Blog Archives

Helping Shelby Co. People In Need

You can have fun and help people at the same time.

That’s what the Oak Mountain Real Estate Network’s annual Christmas Auction, held November 18th in Pelham, is all about:

Oak Mountain Real Estate Network Auction
Despite a tough economy, we had a lot of Agents and people working in affiliated fields participate. When it was all over, the Network had raised nearly $2,200. The Network supports two very worthy causes here in Shelby County: SafeHouse and Family Connection.

Special thanks to Auctioneers Kelly Bishop-Hicks with Allstate Insurance and John Holliman of the Holliman Law Firm, who did a great job!


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 Co. Area

As we start off May, 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.): 518
Helena & Pelham area (Jefferson Co.): 58
North Shelby/Hoover area (Shelby Co.): 776
Chelsea: 279
Altadena/Cahaba Heights area: 72
Liberty Park/Vestavia area: 492
Alabaster, Maylene & Saginaw area:  382

Calera, Montevallo & Wilton area:  346
Columbiana, Westover & Wilsonville area: 93

Number of homes with 3 or more bedrooms for sale:

Alabaster/Maylene/Saginaw area: 362
Chelsea area:  24

Number of homes with swimming pool for sale:

Alabaster/Maylene/Saginaw area: 116
Chelsea:  24

Bottom line:  There continues to be an excellent supply of homes in a wide variety of styles and price ranges.  The good time to buy rolls on!


“With The Full Picture, 2009 May Be Bright”

News Headlines

If you were an extra terrestrial planning a visit to Earth and tuned in some of the news reports before arriving, what would you think about our society, given headlines like the ones above?

I might be tempted to keep on moving, and find another place to visit, where life doesn’t appear to be so gloomy.

As we start 2009, we have some big choices to make. How prosperous do we want the year to be? But more important … how hard are we willing to actually work to achieve that goal? Or will we choose instead to live more in accordance with the negative portrayals and not even try to make it a positive year?

I find it interesting to see the contrasts in views about our economy right now. Quite a few of the people we know and work with here in the Shelby county/Birmingham area are remarkably upbeat. That optimism still manages to shine through, despite a challenging 2008 and constant pessimistic predictions so prevalent in the media about the real estate, financial markets and world markets in general.

By the way … I didn’t make up the headlines above. I copied them from various websites during the last few months of 2008, as part of a small (and very unscientific) research project of sorts to see if the majority of stories carried any particular overall tone or slant. Does a prevailing tone come through to you? There is to me. Nope, I’m not ranting about wanting more positive or ‘happy’ news. That’s not what we need. What does bother me is that so many people in the mainstream don’t seem to be getting a very balanced perspective about such a broad array of subjects, based on what they read and hear. If they were, I don’t think we would have had people asking us questions recently like:

  • “Has the real estate business just rolled over and died?”
  • “Is it true that banks are selling foreclosed $150,000 homes for $65,000 in Shelby county?”
  • Colleen and I have wound up explaining—more than once—that, contrary to popular belief, the home sales market in Shelby county and Birmingham is still pretty healthy, despite downward trends in the area during 2008. And I think back to a few days before Christmas when The Birmingham News ran a story about a “silent” mall where holiday shoppers were a scarcity. Later that afternoon, as we passed the Galleria on I-459, we observed traffic backed up on the flyer-over ramp onto the interstate, waiting to pour in to the Galleria and Patton Creek. The newspaper wasn’t lying. But I wasn’t getting the full picture, either.

    Want to keep balance in your perspective? My suggestion is to look around and decide for yourself. There are positive developments that affect the way we live and do business, and it’s not just happy talk. But you don’t hear as much about them. I’ve heard more than one person ask recently, “who would have ever thought gas would be this cheap?” While it’s anyone’s guess as to how long oil prices will stay where they are, there is still the inescapable fact that our national economy and virtually every business and industry, large or small, are benefiting in many ways.

    So, what kind of year will 2009 turn out to be? When you listen to the talking heads and so-called ‘experts’ giving their predictions, remember that some of them just flat get it wrong sometimes. Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve, maintained in 2002 and into the following year that there was not going to be a housing market bubble. He later admitted he was wrong. Part of getting the big picture, I think, means listening to those people, but staying careful not to put 100% confidence in everything they say.

    I think we all have a lot more ability than we typically realize to control our financial and economic prosperity and destiny, rather than just citing bad or good luck, as so many often tend to do. But we’ll only prosper by having the full picture in front of us to start with. And then there’s the work involved to make it happen. Here’s hoping your 2009 really is a prosperous one.


    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


    Mid-Year Shelby Co. Homes Sales Update

    New statistics for the Birmingham and Shelby Co. real estate market show a drop in sales and prices, but there are some positive signs showing, too.

    According to the Birmingham Area Multiple Listing Service, Inc., sales in June, 2008 totaled 1,253; that’s 35% below the 1,929 sales recorded in June, 2007. For the first half of 2008, 6,702 sales were recorded. That’s 28% below the 9,317 total sales reported for the same period in 2007.

    The average price of a home in June, 2008, stood at $196,504, which is about 5.4% below the June, 2007, average price of $208,767.

    The numbers hold good news for sellers. June, 2008 inventory stood at 12,580, which is 714 fewer listings than the 13,294 homes for sale during June, 2007.

    Good time to buy a home?  You bet...

    Good time to buy a home? You bet...

    Here are some more numbers we consider encouraging. While the average price of homes for sale from January through June of 2008 ($194,000) did drop compared to the same period a year earlier, the drop is pretty slim: Only about 2%. In other real estate markets, the drops in average price have been quite a bit higher, so, once again, the swings in the Birmingham/Shelby Co. markets are not nearly as extreme.

    What about foreclosures in our area? Those dropped by 17% during June, 2008, compared to a year earlier, according to the MLS. Out of a list of 100 major U.S. cities surveyed for foreclosure activity, Birmingham rated 97th.

    Every business has up and down cycles, and real estate is certainly no different. While stories about ‘the dire real estate market’ continue to make the news, you might be wondering if you should forget trying to buy a home. We would suggest that just the opposite is true. Given very good interest rates that continue to be available and a large, diverse inventory to choose from, this is an excellent time to buy.