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Calera and Chelsea to Lose USDA Loan Coverage

If you’re thinking of buying a home in Shelby County’s Calera or Chelsea area and are planning on financing your purchase with a no-down-payment USDA loan, you better get moving with your purchase, because time may be about to run out.

As of October first, the USDA is expected to update the areas that qualify for its loans.  For Shelby Co., this means that Calera—which has long been a popular spot for home Buyers using USDA financing—will be dropped from the eligibility list.   Chelsea is also set to be dropped.

In Walker Co., Jasper will be dropped from USDA loan eligibility, as will Moody and Pell City in St. Clair Co., and Pleasant Grove in Jefferson Co.
In all, more than 90 communities will be removed from the list of qualifying areas.

The change in qualifying areas is not a 100% sure thing.  At least one U.S. Congressman—Republican Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska—is pushing to get Congress to order a one year extension of USDA’s existing eligibility zones.  Others pushing USDA to grant an extension include the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders and the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Why does USDA plan to change the zones?  The answer lies partly with the 2010 Census.   An existing grandfathering clause allowed any community considered ‘rural’ in 1990 to continue to be eligible for USDA funding until the 2010 Census, as long as it has a population below 25,000 and met other critera.  That clause, which was first enacted in 1990 and extended in 2000, is now set to expire.

So, unless Congress takes action, many communities that currently qualify for USDA financing will lose their eligibility—and for many of those areas, USDA loans are the only source of federal housing funding.


New Competition for Selling Your Home

Thinking of selling your home?

You already know there’s plenty of competition here in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area.

But now, there’s a new force to deal with. Check out our video just below. This all started when we decided to pay a visit to a recently listed Foreclosure in Alabaster’s Lake Forest; you may be interested to see what’s happening inside…

We’re ready to help you with getting your home sold, successfully, and sooner, rather than later.

Give us a call at 205.677.8696…


Selling Your Home Without A Crystal Ball

Ever wished for a crystal ball so you’d know what’s ahead? That might, or might not, be a good thing, depending on what you want to know…!

On the one hand, having a crystal ball to look into the real estate market could sure help ease concerns for some folks here in the Birmingham and Shelby county areas. Or would it?

Crystal Ball - Home For Sale Birmingham

Suppose you’re thinking of selling your home. Would you be more inclined to sell sooner, if, say, the ball suggested values would continue to slide in 2010? What if the ball suggested you’d get more if you wait?

I don’t think we really need a crystal ball to know that home values will rise. Nearly every expert out there predicts they will, at some point.

It’s those last three words that are the kicker: At some point.

Hmm. Does that mean in the next three months? Ten months? Two years? This is where having a crystal ball would be pretty handy.

However, crystal balls are about as plentiful as bumper stickers in Alabama supporting the Texas Longhorns. People ask us questions frequently that would pretty much need a crystal ball to answer accurately. “What is my home going to be worth in a year?” would be one such question.

“What will my home sell for if I list it right now?”

Ahh. There’s a question that doesn’t need a crystal ball as badly to answer. We have good resources we can draw upon to come up with a figure that—more times than not—winds up being very close to actual selling price.

Birmingham homeThe fact is that if your home ‘shows nicely’ as Agents like to say, and is priced where we know Buyers will bite, your odds of selling are promising. And, yes, that’s true even in the tough market affecting so many neighborhoods in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. areas as we plow into 2010.

This might sound ridiculously obvious to some, but the ‘shows nicely, priced right’ concept is one we’ve seen trip up a lot of people trying to sell their homes. So, not everyone really understands how important this really is. Or put another way, not everyone really ‘gets it.’

During 2009, we represented Sellers who agreed to price their homes where we suggested. Granted, they weren’t always thrilled with the price we recommended. But they swallowed hard and said, ‘okay.’ Why? Because they needed to sell. Helping ease this frustration was their knowledge that—when they turned around to buy another home—they’d be enjoying the opposite side of the tough selling market, getting a very good deal on the home they’re buying.

We also dealt with Sellers in 2009 who disagreed with us. They felt they had a better idea than we did of what their home would would sell for. And guess what happened with their efforts to sell? Nothing. Zilch. Their homes didn’t sell, despite being on the market plenty long enough to sell. I remember several cases where other homes in the same neighborhood as our Clients’ house sold, and in the general price range we had recommended.

There were some cases where our Client’s home never even got an Offer. We always talk about how important it is to listen to what the market is telling us. Let me assure you of one thing: If a home for sale doesn’t even get an Offer, that’s the market talking. It may even be shouting.

sold Alabaster homeI know one thing for sure about trying to get a home sold in this market. You either have to ‘get it,’ or you have to trust your Agent’s advice. Otherwise, your home is probably not destined to sell.

I think the real question that emerges is: How badly do you want, or need, to sell?

Clearly, there are many situations for folks where—regardless of how the market may be performing at the moment—it’s important to sell sooner, rather than later. Some Sellers who contact us tell us they need to sell as fast as possible, and are waiting for us to tell them what to do to make it so.

These are the people we feel confident we can help.

And no, we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the outcome.

But listening to the market and to your Agent go a long way right now, and will most likely mean you can start packing sooner, rather than later.


October Birmingham/Shelby Co. Home Sale Stats

Getting your home sold in Shelby County is taking longer in some communities and less time in others, while prices have dropped, according to October statistics from the Birmingham Multiple Listing System.

The average number of days on market increased in Alabaster and Chelsea, but fell in Helena, Pelham and Calera:

Days On Market  JUN-OCT 2009
Click here to see a larger version of the Average Days On Market graphic

Prices continued a downward trend in October, and substantially so, compared to September:

Average Prices  JUN-OCT 2009
Click here to see a larger version of the Average Sales Price graphic

How many homes are selling?

Except for Calera, the number of homes sold in October dropped from September. Chelsea saw the sharpest one month drop, while more homes sold in Calera during October than in September:

Homes Sold  - JUN-OCT 2009
Click here to see a larger version of the Number of Homes Sold graphic

Why the uptick in Calera?

Perhaps it’s the large inventory of low cost housing (both new and resale), making for some very attractive deals for first time home buyers, along with the fact that Calera qualifies for USDA financing (which means loans with no down payment required).

I think these statistics are giving us some important messages.

If you’re planning on buying a home, the market is continuing to work very much in your favor in the Birmingham and Shelby County area. Prices have dropped, inventory is in plentiful supply, and loans continue to be very affordable.

If you’re trying to sell, the message these numbers present is that it’s going to take a lot more than just putting a For Sale sign in the yard.

Marketing plays a more critical role than ever, and must be done in innovative ways if your home is to stand out among all the other properties for sale.

Pricing is no less important and will be a huge deciding factor in how quickly you sell, or if you sell, at all (believe me, we have seen examples of both!).

You may also benefit from an informed assessment of your property’s appearance and condition. With so many homes for sale right now, if your property doesn’t sparkle, Buyers will simply move on to another.

These are some very good reasons for trusting the sale of your home to an Agent who’s knowledgeable about the market here in the Shelby Co./Birmingham area and who knows how to achieve success in spite of challenging economic conditions.


Birmingham Home Sale Prices

How much does it cost to buy a home in the Birmingham/Shelby Co. area?  Here are a few numbers that really show the variety of inventory and pricing currently available.  Remember that these are asking, and not sold, prices:

Homes For Sale:  370
Under $150,000:  125
$150,000-$199,999:  111
$200,000-$249,999:  51
$250,000+:  83 just_listed2

Helena/Pelham (Shelby Co.)
Homes For Sale:  502
Under $150,000:   148
$150,000-$199,999:  153
$200,000-$249,999:  72
$250,000+:  129

No. Shelby Co./Hoover
Homes For Sale:  725
Under $150,000:  30
$150,000-$199,999: 41
$200,000-$249,999: 127
$250,000+:  527

Homes For Sale:   287
Under $150,000:   23
$150,000-$199,999:  92
$200,000-$249,999:  53
$250,000+:  119

Homes For Sale:  334
Under $150,000:  203
$150,000-$199,999:   77
$200,000-$249,999:  29
$250,000+:  25

Source:  Birmingham Multiple Listing System


Homes For Sale in Birmingham & Shelby County

Here’s a look at how many homes are currently for sale in:

Alabaster – 389
Altadena/Cahaba Heights – 50
Calera – 297
Clanton – 179
Columbiana – 52
Chelsea – 255
Helena – 269
Hoover – 982
Indian Spring – 32
Inverness – 56
Liberty Park/Vestavia – 452
Meadow Brook – 13
Montevallo – 100
Pelham – 333
Vincent – 27

Source: Birmingham Area Multiple Listing Service


Birmingham/Shelby County Home Sales Update

The Birmingham and Shelby county real estate market offers lots of styles, locations and prices to choose from

Birmingham and Shelby county offer a large inventory of homes, like this house on a lake in Chelsea.

Just how many choices do you have when it comes to finding a home in the Birmingham and Shelby county, Alabama area? The answer is: A lot!

Here’s a look at the number of homes for sale in a few different parts of Shelby and Jefferson counties, as of October 24, 2008, from the Birmingham Area Multiple Listing Service:

  • By City:
  • Alabaster: 391
    Calera: 264
    Chelsea: 244
    Helena: 267
    Hoover: 990
    Montevallo: 96
    Pelham: 339
    Vestavia: 331

  • By Neighborhood:
  • Old Cahaba (Helena): 43
    Ballantrae (Pelham): 65
    Riverchase (Hoover): 50
    Wild Timber (Pelham): 7
    Savannah Pointe (Calera): 31
    Saddle Lake Farms (Alabaster): 9
    Stonehaven (Pelham): 20

    Needless to say, the numbers certainly show that you’ve got a lot of choices if you’re thinking of buying a home in the Birmingham or Shelby county area. Whatever the style, whatever the price you want to pay and whatever the neighborhood you’d like to be in, there are options aplenty. Let us know if we can help…