Monthly Archives: March 2009

Buying Real Estate? History Can Help…

When investing in my first mutual fund years ago, I was given the following advice: If you plan on needing this money within five years, you’d be better off putting it in a low risk investment such as a CD or, perhaps, a money market account. With the stock market going up and down constantly, that made good sense to me.

The same can be said for investing in real estate. When deciding to buy a home, if you don’t plan on staying there for at least five years, you may be better off renting. In spite of the recent market swings, real estate can still be a sound investment. All you really need is a bit of common sense:

  • Don’t overextend yourself
  • Know that your purchase is a good value
  • Understand that, in time, values will begin to appreciate once again.

    This advice is nothing new. It’s the same in any market. Once you begin to speculate and/or overextend yourself, you become vulnerable to conditions you have no control over.

    The past few years have been like another gold rush. People were speculating that property values would increase so quickly that it made sense to borrow 100% or even 103% of a property’s value. These folks were sure they would build equity quickly. The lenders, too, were sure that this would happen, and felt comfortable lending money to high risk borrowers. In reality, no one had a crystal ball.

    Yes, hindsight is 20-20. Remember when a 20% down payment was required to buy a home? Lenders had good collateral, and borrowers were less likely to take risky chances with their own hard earned savings. People would save for several years in order to make a good down payment on their home. And over the years, as they upgraded, their down payment was increasingly more substantial, as they hadn’t used up their equity, paying off other debts.

    Sometimes it really pays to look back in history and see what works and what doesn’t.


  • BusinessWeek: Alabaster is Alabama’s Top Suburb

    Where’s a good place to live in Alabama?

    Walking trails like this one in Alabasters Lake Forest neighborhood help provide the quality of life Shelby Co. residents enjoy.

    Walking trails like this one in Alabaster's Lake Forest neighborhood help provide the quality of life Shelby Co. residents enjoy.

    We already know Shelby County is tough to beat.  But now, BusinessWeek magazine says Alabaster is the state’s most affordable suburb.

    BusinessWeek determines which city in each state gets top honors by considering housing prices, crime, education, the economy, commute time and quality of life.

    According to the magazine, Alabaster’s median household income stands at $69,443, the unemployment rate at 2.3% and the area enjoys an average commute time of 30 minutes.  Not bad…

    Slowly but surely, the word continues to get out that Shelby county, Alabama is a great place to call home!


    Birmingham/Shelby County Homes For Sale

    Here’s a look at current inventory for the Shelby County and Birmingham areas, as indicated by the Birmingham Multiple Listing Service:

    Number of homes available:

    Helena & Pelham area (Shelby Co.): 521
    Helena & Pelham area (Jefferson Co.): 58
    North Shelby/Hoover area (Shelby Co.): 701
    Chelsea: 324
    Altadena/Cahaba Heights area: 62
    Liberty Park/Vestavia area: 446
    Alabaster, Maylene & Saginaw area: 372
    Calera, Montevallo & Wilton area: 356
    Columbiana, Westover & Wilsonville area: 89

    Number of homes for sale based on current selling price:

    Alabaster, Maylene and Saginaw area:
    $150,000-$200,000: 131
    $200,000-$300,000: 86

    Helena and Pelham areas (Shelby Co.):
    $150,000-$200,000: 166
    $200,000-$300,000: 124

    Helena and Pelham areas (Jefferson Co.):
    $150,000-$200,000:   2
    $200,000-$300,000:  21

    $150,000-$200,000:  99
    $200,000-$300,000: 120


    March Brings Snow To Alabama

    Wow, you just don’t see scenes like this in Shelby County (or Alabama) very often!

    I’m not sure Fisbo, our spoiled poodle, is a snow poodle.  He seemed a lot more interested in climbing up my leg and being held while I was shooting pictures:

    And yes, through rain, sleet or snow … we are still showing houses.  In fact, we’ll be showing a home to buyers in the Alabaster area in just another couple of hours—snow or no snow!