Alabama residential sales in October continued to gradually improve, up 8.9 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. Through October, sales are up 10.6 percent year-over-year and sixty percent of local markets report positive sales growth compared to October 2012.
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Bad cell phone coverage won’t be an issue when hanging out in downtown Madison, now that it has free Wi-Fi access to the internet.
The city installed the Wi-Fi router this week atop Main Street Café and has wireless repeaters on light posts to relay the signal throughout the shopping district and adjacent park.
“Originally, the intent was to have Wi-Fi for special events downtown,” said District 3 Councilman D.J. Klein. “Then we thought, if it’s already set up for events, why not do it all the time.”
To access, you simply need to look for the “Madison_FreeWiFi” network on your wireless device’s menu of available networks and add it. It does not require a password.
Klein said bringing the Wi-Fi downtown was a collaborative effort among the city and downtown interests, particularly Cindy Sensenberger, owner of Main Street Café, for allowing the city to use her restaurant to locate equipment. He didn’t recall the cost for the Wi-Fi system but said it was so minimal it didn’t need council approval.
The signal bandwidth can be adjusted, he added, so it will be set a lower range during normal times and increased for big crowds during special events, such as the upcoming Madison Street Festival.
Jason Colee, director of Information Technology for the city, said crews will temporarily install two additional wireless nodes for the street festival to increase speed and then will move them to permanent homes on Main Street and Front Street.
The free Wi-Fi network arrived the same week that the city began advertising for bids to construct the second phase of downtown improvements. The $1.5 million Phase II calls for redirecting drainage away from Church Street, upgrading parking on Garner Street, burying utilities and replacing lighting. Work is expected to begin later this fall.
Huntsville has placed 14th among Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of the 25 best cities in the U.S. for high-tech startups.
A press release from the city states the magazine based its findings on a report from the technology policy coalition Engine and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which is an entrepreneurship research association. Entrepreneur states this particular research project “focuses on high-tech startups specifically, defining them as new businesses with a concentration of employees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle was not surprised at Huntsville’s placement in this category.
“We brand ourselves as a smart city, where technology marries engineering to provide a vibrant, progressive economy,” Battle said in the release. “Through the years of Huntsville’s proven performance in space and missile defense technologies, we have created an ecosystem that is now supporting start-ups in new fields such as energy, cyber and geospatial. It is an exciting time to live, work and play in Huntsville!”
The list of top 25 cities, in order, include:
1. Boulder, Colo.
2. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
4. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass.
7. San Francisco
8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.
9. Colorado Springs, Colo.
10. Cheyenne, Wyo.
11. Salt Lake City
12. Corvallis, Ore.
13. Raleigh-Cary, N.C.
14. Huntsville, Ala.
15. Provo-Orem, Utah
16. Bend, Ore.
17. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
18. Missoula, Mont.
19. Grand Junction, Colo.
20. Sioux Falls, S.D.
21. Bethesda-Frederick-Rockville, Md.
22. Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
23. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash.
24. Wilmington, Del.
25. Ames, Iowa
Entrepreneur’s article can be found here.
ValleyMLS, the GPS-enabled app, allows consumers to find homes, rental properties, commercial properties and land for sale near by. The app gives users the ability to directly call the Realtor listing a property. Users can also save, favorite and share searches.
HAAR wanted to host a technology expo and launch the app because technology, social media and online real estate databases like Zillow have changed the market for Realtors, said HAAR CEO Kipp Cooper.
Mobile apps and online software have allowed Realtors to close transactions with military personnel overseas or people in other states, Cooper said.
Nobu Hata, director of digital engagement from the National Association of REALTORS, encouraged attendees of the expo to revamp their websites and share as much information as possible with buyers and sellers.
Google and online real estate data base websites like Zillow have made Realtors’ jobs harder because buyers and sellers can look up an abundance of information online, Hata said.
Realtors need to start providing that information on their websites because if they don’t, people will move on, Hata said.
“You’ve got literal rocket scientists moving here,” he said. “Do you think that they’re calling you? No.”
Hata also said that Realtors need to emphasize how they are different from websites like Zillow, which often have false or misleading information on them.
“Technology should make it easier for clients to reach you,” Hata said.
Huntsville/Madison County residential sales totaled 554 units for the month of July. There were 38 more housing units sold compared to the prior month. Residential sales improved 33.8 percent compared to July 2012. Year-to-date sales through July are 11.0 percent ahead of 2012.
Supply: Huntsville housing inventory totaled 3,124 units, an increase of 4.6 percent from last July led by an increase in new home inventory of 23.6 percent. The inventory-to-sales ratio in July stood at 5.6 months of housing supply (3.6 months for new construction), reflecting a decrease of 21.8% from 7.2 months in July 2012. The market equilibrium (balance between supply and demand) is considered to be approximately 6 months. July inventory in Huntsville experienced a .2 percent (7 units) increase when compared to the prior month which is consistent with an expanding market with increased buyer demand. Historical data trends during downturn indicate July inventory on average (’08-’12) increased from the month of June by 3.6 percent. Until the market establishes multiple-month trend lines associated with the impact of sequestration, as it relates to housing demand, keeping an eye on levels of future supply will remain important for the market.
Demand: Existing single family home sales accounted for 73 percent (up from 71% in July’12) of total sales, new homes sales accounted for 24 percent (down from 26% in July’12) while condos were 3 percent of sales (same as July’12).
Residential sales in July increased by 7.4 percent from the prior month. June sales were considered lackluster by most due to the abruptness of recent uptick of interest rates in May/June. Real estate sales volume is seasonal and historical Huntsville data reflects that July sales, on average (’08-’12), decrease from the month of June by 5.4 percent.
Pricing: The Huntsville median selling price in July was $180,000, an increase of 1.4 percent from July 2012. This figure is up 7.1 percent from last month. Historical data (’08-’12) indicates that the July median selling price traditionally increase from the month of June by 3.0 percent. 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. Unlike prior years, a wild card this year is how the market responds to sequestration.
Regarding Interest Rates. “Consumers have taken the interest-rate rise in stride,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist. “Expectations for continued improvement in housing persist, and sentiment toward the current buying and selling environment is back on track from its dip last month. These results are consistent with our own analysis of previous housing cycles, which finds that interest rates and home prices are not strongly correlated.”
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 Commission, the 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.
For other 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.