We’re always watching the housing market, so last week when we heard that the number of home listings in the Greater Birmingham area was at the highest since January 2021, we had to find out more. We reached out to Anna-Marie Ellison, Birmingham Association of REALTORS President, and Stuart Norton, Associate Director, Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) at The University of Alabama. Here’s what we learned.
Bham Now: We heard from WBRC 6 that the number of homes for sale is at its highest volume since January 2021—does this match what you are seeing locally?
Ellison: “Home sales are higher than they were in January 2021, but they’re still not back to pre-pandemic normal market numbers.”
Norton: “The graph above shows how inventory gradually declined from July 2021 to January 2022 but has since gradually increased to almost 4,000 listings.”
Norton: “This graph shows how inventory is up from one year ago but is still relatively tight, as there were almost 8,000 listings back in July 2015.”
Bham Now: What do you think is behind these numbers?
Ellison: “Usually, in July and August, the market takes a dip, because people are going on vacation, school is out and they’re not thinking about buying. Usually buyers pick back up in September, October and November.
Also, the news about a month ago was about raising interest rates. Everyone paused to say ‘what does that mean for me?’
We still have a high number of people looking for homes. They took a minute to reset and see what their mortgage rate and house payment would be. Then they got right back to buying and looking at houses again.”
Bham Now: What does someone who is thinking of listing their home in Birmingham need to know?
Ellison: “17 days on market is the average for Jefferson County, according to the Greater Alabama MLS, which is still insanely low. If you listed your house today, you’d have it sold in 2.5 weeks.
It’s still a great time to sell your house. According to the Greater Alabama MLS, we’ve got about 2.6 months of inventory on the market. That means if nobody else were to list a house today, everything in our inventory would be sold in just over two and a half months, which is crazy.
The Fed considers six months of inventory to be a balanced market. We’re still way below where we need to be for a balanced market, which means it’s not a seller’s market or a buyer’s market.
You’ll still have lots of showings. You’ll still have buyers out there looking for houses. You might just get a handful of offers versus the 20 we were seeing earlier in the pandemic, but that still allows you to be competitive and sell your house for fair market value.”
Bham Now: Redfin said that the average US home sold below its asking price for the first time since March 2021. Are you seeing this locally?
Ellison: “In July, we still had a 101.65 list:sell ratio, according to the Greater Alabama MLS, and it’s too early for August numbers. This means our average sale, as of July, continued to be slightly over asking price.”
Bham Now: What does this news mean for Birmingham area buyers?
Ellison: “If you’re a buyer looking right now, you’re not going to have as much competition as we’ve seen in the past. You’ll still be in a competitive situation, but it won’t be as intense as it was.”
Bottom line: while there are more houses on the market than there have been for a long time, it’s still a great time to sell, according to the Birmingham Association of REALTORS.
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