Birmingham Area Sales Update

Here’s a look at how many homes are for sale in some of the Birmingham area’s more desired neighborhoods, followed by lowest to highest asking price (data is provided by the Greater Alabama MLS, Inc.):

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Shelby County, just south of the Birmingham metro area, is popular with many Buyers who realize how much home they can get for their money…

Birmingham:
Shoal Creek … 13 ($579,9K – $13,900,000)
Mt. Laurel … 14 ($240K – $699,9K)

Hoover:
Greystone … 112 ($149,9K – $6,900,000)
Greystone Ridge … 2 ($149,9K – $189K)
Greystone Legacy … 34 ($404,9K – $1,699,000)
Greystone Village … 1 ($259,9K)
Greystone Cove … 5 ($449K – $1,140,000)
Highland Lakes … 52 ($287,9K – $1,097,900)
Eagle Point … 11 ($184,9K – $675K)
Trace Crossings … 43 ($239,9K – $899K)
Lake Crest … 6 ($327,9K – $499,9)

Pelham:
Ballantrae … 46 ($179,9K – $899,9K)
High Hampton … 1 ($325K)
Mallard Pointe … 3 ($198,5K – $209,9K)

Helena:
Riverwoods … 8 ($229K – $400K)
Hillsboro … 4 ($193,9K – $264,9K)

Inventory is down in many areas around the greater Birmingham area...

With the number of homes having fallen in many communities around Birmingham, it’s not nearly so much of a Buyer’s market as it used to be…

Alabaster:
Sterling Gate … 4 ($129,7K – $214,9K)
Cedar Grove … 3 ($134,9K – $279,9K)
Grande View … 11 ($152,9K – $304,4K)
Wynlake … 2 ($199,9K – $379,9K)
Lake Forest … 7 ($152,K – $294,9K)
Kentwood … 1 ($199,9K)
Weatherly … 10 ($109,9K – $204,9K)

Birmingham area homes for sale by general area…

Jefferson County:
Liberty Park/Vestavia … 342
Homewood … 216

Shelby County:
Bluff Park/Hoover/Riverchase … 108
No. Shelby/Hoover … 498
Chelsea … 259
Helena/Pelham … 323
Alabaster/Maylene/Saginaw … 179
Calera/Montevallo/Wilton … 264

In many communities around the greater Birmingham area, the number of homes for sale is down significantly, compared to previous years.  This is creating more pressure on people looking to buy a home than in the past, since there are fewer homes to choose from.

David

Lake Forest Summer ’13 Sales Update

If you’re looking to buy a home in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, Lake Forest—a lake and sidewalk neighborhood in Alabaster—is a popular choice for several reasons.

It’s attractive, offers a great quality of life, and is in a convenient location.  A number of people who work in Birmingham choose to live in Lake Forest because they enjoy it so much.

Alabaster is also home to the city’s newly formed school system, which has many excited for the future.

Here’s a video update showing homes selling and available in Lake Forest (you can watch this video in high definition if you like—simply click the ‘Full Screen’ icon in the lower right corner of the video window below).

Whether it’s Lake Forest or throughout the north Shelby Co. and south Jefferson Co. areas, we’re ready to help with your home buying or selling needs.

Let us know if we can answer any questions; we’re reachable at 205.356-5412 (voice or text).  

Start packing!

David

Vickers: ‘Perfect Storm’ For Alabaster Schools

Even if you don’t have a child in Alabaster schools…even if you don’t have any connection to the city’s school system, you can’t be around DSC_7025Wayne Vickers long without getting excited.

Alabaster is poised to become a top school system in the state, he’ll tell you.  Vickers isn’t bashful.  The city’s new school system superintendent, who began his job July 1st, will also tell you how the transformation will happen.

Vickers says Alabaster is in a perfect storm of resources, opportunity and people.

Vickers inspires.  His enthusiasm is contagious.

“We will not fail,” he vows.

Many parents have not had the chance to meet Dr. Vickers, or understand his vision for the city’s schools.

So, here’s your chance to hear the man and his plan.  Click the player in the video window below, and enjoy!

Helena Market Days

If you’re looking for a home for sale in the Birmingham area and don’t know the territory well, Shelby Co.—just south of Birmingham—offers a great quality of life.

If you want a great community to live in with plenty of things to do, here’s one of many reasons why Shelby Co. is so popular.

Lots of folks love Helena Market Days, the annual summer farmer’s market that takes place along Buck Creek in Helena every Saturday from 8am until noon.

We thought we’d share some sights and sounds of Market Days from our visit on July 13th.  And nope, we couldn’t leave without some of those wonderful Chilton Co. peaches…they’re just plain hard to beat!

Here’s where you can find more information on Helena Market Days.

Enjoy the video!

David

 

The Hardest Farewell

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Spending time in the screened room at our home in Birmingham, enjoying the peaceful view of nature and watching hummingbirds squabble over feeder rights was Heaven on earth for David L. Black.

UPDATE:
David Luther Black passed away late the morning of June 12, 2013 at his home in Santiago, Chile.

The past five days of my life have been the worst I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve travelled more than 11,000 miles and spent nearly 24 hours in the air going to, and coming from, a place I’ve never been.

But I would not trade those days for anything.

It’s all for my Dad, the Grandfather Dragon.

My trip—from Birmingham 5,000 miles south to Santiago, Chile—was likely my last chance to tell David L. Black anything and everything I’ve ever wanted to say, but didn’t.

This trip was to say goodbye.

Frail and declining, barely able to talk and unable to move, my father may or may not have understood that I had travelled so far to see him, face to face where he lay, in the bedroom of his home, 12 stories up in the polluted air of Santiago, only a few miles west of the Andes mountains.

At one point, when asked if he knew who I was, he said he had no idea.

I will never know for sure, although my best guess is that he knew I was there, at least part of the time.

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A father and his young son enjoy a horseback ride while on vacation in the mountains of Red River, New Mexico, early 1960s.

Although physically apart my entire adult life, my father and I have always been close.  We each had our own lifestyles, work and preferences about where to live.

E-mails and phone calls between us were routine.  On special occasions—maybe once every year or so on average—I would get to see him.  A few times, I might get to see him more than once in a year…quite a treat.  Only while I was a child would we live in the same city.  After that, never again.

Are you one of those people whose father was always close by?  Perhaps a few blocks or a few miles away?  If so, I am envious.

Christmases and birthdays were almost never spent together.  But presents always showed up; he never forgot.  His marriage to his Chilean wife saw him relocate from Washington, D.C., and later Miami, to Santiago several years ago.

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From Santiago, how easily the Andes mountains, east of downtown, can be seen, depends on the amount of smog on any given day.

With his health declining, I wanted to be close to help.  His decision to move to South America was not one I embraced comfortably.  But it was his call.

During the few days I spent with him in Santiago, I didn’t hold back on anything I had ever wanted to say.

Father and son enjoy a September 2006 visit to Birmingham's Pepper Place farmer's market.

Father and son enjoy a September 2006 visit to Birmingham’s Pepper Place farmer’s market.

I told him how thankful I am to him for all the things he has made possible in my life (that brought an unmistakable grin from ear to ear).

But as I reflect back on the man who has been a continuous part of my life for over half a century, I realize that I have to let go of someone who has been much more than just Dad.  

He has been my constant friend, my cohort, the person with whom I could always share stories of the exciting or mundane.

My childhood is full of great memories with my father that I get to keep for the rest of my days.

From spending time on the Texas coast, to going to church in my hometown of San Antonio, to all the times he took me to Jim’s restaurant to get my favorite hamburger, the number 6 (hickory sauce with onions).

There were countless tennis matches we played (including during a vacation to Bermuda), and trips to the bowling alley on San Antonio’s Austin Highway.

Like his son, my father was a prolific writer.  As a child, he would tell me dragon stories before bed.  These were stories he always built around me and my childhood cat, Smudge.

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Fisbo always loved visits from ‘Grandpa’ because they meant an extra lap for parking and petting.

In the stories, a young boy named David and his cat, Smudge, made friends with powerful but friendly dragons who never had contact with any other humans, but helped fight evil or alleviate problems for mankind’s benefit.  Not a story went by without dragons shooting out fire and smoke in a blast always titled, “WHOOSH!”


Nearly every story drew wisdom and lessons learned from a much older, wiser fire breathing Grandfather Dragon who, despite his advancing age, was all knowing and all powerful.

During the last several years, Colleen and I convinced Dad to write a few more dragon stories and send them to us.  Whenever a new story arrived via e-mail, reading it—devouring it, really—was a treat for both of us.

Dad played a huge role in my start in the broadcasting business, helping me get hired for my first real summer job as a 14-year-old disc jockey on radio station KVOP in Plainview, the small Texas panhandle town where he grew up.

Dad arranged for me to live with his mother that summer in the same house where he grew up.  Still too young to drive, I rode my bicycle to work.  But that was okay:  I making $1.35 an hour and was a DJ on the radio.  I was on cloud nine.  It didn’t get any better than that.

Dad stood by me when I made all my life’s decisions, be they good ones or poor.

Yet, despite having plenty of opportunities to do so, I cannot ever recall one time when he was critical of me for something I had done.

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Born and raised in the small Texas panhandle town of Plainview, David L. Black would become a world traveler, with business projects taking him to Europe, Asia and, most frequently, South America.

I can’t count the number of times he would tell me how proud of me he was for various accomplishments.

If I shared the news of a previous Client contacting us in our real estate business to help them with another sale, he would typically respond by saying something like, “It’s obvious that people in Birmingham know what a good job the two of you do.”

Last summer, I received what I suspected then would be a fabulous gift.

My father came to the states and stayed with us in Birmingham for almost three weeks.  It was a wonderful visit.  This was the longest time we had spent together in over 30 years.

He needed time to unwind, and that’s exactly what he did.  More than anything, he loved sitting in our home’s screened porch, enjoying the view of nature, and petting Fisbo, our six pound poodle, who was thrilled that ‘Grandpa’ was visiting, since that meant another available lap to occupy for getting attention.

Dad told Colleen and me he felt ten years younger as a result of his stay.

We urged him to stay longer (the Father motel is always open, I assured him), but he said he had to go back to Chile to tend to matters there.  With his difficulty walking, I cringed at the thought of him having to endure twelve hours of flying, making connections, clearing customs and waiting in lines.

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Visits to Birmingham always included dining out. Dad got a real kick out of the night we went to a Persian restaurant, complete with a belly dancer.

He said he would be back, but seeing him struggle more and more to even walk, I wondered whether his stay with us then would be his last.

As my father’s years advanced, his stay in Chile seemed to come at more and more of a price.  He told me of trying to join churches there, but never feeling welcome as a foreigner in such a vastly different culture.

In many ways, I sensed he felt lonely.

I tried to keep in regular contact.  Discussions often focused on how much fun it would be to see him again.  “I’m sure looking forward to getting back and seeing you two,” he would say.

While staying with us, he began attending services at The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, a small church only a few blocks from our home.  The Rev. Lee Lowery, a friendly and welcoming pastor there, helped give my Dad the spiritual nourishment he had been unable to find elsewhere.  It gave me peace to know he had found this respite of compassion.

Knowing that his remaining days left are likely few, I declared June 8th as Father’s Day in Chile.  I opened the card I had written and read it aloud to him at his bedside:

You will always be my father, and I will always be grateful
for what you have made possible in my life.

Thank you for being my constant friend and guide.

As I write this, how much more time remains—be it days, weeks or longer—is not for me to know.

I owe him so much.  I knew I could never forgive myself if I didn’t try to see him one last time.

“You better get here as soon as you can,” family members said.

As our American Airlines Boeing 767 shot across the equator at 500 miles an hour in the middle of the night last week, I prayed he would hold on for me to get there.

I kissed his forehead.

I will never forget you, I told him.

And in a turnaround from what I’ve heard all my life from him, I told him how proud I am of him.

I cannot begin to describe how much I will miss him.

While sitting by his bed, watching his body struggle with every breath and holding his hand and stroking his forehead, I heard an unmistakable, clear-as-day sound I absolutely did not expect.

“WHOOSH.”

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If you need to slip away, that’s okay, Dad.

I love you, Dad.

Always.

Alabaster’s CityFest: Fun For All

If you’re looking for a home for sale in the Birmingham area and are wondering what living in the community is like, here’s a taste.

Alabaster, one of Shelby county’s most popular cities, has just concluded another very successful CityFest, a family friendly day of food, arts, crafts, games, rides, entertainment and more, put together by the City of Alabaster with support from area businesses.

Check out our video of the festivities:

Happy Home Owners in Birmingham

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Rick and Deborah Halbrooks have just bought a waterfront home in Birmingham’s Highland Lakes. Rick can’t wait to get out and see if the fish are biting…

We always appreciate getting notes from our Clients, like this latest one from Rick and Deborah Halbrooks.  When we first spoke with Rick, he said something that really caught our attention:  Rick said he had been living in the same house for over 40 years!

“You and Colleen did a wonderful job of representing us and earned every cent of your commission.

As a sales manager, it irritates me to have a sales rep get a big commission check when they don’t do much work; this was certainly not the case with you two.

You were always available, quick to research anything you didn’t know and answered our questions promptly.

You were available to meet us at the house on numerous occasions, made the arrangements, coordinated schedules and generally made us feel like we were the only customer you were working with (I know this was not the case — you are constantly juggling lots of deals).

We appreciate your efforts and for helping us make the only move in 42 (me)/31 (Deborah) years a pleasant experience.”

If you’re looking for a home for sale in the greater Birmingham/Shelby Co. Alabama area, give us a call.

We’re ready to help!

Germany Gains Two Cats From Alabama

You’re looking at what was almost a $2,500 cat.

Times two.Juergen & Helga Lauer

Colleen and I had a great time helping Juergen and Helga Lauer of Lake Forest in Alabaster sell their home.

The Lauers were moving to Germany.

Getting everything shipped overseas went pretty smoothly…until it came to the Lauer’s two cats.

The moving company said, ‘sure, we’ll ship them—for $2,500 each.’

We guess that was almost enough to put Juergen and Helga into a—pardon the pun—catatonic state.

Surely, the Lauers wondered, there must be a less expensive way to transport two cats from Alabama to Germany!

After some more research, the Lauers found their solution:  Delta.

$200 each, flown/done.

No word on what the cats thought of the trip…

Spring Sales Update For Lake Forest

Looking for a home for sale in the general Birmingham, Alabama area?

Here’s an update we’ve produced on market activity in Lake Forest, a popular Shelby Co. neighborhood that’s an easy drive into downtown Birmingham:

Let us know if we can help…

USDA Financing To Stick Around

Good news if you’ve been thinking of buying a home in the Birmingham general area…USDA no down payment financing

With two days left to spare, the government has decided not to allow a change to take effect that would have meant the removal of Calera as one of the communities eligible for no-down-payment home mortgage financing.

Congress has passed a resolution that preserves the areas where homes are eligible for USDA loans.  The bill must be signed by the President before becoming law, but that is expected to happen shortly.

USDA loans are popular with many Buyers because they can be an affordable way of purchasing a home.  The loans are available for properties in specific geographical areas designated by the government.

The decision by Congress means that the home we currently have listed in Calera will continue to be eligible for USDA’s no-down-payment financing: