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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!



Saying Goodbye to ‘D’ Over Chili

Sometimes, saying goodbye isn’t easy.

Even when you know the time is coming.

I had no blood relation to George Dennis Yawn, or “D,” as many of his family members called him.  But it didn’t matter.  Dennis treated me like family, anyway.  And that wasn’t surprising, because that’s how Dennis’ wife, Martha, their son, Russell, his wife, Angie, and Dennis’ daughters, Gail and Laura, and their families have treated me over the years, as well.

The Yawn family’s yearly New Year’s Day celebrations—complete with Dennis’ homemade chili—became a tradition for me, starting roughly ten years ago, when I was invited to join them at their home in Helena one January 1st.

Dennis would sometimes start work on the chili days in advance, trying various mixes of spices and ingredients.  During a few chili gatherings, you even had your choice:  spicy or not so spicy.  There was always plenty of other food, football games to be watched on television and lots of kids running through the house.

A few times, when I got so full of food that I couldn’t move, I joked with Dennis that I’d have to take a break but that I’d be back in a few more hours for another round of eating.  In his ever calm demeanor, Dennis would say, “come on.”  Dennis made it clear that I didn’t need an invitation.  When he said come on, he was serious.

One year, when invited to an upcoming New Year’s chili gathering, I mentioned to Dennis that—as much as I appreciated the invitation—I didn’t want to invade on what I’m sure was intended to be a family gathering.

Dennis was quick to correct my thinking.  I was expected to show up.

The chili was always good, but it wasn’t just Dennis’ culinary efforts each New Year’s Day
that helped draw me into the Yawn family.  It was Dennis and the Yawn family.  Every one of them.

There are people whose every word you have to be careful about trusting, and then there are people who are as solid, genuine and down to earth in their dealings with you as could ever be imagined possible.

Honesty and a willingness to help others was a big part of how Dennis was wired.  If you needed help, he was there, no questions asked.

Dennis lived a modest, quiet life, working every day to excel as a husband, father, grandparent and friend.  He was neither flashy nor extravagant.  And he served his country, as well, in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, prior to working in the private sector.

Dennis’ spiritual strength was unmatched.  Despite the loss of a son many years ago, he never held what happened against anyone.   One day, I had to ask how he and Martha coped with such a devastating loss, so I stopped by to visit.  When I pulled up, Dennis and Martha were outside, pulling weeds from in front of their home.  I explained what had been going through my mind.  “How do you do it?” I asked.  Wasting no time, Dennis pointed his finger upward and, with a tone of total confidence,  answered, saying, “He’s in control.”

Dennis was a well known face around the Helena community, having served 17 years with the City’s Utility Board.  If you had questions or problems involving water, Dennis was the go-to man.

In the pre-dawn hours of December 13, 2011, after 83 years, George Dennis Yawn quietly slipped away, but not before his family had a chance to let him know, one last time, what he means to them.

“D” leaves behind a family including twelve grandchildren he had a ball spending time with.  What about trying to fill the void he leaves?  No one will even try to go there.

For me, the sadness is heavy, but I must confess to feeling some joy.  I am so blessed to have known this man and his family, and to have spent time around him, enjoying the fellowship and wry humor that were such a regular part of life in the Yawn household.

What if I had never crossed paths with Russell, who I met through our mutual involvement in amateur radio, and who would eventually introduce me to Dennis and the rest of his family?  What if all the wonderful times I’ve had with the whole Yawn family were to have never been a part of my life?  It would be my loss.

Russell and I got joy in helping Dennis get his amateur radio license, too, and getting to talk with him on the air.  Ham radio operators frequently make fun of their government-issued callsigns.  Dennis’ radio callsign was KD4THB.  It wasn’t long before we all got laughs from referring to Dennis as THB, the thick headed bozo.  Dennis took it in stride; when he saw a chance to get in a jab at us, he took advantage of the opportunity.

In my friendship with Dennis, I’ve wound up with an additional gift:  I have the chance to try to be like him.  If I can work to be a better person, to be more understanding and to show more compassion, then Dennis’ spirit lives on.

And it just may be that the annual New Year’s Day chili gatherings won’t end with Dennis’ passing.

As family members prepare for Dennis’ December 16th service, Laura seriously kicks around an idea:  “What if we continue the chili gatherings in honor of D?”

I have no doubt Dennis is grinning ear-to-ear at the prospect.



Jeff De Shazo Joins The Black Team

Colleen and I have some exciting news to pass along…

Jeff De Shazo is joining forces with us to help folks looking to buy homes.

Jeff De Shazo

So, just who is this Jeff character, anyway?

With nearly fourteen years as a Realtor—he also holds a Broker’s license—Jeff is no stranger to the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area real estate industry. His knowledge of the business is as solid as you can get.

Jeff has helped individuals and families make real estate purchases throughout the region.

So, why are we joining forces? The answer is pretty simple, actually.

Jeff has always impressed us with his professionalism and friendliness.

When it comes to how we believe Clients should be served, we found that we have so much in common with Jeff that working as a Team just seems to make sense.

In addition to helping with the sales of existing homes, Jeff has several years experience in sales of new homes. That’s especially valuable these days, because there are so many opportunities to buy new homes at unheard of prices.

Jeff is a great source of information if you’ve been thinking of buying a new or existing home in the Birmingham or Shelby Co. area. Whether you’re buying again or for the first time, he’s ready to help.

You can reach Jeff at 205-223-7653, or click here to contact Jeff by e-mail.

By the way … Fisbo, our spoiled six pound poodle, has given Jeff his official seal of approval, as well…


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…


Birmingham 2011 Home Sales: Market Thoughts

If you’re thinking of selling your home during 2011, does it make sense to sell sooner, rather than later?

This may be something to consider after listening to Tom Horn, an appraiser who specializes in home values in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. areas.

That’s because of what may be ahead in the coming months, which could make it tougher to sell later in the year.

On the other hand, Tom has been looking at price trends in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area during the past year, and he has seen some changes from previously observed drops. For homeowners uncertain about trying to sell their properties, the trends—while not wonderful news—are actually a little encouraging.

We caught up with Tom to get his thoughts on what’s happening with home values here, and to ask what he thinks may be ahead. Whether you’ve been thinking about selling or buying a home in the Birmingham/Alabaster and Shelby Co. area, you may find Tom’s observations helpful.

Click the player just below…

…or click here if you’d like to download and listen to this interview on your personal listening device.

You can learn a lot more about pricing and trends from visiting Tom Horn’s Birmingham Appraisal blog, a great source of information on values and other appraisal-related news affecting the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Tom’s services, visit his appraisal-source website here.

Tom is a good source of information on home values. He is even having folks who are thinking of selling their home call him in advance to appraise their properties … that, coupled with talking with an Agent familiar with the area, is a good way to know up front what your home’s ultimate selling price is likely to be.

Thanks, Tom, for the great information…


Birmingham Lender Clears Up Market Myths

If you’re seeing and hearing news suggesting that you’re wiser to hold off on buying a home, a talk with folks knowledgeable about the real estate market in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area is likely to leave you surprised, and maybe a bit bewildered.

Jason Lee, Henger Rast MortgageFor example:

Myth: Lenders have stopped lending.

Fact: Lenders are lending, and they have some very good loans available, depending on your situation.

Clearing up the misconceptions is why we decided to catch up with Jason Lee, a Mortgage Banker with Henger Rast Mortgage in Birmingham.

In our latest netcast, we talk with Jason about why what you may be hearing on the news doesn’t match up with what’s happening in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. market.

Click the player just below…and then get moving on buying!

…or click here if you’d like to download and listen to this interview on your personal listening device.

Want to ask Jason a question about getting prequalified? Call him at 205-271-1210, or click here to send an e-mail…


Alabaster, Helena Home Sales Up In March

More folks want homes!

The number of properties sold in Alabaster and Helena rose sharply in March, compared to February, according to the Birmingham Multiple Listing System. In Helena, March sales were double those for February:

Helena, Alabama, home sales update

Meanwhile, home sales in the Alabaster, Maylene and Saginaw areas were up sharply during March, as well.

Alabaster, Alabama, home sales update

Why the big rise in sales?

  • Buyers are realizing that very little time remains before the end of the First Time Buyer’s Tax Credit (Contracts must be signed no later than April 30th);
  • Loan rates continue to be extremely attractive; and
  • A large inventory of homes remains available in Shelby County, with Sellers motivated to sell
  • Last but certainly not least, the return of spring has no doubt been a welcome change from the extended bitterly cold winter Alabamians had to endure. Most people found going out looking for homes—only to be blasted in the face by freezing wind—to be less than fun.

    For more reasons than one, we’re glad Spring is here!


    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


    Shelby County/Birmingham Area Home Sales Update

    Here’s a look at how homes have been selling in the Shelby Co./Birmingham area during the past few months, courtesy of the Birmingham MLS:

    Stats - SALES - JUN-SEP 2009

    Stats - SALES - JUN-SEP 2009

    Stats - DOM - JUN-SEP 2009David