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Huntsville/Madison County March residential sales up 21% from last year

Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE)By Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE)
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Click here to view or print the entire March report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Sales: Huntsville/Madison County residential sales totaled 468 units in March, an increase in sales growth of 21.2 percent or 82 units from the same period last year. This represents the best sales results for the month of March since 2007. Year-to-date sales through March are 6.2 percent above 2014.

Forecast: Closed transactions in March were 89 units or 23.5 percent above the Center’s monthly forecast. ACRE’s year-to-date sales forecast through March projected 998 closed transactions while the actual sales were 1,097 units, a favorable cumulative variance of 9.9 percent.

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Huntsville/Madison County residential sales improve 21% from last March. Inventory is 4% below monthly peak established in 2011. Infograph provided by ACRE. All rights reserved.Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) 

Supply: Huntsville housing inventory totaled 2,993 units, a decrease of .5 percent or 16 units from last March and only .5 percent above the 5-year March average of 2,983 units. New home inventory is up 21.5 percent year-over-year while existing single family inventory is down 3.5 percent.

The inventory-to-sales ratio in March was 6.4 months of housing supply (5.3 months for new construction – up 35.9% from March’14 when it stood at 3.9 months). The market equilibrium (balance between supply and demand) is considered to be approximately 7.5 months during March (NSA). Huntsville was one of Alabama’s most balanced markets in March. The market in March experienced a 8.6 percent (81 units) decrease when compared to the prior month. This movement favorably contrast with historical data that indicate March inventory on average (‘1€0-’14) typically increases by 3.4 percent from the month of February.

Demand: Residential sales in March also increased 41.8 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with seasonal patterns and historical data indicating that March sales, on average (’10-‘€14), increase from the month of February by 23.4 percent. New home sales remain soft, down 12.9 percent from March 2014. Existing single family home sales accounted for 76 percent (up from 70% in Mar’14) of total sales, new homes sales accounted for 20 percent (down from 28% in Mar’14) while condos were 4 percent of sales (up from 2% in Mar’14).

Pricing: The Huntsville median sales price in March was $158,432, a slip of 3.9 percent from March 2014 and 5.6 percent decrease from the prior month. This direction unfavorably contrast with historical data (’10-’14) indicating that the March median sales price traditionally increases from the month of February by .2 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: “Consumers are being patient prior to entering the housing market. Our March survey results emphasize how critical attitudes about income growth are to consumers’ outlook on housing,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “We’ve seen modest improvement in total compensation resulting from a strengthened labor market. However, income growth perceptions and personal financial expectations both eased off of recent highs, consistent with Friday’s weak jobs report. Simultaneously, the share of consumers expecting to buy on their next move has declined. We believe the recent setback in consumer sentiment should be short lived if early signs of income growth bear out and occur in proportion to expected interest rate increases. Meanwhile, the wait for housing expansion continues.” For full report, go HERE.

Huntsville/Madison County residential sales in March increase 21% from prior year | AL.com.

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New Homes in Downtown Meridianville

Yes…there is a downtown Meridianville. The corner of North Memorial Parkway and Patterson Lane is bustling with new development. Legacy Homes is developing an affordably priced new home community with full brick construction, fully sodded lawns, three car garages and many plans to choose from with prices starting under $200,000. Colonial Pointe is taking shape and now is a great time to pick your plan.

Give me a call or shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to go over the selections and options being offered at Colonial Pointe, Meridianville’s new address.

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North Alabama housing market ‘one of the most stable’ in Southeast

Rob Hale, president of MarketGraphics Southeast, speaks to Huntsville-area realtors and home builders April 2 at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. (Lucy Berry | lberry@al.com)

Rob Hale, president of MarketGraphics Southeast, speaks to Huntsville-area realtors and home builders April 2 at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. (Lucy Berry | lberry@al.com)

Lucy Berry | lberry@al.comBy Lucy Berry | lberry@al.com
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More residents in the Huntsville area are seeking apartment communities with higher-end amenities as the housing market recovers.

That was one of the talking points Thursday during a 2015 north Alabama housing forecast presentation by MarketGraphics Southeast President Rob Hale at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. The annual breakfast event for area realtors and homebuilders was sponsored by BancorpSouth.

Hale said the recession sparked a shift in the number of north Alabama millennials, retirees and move-down buyers interested in new apartment projects.

“The recession started it because people lost their homes,” he said. “They were able to rent, but not buy, and I think that started a trend of new apartment construction and it built on that.”

Nationwide trend

The movement toward apartments isn’t just affecting Huntsville, Hale said, but the entire U.S. He said the developments are especially attractive to the under-30 crowd that’s not as interested in purchasing a new or existing home as past generations were.

Apartments are also a good option for retirees who need smaller housing, but still want luxury, an audience member pointed out.

“There’s the pool, there’s somebody else mowing the grass, there’s really great amenities with these new developments,” Hale said. “It’s attractive to people who at some point might have been first-time homebuyers.”

The local market, which includes Madison, Limestone, Morgan and Marshall counties, is the picture of stability, Hale told the crowd. The four-county area had 2,470 building permits last year, down slightly from 2,501 the previous year and 2,518 in 2011.

Market vibrancy

While north Alabama led the Southeast for several years in market vibrancy (new home permits divided by total population), Hale said that’s no longer the case today. Markets like Jacksonville, Fla., Nashville and Charleston, S.C., are experiencing more vibrant housing markets right now.

Huntsville hasn’t always followed the national trend, he said, and the market doesn’t encounter the same peaks and valleys as other places sometimes do.

“You did not experience the wave of destruction that took place in a lot of places in the Southeast,” he said. “The coastal Florida market was devastated by the recession. This just illustrates how stable the market is in north Alabama.”

The area had 15,000 vacant developed lots in February 2011. Since then, that figure has declined to roughly 11,500. There are 546 homes under construction in the four-county area, Hale said.

With companies like Polaris and Remington Outdoor promising thousands of jobs in Huntsville over the next several years, Hale hopes the local housing market enters a phase when new jobs have a direct link to the construction of new houses.

Jobs equals housing

Hale said the market needs about 1.25 new jobs for every building permit issued in order to sustain healthy housing activity.

“Of all the markets in the Southeast over the years, the Huntsville market has been one of the most stable, even through the recession,” he said. “Our hope is that as new jobs arrive in Huntsville, it will result in an improvement in the new home housing market.”

Hale praised the area’s public leadership in attracting new companies and diversifying the economy. “That’s certainly not true everywhere,” he added.

Penny Billings, division president for BancorpSouth, said her biggest takeaway from Thursday’s event was “location and where you’re building.”

“We have seen some pretty good vibrancy right now in new home sales,” she said. “Some of our builders are reporting that their sales are a lot higher than they’ve been.”

North Alabama housing market ‘one of the most stable’ in Southeast, even through recession | AL.com.

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Huntsville among top 10 Southern cities for jobs right now

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Lucy Berry | lberry@al.comBy Lucy Berry | lberry@al.com
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Two Alabama metros are among the top cities in the South for job creation and hiring in 2015, according to a new study by ZipRecruiter.

The hiring and job market data company released a report this week of the top 20 Southern cities with the greatest 2015 hiring demand and growth potential. Cities were ranked using ZipRecruiter’s Hiring Demand Index, which is based on relative monthly job growth percentage measured across the U.S.

Huntsville came in at No. 9, while Mobile fell at No. 19. Here is the full list:

  1. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Fla.
  2. Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, Texas
  3. Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown, Texas
  4. Richmond, Va.
  5. Jacksonville, Fla.
  6. Memphis, Tenn.
  7. Roanoke, Va.
  8. Greenville/Mauldin/Easley, S.C.
  9. Huntsville
  10. Orlando/Kissimmee, Fla.
  11. Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Fla.
  12. Durham, N.C.
  13. Greensboro/High Point, N.C.
  14. Winchester, Va.
  15. Spartanburg, S.C.
  16. El Paso, Texas
  17. Danville, Va.
  18. Lubbock, Texas
  19. Mobile
  20. Myrtle Beach/Conway/North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Click here for ZipRecruiter’s report.

ZipRecruiter writer Kylie Anderson, who praised Huntsville’s military and aerospace technology, called the city “the center for NASA rocket-propulsion research.”

“The city also supports commercial technology companies and other engineering research,” she said.

Huntsville’s top five industries and their most in-demand position are:
  • Healthcare: Healthcare Representative
  • Trucking/Transportation: Class A CDL Driver
  • Engineering: Applications Engineer
  • Admin/Secretarial: Customer Service Retail
  • Manufacturing/Operations: Production Manager

Madison County’s February unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, down from 5.6 the previous month. Joblessness was also down in Mobile, from 7.1 percent unemployment to 6.4 in February. To see how your county fared, click here.

[Related: Top 10 Alabama occupations with the most online job postings in February]

Visit AL.com/jobs to search more than 2,000 listings in Alabama.

Huntsville, Mobile among top 20 Southern cities for jobs right now | AL.com.

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The Huntsville, Alabama, metro area is the best place for engineers by far.

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The north Alabama city with the country’s highest concentration of engineers and technology workers was recently named the best place for engineers in the U.S.

NerdWallet ranked Huntsville the nation’s top engineering city in a study published online Monday. The personal finance website, which analyzed 350 metropolitan areas, praised the Rocket City for its heavy engineer base, high average engineering salary and low rent costs.

About 25 miles from Huntsville, Decatur fell at No. 8 on the list, which also featured cities from Georgia, Florida, Michigan, California, Texas, Washington and Ohio.

“The South has a concentration of the best places for engineers,” said NerdWallet author Sreekar Jasthi. “Six of the top 10 places on our list were in southern states. Most of these areas have military bases, manufacturing centers and companies that provide competitive career opportunities for engineers.”

Click here to see the full list.

To determine the ranking, NerdWallet looked at two factors: size of the engineering industry using 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and engineering income levels.

This week wouldn’t be the first time Huntsville has landed in a “top cities” list on NerdWallet. The city ranked No. 25 on NerdWallet’s list of America’s Most Innovative Tech Hubs. Huntsville, Montgomery and Birmingham were also among the best places for black-owned businesses in early February.

Here’s what NerdWallet had to say about Huntsville and Decatur’s engineering prowess:

Huntsville: With a NASA flight center and an Army arsenal, Huntsville is nicknamed “The Rocket City” for good reason. Engineers make up 6% of its employed population and make nearly $103,000 a year, which is higher than the national mean. Median rent is the second lowest in our top 10, at around $725 a month. Huntsville, a northern Alabama city near the Tennessee border, is a hub for aerospace engineers.

Decatur: Just 25 miles west of our list’s leading place, Decatur engineers have access to many opportunities in Huntsville. But Decatur itself is home to a United Launch Alliance facility, where spacecraft launch equipment is manufactured. Engineers make up about 2% of Decatur’s workforce, making it the smallest engineering industry in our top 10. However, it still has more engineers per 1,000 employees than the national average.

2 north Alabama cities within 25 miles of each other make NerdWallet’s best places for engineers | AL.com.

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Alabama new home starts in January rise 13 percent from last year

Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE)By Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE)
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Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Demand: Alabama’s new home sales in January slipped 2 units or .9 percent from the same period last year.

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Alabama new home sales in January on par with last year while inventory has increased 4% from the same period. Infograph courtesy of ACRE. All rights reserved.Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) 

Supply: Housing starts have increased 13.0 percent since last January. New construction inventory has also increased 4.0 percent since January 2014.Three of five metro areas experienced increases in inventory levels from last January (Birmingham – up 10%, Mobile – up 7% and Tuscaloosa – up 6%).

Alabama’s metro markets in January reflect 8.4 months of new home supply, up 6 percent from last January’s 8.0 months and up 83 percent from 4.6 months in December.

Pricing: Alabama’s metro market’s median new home sales price in January was $235,510, an increase of 2.1 percent from last January and 5.6 percent from last month.

New Home Pipeline: January statewide housing starts increased by 13.0 percent from January 2014 but slipped 2.0 percent from the prior month. 2014 starts were down 2.0 percent. Housing starts were up 7.8 percent in 2013 and 6.5% in 2012. January statewide building permits were up .5 percent from January 2014 but down 5.6 percent from last month. 2014 permits were down .8 percent. Building permits were up 5.6% in 2013 and 8.4 percent in 2012.

Residential Construction Employment: According to the Alabama Dept. of Industrial Relations, statewide residential construction employment in December increased 1.2 percent (800 jobs) to 68,600 from last month and improved 9.2 percent (+5,800 jobs) from the same month a year ago. (Note: January figures are to be released on 3/17/15).

Local Results: 10 out of the 27 home builder associations (37% – down from 56% in Dec) reported gains in building permits from the prior month while 12 associations (44% – up from 33% in Dec) reported gains in housing starts from last month. Twenty associations (74% – up from 33% in Dec) experienced an increase from their January 2013 housing starts.

Industry Perspective: From David Crowe, NAHB chief economist: “The new year either will see the housing sector break out in a traditional, solid recovery or it will see another mundane nudge forward. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to know that. Unfortunately, any economist with two hands can list forces for both outcomes. But the scale is heavily tipped toward more growth in single-family construction in 2015 than any of the recovery years to date.”

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

View the current monthly Alabama Residential Report here.

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The ACRE New Construction Monthly Report is work product stemming from our partnership with the Home Builder’s Association of Alabama Foundation.

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 ACRE Corporate Cabinet and other statewide ACRE Partners.

For other Alabama real estate resources & news, please visit our website and our ACRE blog.

Alabama new home starts in January rise 13 percent from last year | AL.com.

 

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Madison mayor outlines road expansions, home and building development, new public facilities in State of the City address

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It was a sold-out speech at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Friday night as Madison Mayor Troy Trulock took center stage for his State of the City address.

Most of the mayor’s speech was spent on accolades, education and points of pride in his city. After that, Trulock gave some insight into what lies ahead for Madison with a taste of the projects that will go into play in 2015.

Some of the major developments involve improving Madison’s roads. For example, a five-lane expansion of County Line Road is being accomplished through a partnership between Madison and the state of Alabama. Trulock estimates construction will begin in the next month or two.

There’s also the continuing six-lane development of U.S. 72 from County Line Road to Providence. This is about a five and a half mile stretch, which Trulock said is “not in good shape right now.” He said the continuing effort to fix it has been acknowledged through a partnership between Madison, Huntsville, Madison County and the state.

“Right now if you drive on Highway 72, sometimes it turns into a parking lot. We’re going to fix that,” he said.

The final major road project planned this year is to open an interchange between Interstate 565 and County Line Road, another city and state partnership. The mayor expressed how the need for this interchange is a shared sentiment for those who drive through.

The discussion then turned from roads to buildings. Trulock said more homes and subdivisions will be coming in this year. As such, there will be development of the Village at Oakland Springs outside Browns Ferry Road. This residential and business district will be about two-thirds the size of the Village of Providence and is expected to be reminiscent of its setup. Trulock said the Village at Oakland Springs will hold offices and retail in close proximity to small, medium and large size homes.

A new library could be on the way too. Trulock said the 35,000 square foot plans should be a large improvement over the 15,000 square foot library on Hughes Road. He said crowding has been a problem with the branch’s limited size.

Plans are also being put together for a new recreation building, which would include an indoor pool and basketball and volleyball courts among other athletic facilities. Construction could begin over the summer.

“I know as a coach and as a parent that we need a lot of extra recreation space,” he said, adding, “Definite need for our community.”

Ground should be broken on this project by summer.

In line with the economic front, the continuing development of Town Madison is expected to bring in 1,600 new jobs on top of 1,000 jobs at Intergraph.

Trulock also promised a surprise on the way in terms of economic development. He teased two projects to be placed near the city’s center but could not reveal what they are yet. He said the first of these projects will likely be announced within the next month or two and the other in the next three or four months.

Madison mayor outlines road expansions, home and building development, new public facilities in State of the City address | AL.com.

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