readiness score is intended to show how well prepared the child is for further education and career training.

Madison elementary, middle schools far exceed national average scores on ACT ASPIRE test | AL.com.

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2014 Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll

Don’t miss the pilgrimage to this year’s
Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll

On Sunday, October 12th, from 2 to 4:30 pm, you too can take the journey back in time to this sacred place. The Stroll is a North Alabama tradition, and for 18 years it has been bringing history alive in the oldest and largest municipal cemetery in continuous operation in the South.

Once again, there will be over 70 costumed actors depicting historic characters, as well as special exhibits and traditional music. Most of your favorite characters are returning, while others will be making their first appearance. Many of the exhibits will enhance some of the living history presentations, while others will highlight some of our recent restoration projects, including the beautiful wrought and cast iron fencing surrounding many of the burial plots. Again, old time melodies will fill the air as you stroll …

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Huntsville school district breaks ground on new $60 million Grissom High School

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Grissom High School students – past, current and future – were part of the crowd Tuesday morning as the Huntsville school district broke ground on the school’s long-awaited new $60 million campus.

The Grissom marching band played for the crowd of parents, city leaders and school district officials, who gathered under a tent erected on the edge of the 61-acre site, located off South Memorial Parkway behind Sam’s Club. The school’s mascot, the Grissom tiger, danced as he and Tiger cheerleaders welcomed attendees to the groundbreaking, which Grissom principal June Kalange called “the start of a new era”.

Students also took part in the ceremony, including three members of Grissom’s Class of 2021 – the first class anticipated to graduate from the new school. The students are currently sixth-graders at Challenger Middle School, Mountain Gap P-8 and Whitesburg P-8.

One of those future Grissom graduates, 11-year-old Priya Morgan, said she was excited about the new campus, which she said will have state-of-the-art classrooms and labs to help ready her for college.

“I want to be a chemist,” Morgan said with a huge smile. “I like chemistry, and science is my favorite subject.”

Morgan’s mother, Preeti Francis, said she, too, is happy to see the new school on the horizon.

“Just knowing we will have the facilities to support the programs that we will need is very exciting,” Francis said. “I’ve not spent a lot of time in the current building, but I know that there are things we cannot do because the school does not have the physical capabilities.”

Huntsville Superintendent Casey Wardynski said Tuesday was a great day.

“Grissom has been an important element of the city and the school system since it was built in 1969 and first opened its doors in 1970. It’s had a long and honorable tradition of excellence and it’s been one of our key incubators for new programs,” Wardynski said.

Wardynski pointed to programs like Project Lead the Way, which started out at Grissom but this year has expanded into every school in the district. He said Grissom, along with the upcoming Jemison High School in north Huntsville, will also set the city schools on a new path of advanced manufacturing education.

“They, and our high school in the north, Jemison, will have probably two facilities that are without compare in the United States,” Wardynski said. “As well as probably the only two high schools that will have racetracks.”

Grissom and Jemison will both have racetracks as part of Huntsville’s designation as the home of Greenpower USA, the American branch of a British organization that teaches STEM education through electric car races.

Mayor Tommy Battle congratulated the district, the Grissom students and the Huntsville community.

“This is an investment that we’re making,” Battle said. “This community is investing in a school. But more than investing in a school and the education process that comes out of a school, we’re investing in a band, we’re investing in young students who will be here and will be educated here, and we’re investing in what we value as a community.

“Education is the foundation block of everything good that happens in this community, from economic development to quality of life,” Battle said.

School board president David Blair pointed out that, four years ago, the school district was struggling under massive debt and had hundreds of millions in capital needs. He credited taxpayers with seeing the need in 2012 to renew a 6.5 mill ad valorem tax that brings about $14 million per year into the school district for upgrades and new facilities.

“That was huge. That allows us to build this school, as well as others,” Blair said. “It’s a huge investment in students; it’s a huge investment in our community. And really, really, thank you for everything you have done to help this community.”

Blair and Jennie Robinson, who has represented Grissom on the school board since 2002, both praised the district’s partnerships with the city and the Madison County Commission, which they said allow projects like the new Grissom campus to move forward.

“Today we’re marking a new beginning not only for Grissom families and faculty, but for our south Huntsville community,” said Robinson, who is seeking the District 3 seat on the Huntsville City Council. “A new Grissom High School in this new location will be a magnet for growth in this area. It will revitalize an area that was depressed.”

Robinson said the new high school also marks a new beginning for the current campus, which will be turned into a municipal complex that will include a police substation, a new public library branch, a recreation center and a community theatre. Madison County Commissioner Phil Riddick and other supporters of the plan hope to raise $4 million privately to help pay for the new library.

The new Grissom, initially slated to open in August 2016, is now anticipated to open to students in January 2017.

Excitement pervades crowd as Huntsville school district breaks ground on new $60 million Grissom High School | AL.com.

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Home Buying in 6 Steps

Six Steps

Click image to enlarge or download (PDF: 144 KB)

1) Get Ready for Home Ownership

  • Build a good credit history
  • Get mortgage pre-approval
  • Find out what type of mortgages you quality for
  • Consider hiring an attorney to review all contracts and agreements associated with the home buying process
  • Save up for a down payment (typically 10-20% of property’s value; if FHA-qualified, then possibly less)
    • Consider closing costs which can include taxes, attorney’s fees, and transfer fees
    • Consider utilities and monthly bills, such as homeowner’s assessments

2) Find a Real Estate Professional

  • Get a referral from friends, family, and work colleagues, or search realtor.com® and look for real estate yard signs and advertisements
  • Ask the real estate professionals you interview about buyer’s representation contracts and agreements; make sure you understand the terms
  • Explain your needs and expectations to the real estate professional you choose to work with

3) Find the Right Property

  • Determine what is important to you, such as particular schools, neighborhood amenities, monthly mortgage payment, public transportation, walkability, etc.
  • Make sure you include home owner’s assessments, utilities, and taxes when calculating the monthly mortgage payment

4) Finance the Property

  • Contact your mortgage broker or lender
  • The lender or attorney will run a title search to ensure there are no clouds on the title
  • Make sure you understand the financing terms—ask the lender for clarification, if needed

5) Make an Offer

  • Ensure the property is inspected by a licensed home inspector
  • Acquire title insurance
  • Make sure the title is clear, or make your offer contingent upon title clearance
  • Read all contracts before signing—make sure you understand all of the terms, ask questions
  • Place a competitive bid and be prepared to make a counter-offer
  • Keep your credit score stable and in-check by waiting to purchase any big-ticket items until long after the closing
  • Only one offer will result in a sale, so be prepared to move on if your offer is not accepted

6) Closing and Life After the Big Purchase

  • Protect your new asset by obtaining insurance such as homeowner’s, flood, disaster, and fire
  • Weatherproof your new home
  • Maintain files—digital or print—for all warranties, insurance documents, contracts, etc.
  • Keep original closing documents in a safe place, preferably outside the home (such as a safety deposit box)
  • Set up utilities bills in your name, maintain files
  • Implement desired aesthetic changes such as painting, minor construction, and re-flooring
  • Set a move date and hire movers or plan a move party with your friends
  • Get to know your neighbors and explore your new neighborhood
  • If you’re happy with the work of your real estate professional, be sure to recommend her/him to friends and family

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Groundbreaking on new Grissom High School to be held next week

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A new Grissom High School will be one step closer to reality next week when school officials break ground on the new $60 million campus.

The groundbreaking will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the site of the new school, located behind Sam’s Club on National Boulevard. National is just off of Memorial Parkway below Weatherly Road.

The event will be broadcast live on ETV, located on Comcast Channel 17, WOW Channel 3 or on the web at HuntsvilleCitySchools.org.

The school board last week approved a $2.3 million construction contract with Decatur-based Baggette Construction to perform the site work prior to the school’s construction. Chapman Sisson Architects of Huntsville is designing the school.

Other work to prepare for the new school is already underway, with Weatherly Road being extended west of Memorial Parkway to new 61-acre campus. School board member Jennie Robinson confirmed last week, however, that work on the new school had been delayed, putting its August 2016 opening in jeopardy.

School officials are looking at the possibility of a mid-year opening, with students moving into the facility in early January 2017.

The current Grissom campus on Bailey Cove Road will be turned into a public library, police substation, recreation center and community theater.

via Groundbreaking on new Grissom High School to be held next week | AL.com.

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Alabama residential median sales price continues to improve in August

Click here to view or print the entire August report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

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View full size Alabama home sales in August slipped 2.1 percent compared to last August. YTD sales up 1.2%. August sales are now up 38% from its August bottom in 2010. Infograph courtesy of ACRE. All rights reserved.

Alabama residential sales totaled 4,139 units in August, a decrease in sales growth of 2.1 percent from the same period a year earlier and 210 units shy of our monthly forecast. Nationally, sales were off 5.3 percent in August from the prior year. See more details of how Alabama compares to the broader US market here.

The YTD Alabama sales forecast through August projected 31,414 closed transactions while the actual sales were 30,212 units, a 3.8 percent cumulative variance. YTD sales through August have been sluggish in most markets across the State but remain 1.3 percent above the 2013. Sales were up 2.3 percent in the second quarter compared to 2013.

Across Alabama, 64 percent of local markets reported positive sales growth compared to last August. It was 48 percent in July. This figure also remains at 64 percent when taking into account total YTD sales compared to 2013.

Pricing: The lead story in 2014 relates to pricing. The Center shared in earlier reports that pricing represents the primary indicator that still had the greatest upside in the future. At least through August, this has come to fruition as prices are up in 16 of 25 or 64 percent of local markets. While this is good news for the market, as prices increase, sales (the typical lead story) attributable to investors bargain hunting will diminish the ability of this “buyer profile” to push the sales growth needle in the future. Distressed sales continue to significantly diminish as a percentage of total sales across the US, a trend most market watchers content will continue in the future.

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View full size Alabama median home sales price in August 2014 improved 12.8% from prior year and now up 21% from the month of August price bottom in 2004. Infoigraph courtesy of ACRE. All rights reserved.

The median sales price improved by approximately 12.8 percent over last August and 6.3 percent when comparing the year-to-date (Jan-August) average for a broader perspective. Still, Alabama remains below the nation’s recent pace of appreciation but the Center prefers gradual increases in pricing over spikes seen in many parts of the country (typically in markets hardest hit by the recession). Keep in mind that pricing can fluctuate from month-to-month due to sampling size of data and seasonal buying patterns. The median price increased 1.7 percent from the prior month. This direction contrast with historical data (09-13) that reflects that the August sales price traditionally decrease from the month of July by 1.1 percent.

Supply: The statewide housing inventory in August was 33,561 units, a decrease of .6 percent from August 2013 and 20.4 percent below the month of August peak in 2007 (42,149 units). There was 8.1 months of housing supply (7 months considered equilibrium during month of August) in August 2014 versus 8.0 months of supply in August 2013, a 1.5 percent unfavorable increase. August inventory also decreased by 1.5 percent from the prior month. This direction contrast with historical data that indicates August inventory on average (09-13) traditionally increases from the month of July by 4.5 percent.

Demand: As anticipated, August statewide residential sales declined 5.4 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with seasonal trends & recent historical data that indicates August sales, on average (09-13), decrease from the month of July by 1.1 percent.

The fact that there are fewer distressed properties (attracting bargain hunting investors – typically cash buyers) changing hands when compared to last year has also narrowed the favorable percentage change associated with sales growth.

Seeking Balance: Six or 24 percent of local markets are considered near or in balance where buyer and seller enjoy equal bargaining power. More markets are inching closer so this is encouraging news.

In contrast to reports of lack of inventory at the national level, Alabama still has above the needed levels of supply in most local markets (13 of 25 markets or 52 percent still have 10+ months of supply) but the supply of “quality” inventory is limiting sales according to local professionals with boots on the ground. Only 12 of 25 or 48 percent of local markets have single-digit months of housing supply so this is an area where more reduction would be welcome news. Last month this figure stood at 44 percent. With that offered, metro markets representing 70 percent of statewide transactions, are edging closer and closer to equilibrium with 7.2 months of supply.

Industry Perspective: “The August National Housing Survey results lend support to our forecast that 2015 will likely not be a breakout year for housing,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The deterioration in consumer attitudes about the current home buying environment reflects a shift away from record home purchase affordability without enough momentum in consumer personal financial sentiment to compensate for it. To date, this year’s labor market strength has not translated into sufficient income gains to inspire confidence among consumers to purchase a home, even in the current favorable interest rate environment. Our third quarter Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey results, to be released later this month, are expected to show whether mortgage demand from the lender perspective is in line with consumer housing sentiment.” For full report, go HERE.

This monthly report is provided compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet. 

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