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Huntsville/Madison County residential median sales price in June improves 10% from prior year

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

Huntsville/Madison County area residential sales in June slipped 1.7 percent from the same period a year earlier. Year-to-date sales are virtually the same as 2013 (-1.0%) through the month of June. Total sales of 507 units were 15 units or 2.7 percent shy of our monthly forecast.

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View full sizeHuntsville/Madison County residential sales slip 1.7% from last June. Inventory has decreased 2.2% from the month of June peak in 2010. Infograph provided by ACRE. All rights reserved.

Supply: Huntsville housing inventory totaled 3,259 units, an increase of 142 units from last June and 5.3 percent above the 5-year June average of 3,095 units. New home inventory is down 9.1 percent year-over-year while existing single family is up 6.9 percent. The inventory-to-sales ratio in June was 6.4 months of housing supply (3.9 months for new construction – down from 4.2 months in May 2013). The market equilibrium (balance between supply and demand) is considered to be approximately 6 months during June. Huntsville remains one of Alabama’s most balanced markets in 2014. June inventory in Huntsville/Madison County experienced a 2.5 percent (79 units) increase when compared to the prior month. This movement contrast with seasonal & historical data trends that indicate June inventory on average (€™09-€™13) remained unchanged from the month of May.

Demand: New home sales improved 5.3 percent from last June after a weak May but a strong sales surge in April. New home sales spur economic growth and job creation so this is encouraging news. Existing single family home sales accounted for 73 percent (down from 74% in June’13) of total sales, new homes sales accounted for 14 percent (up from 12% in June’13) while condos were 3 percent of sales (down from 4% in June’13).

Residential sales in June improved 10.7 percent from the prior month. Real estate sales volume is seasonal and historical Huntsville data reflects that June sales, on average (€™09-€™13), increase from the month of May by 6.1 percent.

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View full sizeHuntsville/Madison County residential median sales prices rises 10% from last June. Infograph provided by ACRE. All rights reserved.

Pricing: The Huntsville median sales price in June was $184,900, an increase of 10.1 percent from June 2013 and 10.7 percent from the prior month. Historical data (09-13) indicates that the June median selling price traditionally increases from the month of May by 3.0 percent. It’s important to note that pricing can fluctuate from month-to-month as the sample size of data (closed transactions) is subject to seasonal buying patterns so a broader lens as to pricing trends is appropriate. ACRE recommends contacting a local real estate professional to discuss pricing at the neighborhood level.

Industry Perspective: According to Fannie Mae’s June National Housing Survey: Americans’ Attitudes Toward the Housing Market Reflect Steady but Slow Recovery, “Normal” Housing Levels Still a Ways Off. Click HERE for report.

View the current monthly Huntsville Residential Report here.

The Huntsville Residential Monthly Report is work product developed in conjunction with the Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS to better serve North Alabama consumers. The ACRE monthly report is provided to illustrate the “general” market direction & trends when comparing prior periods with the most current available data. Real estate is local and statistics will fluctuate between areas within a city including subdivisions. ACRE recommends that you consult a local real estate professional for “specific” advice associated with your market.

About ACRE. ACRE was founded in 1996 by the Alabama Real Estate Commissionthe Alabama Association of REALTORS and the Office of the Dean, UA Culverhouse College of Commerce. ACRE is not a state-funded entity, rather its operates in part because of the goodwill & generosity of our statewide ACRE Partners.

Alabama real estate resources & news, please visit our website and our ACRE blog. You can also follow ACRE from our facebook page, just “like” http://www.facebook.com/acreua and/or follow on twitter at @uaacre.

Huntsville/Madison County residential median sales price in June improves 10% from prior year | AL.com.

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New Cabela’s superstore continues retail development boom across Madison County

The city of Huntsville added another notch to its retail belt this week with the announcement of a Cabela’s-anchored $80 million mixed-use center in the Rocket City.

The Nebraska-based outdoor gear, hunting and fishing giant is one of two national chains to plan stores in Huntsville this year. Whole Foods – another company on the city’s retail wish list – said in February it will anchor the new $50 million Shops at Merchants Walk project on the northeast corner of Bob Wallace Avenue and Memorial Parkway.

At least 1.7 million square feet of new retail and restaurant space has open, broken ground or been announced across Madison County during the past two years.

Ken Smith, director of research and information for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, said the economy is finally at a point where more companies are pulling the trigger on projects that were on hold during the height of the recession.

“The combination of an economy that is outpacing U.S. growth, coupled with high incomes and the low cost of doing business, makes the Huntsville/Madison County market very attractive to retailers who are currently expanding,” he said. “Even with the announcement of Remington Arms coming to our community, that has drawn a lot of interest from other manufacturers, as well as commercial developments.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the addition of an 80,000-square-foot Cabela’s store at Parkside Town Centre near Interstate 565 and 255 at Governors West Road will bring an offering to the city not found anywhere else in Alabama.

“Also, it’s part of our continuing work on retail development trade that brings money into the city of Huntsville,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Among some of North Alabama’s other recent retail highlights:

  • Bridge Street Town Centre’s Phase III development is underway. A $20 million Belk flagship store will open at the center in October, while four additional retail buildings and up to 1,000 parking spaces will be added.
  • Publix and Homewood Suites by Hilton opened this spring at the $100 million Twickenham Square development in downtown Huntsville. Cajun Steamer Bar & Grill, Taco Mama, Mei Wei, Artisan at Twickenham Square and Beaute Nail Spa are on target to open later this year.
  • Wal-Mart is building two new Supercenters on Memorial Parkway and in Hazel Green. The retailer also recently broke ground on the city’s first Neighborhood Market at Oakwood Avenue and Jordan Lane and plans to start construction on its next Market store on the southwest corner of Wall Triana Highway and Pine Grove this month.
  • Bass Pro Outdoor World will anchor the Sweetwater commercial development in Decatur-annexed Limestone County.
  • The Crossing in Jones Valley is in the works. The upscale shopping development on Carl T. Jones Drive is expected to be complete in spring 2017.
  • The Avenue, a $30 million apartment building to be located on the corner of Jefferson Street and Holmes Avenue next to the federal courthouse, will include 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
  • A $180 million mixed-use development at the former Heart of Huntsville mall site in downtown was announced in April. Commercial realtor Scott McLain has already started negotiations with two restaurants and is in early discussions with residential developers for the live-work-play project.

McLain said the recent retail boom has put Huntsville on the map and Cabela’s decision to open its first Alabama store in Huntsville bodes well for the area.

“When we have national retailers selecting Huntsville, other national retailers take notice,” he said. “Retailers tend to follow one another. By Cabela’s making a notable announcement in Huntsville, it helps us a great deal with all sorts of other retailers.”

McLain, who said retailers like Cheesecake Factory and Neiman Marcus will never come to a market the size of Huntsville, said the availability of affordable land and retail sites remains the biggest challenge for developers moving forward.

Shane Davis, director of urban planning for the city of Huntsville, said the Cabela’s development will complement Bridge Street and enhance the 255 corridor from University Drive to I-565. Davis believes it could even help spark the redevelopment of the struggling Madison Square Mall.

Van Geroux, spokesman for Bridge Street, said the shopping center’s management isn’t concerned about competition from the new Cabela’s-anchored retail center in Huntsville.

“Based on their strong regional appeal in other markets, Cabela’s will be a popular attraction, bringing more visitors to the area from southern Tennessee, eastern Mississippi and other cities throughout North Alabama,” he said. “Cabela’s new store along with Bridge Street’s retail expansion currently underway are well positioned to serve the expanding Huntsville market.”

What about Bass Pro?

Gary Hammon, president of the Decatur City Council, said plans to bring a Bass Pro to the Decatur area haven’t changed. Despite “negotiating on some minor details,” Hammon said the deal is still on.

In April, the council approved an ordinance to authorize a project development and funding agreement with the city, Bass Pro and Genesis USA Development, LLC. The plan, which includes up to $45 million in tax incentives, is expected to create 400 jobs to start and 4,000 jobs over the next 15-25 years.

McLain said Cabela’s and Bass Pro are fierce competitors and Cabela’s has worked hard over the past year to beat Bass Pro to the local market. McLain said he wouldn’t be surprised if Bass Pro takes a fresh look at its plan to move into Decatur now that Cabela’s has confirmed its new store.

“North Alabama is one of the most enthusiastic hunting, fishing and outdoor communities in the nation, perhaps,” he said. “Given that the two stores are apparently not going to be located next to each other, that suggests that perhaps both could be successful.”


New Cabela’s superstore continues retail development boom across Madison County | AL.com.

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National survey puts Huntsville at top of the list for employee engagement


 Huntsville is best known for rockets, military and an abundance of engineers. A new survey shows it is also a place filled with some pretty happy workers.

A new survey by Quantum Workplace has Huntsville ranked as the top in the country for employee recognition. The company looked at surveys from nearly 5,000 organizations and 400,000 employees that take part in the Best Places to Work program to determine where employees were most satisfied with the recognition they receive.

That sort of recognition includes things such as pay increases, access to new learning or training, time off or praise from senior leadership.

Seventy-three percent workers polled in Huntsville said they were satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive.

The remainder of the top 10 are:

   No. 2 - Nashville, Tennessee

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 69 percent

   No. 3 - Austin, Texas

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 68 percent

   No. 4 - San Antonio, Texas

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 68 percent

   No. 5 - Washington, D.C.

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 68 percent

   No. 6 - Atlanta, Georgia

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 67 percent

   No. 7 - Charlotte, North Carolina

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 67 percent

   No. 8 - Orlando, Florida

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 67 percent

   No. 9 - Raleigh, North Carolina

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 67 percent

   No. 10 - Tampa, Florida

   Percent of Satisfied Employees: 67 percent

Overall, employees said pay raises were the best way to recognize work. That was followed by training opportunities, time flexibility, bonuses and promotions.

Managers should skip plaques or other company-branded merchandise, however. Those were rated least desirable among employees, with less than 5 percent saying those were important to them.

via Lots of happy engineers? National survey puts Huntsville at top of the list for employee engagement | AL.com.

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New $40M VA Huntsville Outpatient Clinic means better care for ‘our American heroes’


Just over a year from now, Huntsville will have a VA clinic that matches its reputation as a magnet for military veterans.

Congressman Mo Brooks and other dignitaries gathered just west of downtown Thursday to break ground on a nearly $40 million U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic. Expected to open in the summer of 2015, it will replace two smaller VA-operated medical facilities on Governors Drive in Huntsville and Madison Boulevard in Madison.

Crews have already begun grading the property near Clearview Cancer Institute and Butler High School.

“Everything we are doing here is about improving the care and services that we provide to you, our American heroes,” Birmingham VA Medical Center Director Thomas C. Smith III told a gathering of veterans at Thursday’s ceremony.

Smith said VA officials began scouting for clinic sites in Huntsville about five years ago because of rapid growth in North Alabama’s veteran population.

The 47,800-square-foot clinic will offer primary care, mental health, audiology, optometry and radiology services, plus an on-site pharmacy.

It will also showcase VA’s “Telehealth” program – video hookups that will allow veterans in Huntsville to be seen remotely by medical specialists in other cities and states.

This facility will do so much good for so many of our men and women who have served our country so nobly.

John Cooper, a Navy veteran and Patriot Guard member who attended the groundbreaking, said friends who now have to drive to Birmingham for certain types of care will now be able to get almost everything they need in Huntsville.

“It means a lot to me that Huntsville is finally getting something like this,” said Cooper. “We’ve needed it for a long time.”

Veterans who require cardiac, orthopedic and other types of specialized care will continue to be referred to the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

Brooks said his 91-year-old father is among the veterans that the new clinic is designed to serve. A World War II Army combat engineer under Gen. George Patton, he was injured during a rowdy May 8, 1945, “VE Day” celebration in Germany when a friend accidentally fired a Luger pistol.

The bullet is still lodged near his father’s spine, said Brooks.

“This facility will do so much good for so many of our men and women who have served our country so nobly,” he said. “It is our duty to those who have given so much, to make sure that they have access to affordable health care and the benefits they have earned.”

The clinic is being built by Birmingham-based Johnson Development on VA-owned land at the intersection of Markaview Road and Russell Hill Drive. Johnson Development will cover all construction costs; the VA has promised lease the building for a minimum of 20 years.

New $40M VA Huntsville Outpatient Clinic means better care for ‘our American heroes’ | AL.com.

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Huntsville newcomers share what brought them to the Rocket City


He’s a computer systems analyst for one of the world’s largest defense contractors by day. By night, he works over a hot grill serving up fresh tacos for the masses.

Like many Huntsville transplants, Armando Guerrero migrated to the Rocket City from Austin five years ago for a job. Since then, he and wife Priscilla have launched Crave Heat, a Tex Mex food truck that has become a staple at street food gatherings and a sight for sore eyes among Huntsville’s homeless community.

It’s been hard for the couple with three young sons to live more than 800 miles from the only home they’ve ever known, but Armando Guerrero, a Texas native who never imagined he would one day live in Alabama, believes his family unit is stronger because of it.

“We’ve faced many challenges here without family, but it’s been a great place to strengthen our family as a family,” he said. “Our faith has increased a good bit, as we miss family and feel distant at times.”

Using 2010-11 Internal Revenue Service data, AL.com is taking a look at where residents are moving from into the state, and where Alabamians are going when they leave. A year after Guerrero landed a job in Huntsville, 16 people from the Austin area moved into Madison County and brought $523,000 in income with them.

Another high migration area was Fairfax, Va., which lost 209 people and more than $10 million in income to Madison County. During that same time frame, King County, Wash. lost 33 people and $1 million to the Huntsville area, San Diego County 93 people and $1.9 million and El Paso County, Colo. 90 people and $2.9 million.

Unlike other metro counties across the state, Madison County’s per capita income of newcomers is $1,790 higher than the people who are leaving. Mobile, Jefferson, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Shelby counties all have a negative per capita income relationship between comers and goers.

‘A commonality of culture’

Lucia Cape, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, wasn’t surprised by the IRS migration data. Cape said the Chamber launched an aggressive recruitment campaign through the Base Realignment and Closure period from late 2006 through 2011.

The Chamber spent a lot of time in the Washington, D.C. and Fairfax area recruiting newcomers during BRAC, a process that brought 4,600 government positions to Huntsville.

Col. John Hamilton, who migrated from Fairfax into Madison County in 2010, didn’t come to Huntsville for BRAC. Instead, he was offered the garrison commander post at Redstone Arsenal.

Hamilton, who admits Huntsville “was kind of an unknown place” before moving here, said the city has grown on him and his family.

“When you get into a town like this, if you’re someone like me who moves around a lot, this is a town you can just step right into and be comfortable in,” he said. “If you go around to cities like these that have a significant military presence, they all tend to have similar characteristics – a comfort level, a commonality of culture.”

Hamilton retired last year after a long military career to assume the role of Huntsville’s city administrator. Hamilton, who is raising two young children in Huntsville’s medical district, said the transition was easy for his family.

As Remington prepares to take over the former Chrysler building near Huntsville International Airport and Verizon brings in 300 new workers to its call center in Thornton Research Park, Hamilton said infrastructure and acceptance will be vital for continued growth in the community.

AL.com reported earlier this year that 45 percent of Madison County’s population is made up of residents who are not natives of the state, while the area is also on a short list of Alabama counties where more than 5 percent of the population was born outside the United States.

With the promise of 2,000 new Remington jobs in Madison County, Cape said that migration pattern is likely to continue in the years ahead.

“That kind of trend is strong,” she said. “It shows you can organically support workforce growth but you also have the characteristics to bring people in from outside, which continues to strengthen us a community.”

Southern perceptions

Curse, a gaming information company that moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Huntsville in 2013, is expanding this year with 20 new jobs at its downtown office. The business grew 60 percent in 2013, which was in part fueled by “the great talent” Curse has found in the Rocket City.

“It’s a pleasant mix of technical minds, and people that really understand our products and are all members of the new digital age,” said Vice President of Marketing Donovan Duncan.

Justin Sacks and David Cho, two young professionals from out west, packed their bags and left sunny southern California to take full-time jobs with Curse.

Sacks, who came directly from San Diego, was operating a small business in the competitive gaming industry when an opportunity to work for Curse came available last spring. Now a sales and business development manager for Curse, Sacks said he has been “pleasantly surprised” by Huntsville at every turn.

“I definitely had a perception on what the South and specifically Alabama would look like,” he said. “Huntsville has blown those away. … San Diego is probably the most amazing place in the world to live, so it would be hard to beat that, but it’s been pretty awesome here. I definitely have no plans to leave anytime soon.”

Cho, who is from Huntington Beach, said Curse offered to fly him out to Huntsville before offering him the job so he could take a look at the city. He declined.

It’s taken some time for the video editor to get acclimated to Alabama, but Cho said the environment and housing market for young people “have been much better than expected.”

“I definitely had some preconceived notions coming in to be perfectly honest, but once you actually come to Huntsville, physically speaking it’s not what you expected – in a good way,” he said. “It really is a thriving city, and it’s just great to be a part of the growth.”

Huntsville newcomers share what brought them to the Rocket City | AL.com.

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