Blog Archives

Cam Ward’s Shelby Co. Economic Update

We just never know who’s going to walk in the door around here.  But I’m not complaining!

It’s always enjoyable and educational to sit and talk with Republican State Rep. Cam Ward, who is a candidate for the Alabama State Senate.

Most Shelby Co. and Birmingham area civic, business and legislative leaders know Cam well, in part, for his track record as a State Representative.  He’s also Executive Director of Alabaster’s Industrial Development Board.

With so many jitters about the national economy, what’s Cam’s take on the economy closer to home here in the Shelby Co. and Birmingham area?

That’s one of the questions we put to Cam, who’s the guest in our latest netcast.

Click the player just below to listen now…

…or click here to download.

We hope you enjoy … and thanks, Cam, for stopping by!

David Black

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!


Buy-Downs: Helping Buyer And Seller

So, you have to knock the price way, way down to get your home sold? Not always. While price is certainly important when it comes to getting your home sold, it’s not the only way to achieve a successful sale.

Ever heard of a buy-down? Lots of people have, but not everyone understands it. It’s not as complicated as you might think.

KC Haririan, First Federal Mortgage

KC Haririan, First Federal Mortgage

A buy-down could be the ticket to getting a home sold in a deal that’s better for the seller and the buyer.

K. C. Haririan, a Loan Officer with First Federal Mortgage in Birmingham, is here to explain how buy-downs work.

So, how is the Shelby Co. and Birmingham home market looking as we forge ahead into 2009? We’ll share our thoughts and observations–and we’ll see if Fisbo, our very spoiled five pound poodle, barks during our recording session.

Click the player just below to listen:

Fisbo,the wonder dog

Fisbo, the wonder dog

Care to download the program so you can listen to it later?

Click here to download…

We hope you enjoy the netcast!

David, Colleen and Fisbo

Recession in Shelby County? Hmmm…

Are folks cutting back on spending?  Judge for yourself:

Shelby County's Colonial Promenade Shopping Center in Alabaster...

Jittery economy? Maybe, but at least on Saturday evenings, the Colonial Promenade Shopping Center can be a busy place.

Money seems to be changing hands without too much difficulty at Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade. With the AmStar movie theaters, four restaurants and two ice cream places within walking distance of where I took this picture, parking spaces wind up at a premium some times.

The week before, Colleen and I found waits of over an hour at a couple of restaurants at the Promenade. We finally had to drive north into Hoover. With scenes like these, I’d have to say that central Alabama’s economy could be in a lot worse shape!


2008 Home Sales: Facing The Challenge

The latest numbers for home sales in the Shelby county and Birmingham area confirm that 2008 saw a significant downward slide in the market.  A report by the Birmingham Association of Realtors shows home sales down by 29% for the year, compared to 2007.

Average prices slipped by 5%, and the average number of days homes stayed on the market stood at 100 for 2008, up from 96 in 2007.  Home sales for December, 2008 totaled 798, which is down by 32% compared to December, 2007.

Looking at Home Sales in Shelby County for 2009

While 2008 home sales in Birmingham and Shelby County, Alabama dropped 29% compared to the year before, inventory continues to drop, and experts say the market remains poised to make a significant improvement.

It’s interesting to compare these statistics with other markets.  While home values in Birmingham lost 5%, prices dropped closer to 11% when averaged nationally, and 32% in California.  So, as we have stated before, while our local market does wind up seeing most of the same trends that occur elsewhere in the country, the undulations in Birmingham and Shelby county home sales are typically nowhere near as extreme.  And for that, we can be thankful.

While our local market numbers aren’t what homeowners or people in the industry want to see, there is reason to be optimistic that home sales will pick back up.  As people knowledgeable about real estate market trends are well known for saying, it’s only a matter of time.

Negative news-satured owners are facing fear about selling their homes.  A good way to counter that is by obtaining expert information about whats happening with the market in your local area.

Negative news-saturated owners are facing fear about selling their homes. A good way to counter that is by obtaining expert information about what's happening with the market right here in Shelby county.

With our climate of 24-hour negative news these days, a number of homeowners who would like to think about selling are having to deal with fear.   You may be uneasy, wondering how long it will take to sell your home.  And then there’s the question of whether you might wind up with as much money in your pocket as you’ve been hoping.  And if a foreclosure pops up in your neighborhood, what then?  Would you wind up feeling even more uneasy about selling?  So, what to do?

Look carefully at homes that are selling in the area, and those that are not selling.  What’s the difference?  Price is certainly a huge consideration, but so is appearance.  A third factor—that is making more and more difference in whether a home sells these days—is how it’s marketed.  Not all homes for sale get the same exposure.

The fact that homes continue to sell—even in the middle of the constant barrage of negative news—clearly demonstrates that the local market continues to be healthier than many people realize.

Here’s another reason to feel that better times are ahead:  Inventory—the number of homes for sale—fell by 19% during 2008.  At the end of the year, there were 10,201 homes for sale, compared to 12,642 at the end of 2007.  If that trend continues, then it’s safe to conclude that the ‘Buyer’s Market’ is beginning to shift more back into balance.

If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, but are perplexed or somewhat uneasy about the current market and your prospects to sell, there’s an easy solution:  Give us a call.  We will be glad to take a close look at the history and trends of home sales, targeted to your neighborhood.  We’ll then be able to present you with a projection of how long your home might need to sell, and at what price a buyer would consider reasonable.  This could be valuable information to help you with selling during this around-the-clock negative news era.

Colleen and David

The Silver Lining Lurks…

With all the news about government bailouts, plummeting shares and takeovers aimed at preventing failures, are dark days ahead for the economy?  Some, no doubt, think so.  But I can’t help but sense that—amid all the financial maneuvering and restructuring—something else is lurking:  Opportunity.

Oh, I might be nuts for thinking this, but I see some investors—the ones who’ve been conservative and cautious while others were wreckless—as coming out real winners in the long run.

Never a dull moment!

Never a dull moment!

For example, consider American International Group, Inc., which is trying to come up with cash to pay off an $85 billion dollar government loan.  AIG owns $16 billion in real estate holdings throughout the world, including a 15-floor building in Marunouchi, Japan’s most expensive business district.  Some of these so-called ‘trophy’ properties, which don’t come up for sale often, may wind up with a big ‘For Sale’ sign out front.  Unfortunately, holdings like these are a little out of my league (!), but for someone, I think they spell ‘opportunity’ in a big way.

And speaking of opportunity, with the news media so focused on uncertain economic times, you may have missed what may be shaping up to be a modern day gold rush unfolding in one part of the Gulf Coast.  Speculation is growing that a natural gas discovery called the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana could be huge.  Energy companies are buying mineral rights from property owners at a fast pace.

These are just a few of the reasons why real estate continues to be such a valuable commodity and—even during a jittery financial market—a solid investment.


Shelby Co. Real Estate Market: “Hyper Local” and Healthy

Want to know the health of the real estate market in a specific neighborhood? Knowing something about the market in general for a broad area may not give the information you need. More and more these days, market behavior is becoming addressable to specific neighborhoods.

Hyper Local, a term emerging in real estate that refers to markets in very specific regions, is one of the topics we cover in our new netcast now on-line. We also discuss how the local market around Pelham, Alabaster, Helena and North Shelby County is performing — and the news is encouraging, whether you’re thinking of buying a home, or if you’re considering selling.

Click the player button just below to listen now. Or, click to download here so you can transfer to your portable player.

As always, we hope you enjoy!

David and Colleen