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Huntsville, Alabama Real Estate Remains On Target Despite Nationwide Decline

Recent announcements from the Fed regarding a stall on short-term interest rates came as no surprise to most. Five and one quarter percent is where the interest rate has remained since last June. With an eye toward inflation, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke recites a familiar statement blaming slowed growth partially on the “substantial cooling of the housing market.”

While housing may be cool in other areas, nothing could be farther from the truth in the Huntsville, Alabama real estate market. In fact, as the rest of the country has suffered a decline of 19% in housing starts, Huntsville’s real estate sales have remained stable.

The number of properties sold in November 2006 was down by only 54 homes compared to November 2005. The market remains strong and year-end figures should be excellent according to industry experts.

Growth In Many Areas

One reason for the growth in Huntsville’s real estate market is the tremendous growth this city has experienced in other areas over the last 10-years. BizJournals.com recently echoed what had been stated repeatedly by others when it named Huntsville, Alabama as Number One on its Top 10 Hotspots list. The award was based on Huntsville’s blend of comfortable lifestyle, warm weather, population and other factors.

Expansion in the area’s high-tech business base continues, which contributes to stronger economic growth in both the business and private sectors. This accounts, in part, for stability and increased development in the Huntsville real estate market as well. Other factors that drive growth include:

·A wide array of professional and management positions available

·Favorable decisions with regard to base realignment and closings (BRAC)

·Expectancy of large population growth over the next three- to four-years due to BRAC

·High concentration of college-educated adults

·A rise in per capita income levels above 20% in the past six-years

No Bursting of Bubbles

While housing bubbles in other cities such as Phoenix, Arizona have burst, investors in Huntsville currently stand little chance of facing diverse conditions. With a steady stream of homes moving in and out of the real estate listings, there is a better chance to sell more quickly in this area than in some others that have stalled.

Huntsville, Alabama is a thriving city with projected land development of 38% by 2010. Considering that the population of this area has doubled over the past 20-years, this is obviously not a fluke. Whether you are an investor or homeowner, Huntsville can deliver promising job opportunities, first-rate education, affordable costs of living and a stable real estate marketplace.

Mike Manosky has over 15-years experience in Huntsville, Alabama real estate. If you're thinking of moving to Huntsville, real estate listings that match your criteria can be sent to you immediately. Contact Mike today to get started. http://www.movetohuntsville.com. © 2006, All Rights Reserved


 

How's our housing? Huntsville market still strong, bucking national trend

Monday, December 10 2007 @ 10:08 AM Etc/GMT HUNTSVILLE custom home builder Jim Neighbors says that five years ago in HUNTSVILLE a builder wouldn't dream of building a half-million dollar spec home, but today there are plenty of them around.

While much of the country has been battered by falling home prices, rising foreclosures, and suddenly lean times for home builders, Madison County had 2,588 single-family home starts in the first nine months of 2006 and 2,329 more through the first nine months of 2007, according to the HUNTSVILLE Madison County Builders Association.

"It's in all price ranges," said Neighbors, owner of Old Towne Homebuilders and president of the local builders association. "The difference we're seeing today in HUNTSVILLE, is that the price ranges of new homes five years ago, was probably $80,000 to $400,000. Now that range is from $125,000 to $2 million.

"What you've seen over the last five years is tremendous growth on the upper end of the market."

Kristy L. Smith, retail mortgage production manager for Regions Bank in HUNTSVILLE, said the lending industry is continuing to work through problems spurred by the subprime mortgage crisis. That means changes in pricing and loan parameters, she said, but HUNTSVILLE's activity level remains high.

"The overall economy in HUNTSVILLE is good," she said. "Typically during this time of year we experience a normal slowdown. However; we have seen an increase in activity and applications over the last few weeks."

The HUNTSVILLE Area Association of REALtors reports the average price for a home in HUNTSVILLE was $189,872 in 2006. Through November, it is an estimated $196,549. Those figures don't include another roughly 500 generally higher-end homes a year sold by builders not included the REALtors' multiple listing service.

On and on

The expected move of some 4,700 jobs directly related to the base REALignment process over the next four years has helped spur the building boom, but the area's very solid economy is the larger explanation, said Betty Hughes, president of the REALtors association.

"I've not seen an area that has not seen growth," Hughes said.

But with the national news daily reporting plummeting home prices, Hughes said she is spending more and more time counseling people that HUNTSVILLE's market is nothing like trouble spots in Florida and California and the upper Midwest.

Doris Nurenberg, who recently moved here to serve as the association executive for the board of REALtors, said her home near Flint, Mich., was worth $800,000, now she's faced with a market value of $500,000 as she tries to sell it.

"HUNTSVILLE has not fallen into the same traps the rest of the country has fallen into," she said.

That national trend may be felt in HUNTSVILLE in one respect, Hughes said: Homeowners in places like Virginia, who could move here as part of the BRAC process, are currently facing a difficult market as they try to sell their homes.

The number of days on the market in HUNTSVILLE, from listing to sale, is currently up to around 99 days for the past two months. Hughes said buyers have become more cautious in the face of the national news. This summer, a traditionally busier time, the days on market according to the HUNTSVILLE MLS was 78 days in June, 69 days in July and 83 days in August.

Hughes said the foreclosure rate here is about .25, less than 1 percent, a number in sharp contrast to current national delinquency rates of 5.59 percent, the highest figure in the U.S. in 20 years.

Jennifer Brittain, senior vice president of Servis 1st Bank's mortgage lending division, said the HUNTSVILLE market continues to grow, while in most of Alabama, things have flattened.

Consumers with good credit are paying a price for the overall mortgage woes, she said. For example, a couple with an good credit score wanting to borrow $500,000 is going to pay another 1.5 percent more - on a so-called jumbo loan - than they would have paid even six months ago. The rate today, with that risk premium required by investors is around 7 percent, Brittain estimated.

Neighbors said a change that he's seen in homebuyers is a greater willingness to spend more money per square foot to ensure the home has more amenities.

"We were such a price per square foot driven market, people would be buying a 6,000-square-foot home, so they could get subzeros (freezers) and outdoor kitchens and other luxuries and the math works," he said. "Now people are sick of big houses, they see 3,000 (square) foot house gives them all the living space they need."

He said in the custom home market the going price per square foot five years ago was between $90 to $110 per square foot. Today in the upper end of the market, people are choosing to pay between $180 and $240 per square foot.

All the building here raises questions about the risks of overbuilding, which would mean hard times for builders and a depressed REAL ESTATE market.

Hughes said the steady demand for homes, the influx of BRAC jobs and HUNTSVILLE's growing reputation as an island of stability suggest that it would take a disaster for the market here to bottom out.

Neighbors said builders have kept pace with the steady growth here and inventories - number of houses sold in a month divided by the number available - has risen slightly this year, but is not close to an unwelcome surplus.

"I think we're well away from that," Neighbors said. "What I've tried to tell builders I'm in touch with is patience, patience, we can't overbuild. Our inventory typically runs two to three months on the ground. We started getting that number up to six or seven months, but that's a figure people across country would be begging for."

Neighbors said an inventory that would take 12 months to sell the homes available would start to raise concerns.

"If it starts getting to 12 months, 15, 24 months, everybody's going to get nervous," he said. "If we get out too soon, it will hurt our business. If we're too far behind, prices go up and that hurts the consumer."

The National Association of REALtors estimates the current national average for inventory of homes is around 10.8 months and climbing.

By BRIAN LAWSON Times Business Writer brian.lawson@htimes.com


What Real Estate Crisis

Saturday, November 24 2007 @ 07:59 AM Etc/GMT Lately, when I tell people I meet that I work in REAL ESTATE, they respond with a sympathetic look and mutter some kind of apology for the current state of the market.

People of HUNTSVILLE, this has got to stop.

Everyone has been brainwashed by fear-provoking media headlines about REAL ESTATE: "Home Prices Crash!", "Overall Sales Take Devastating Downturn!", "REAL ESTATE Recession!". Even if the REAL ESTATE market was truly in as tragic a condition as people think, we're all forgetting one thing - HUNTSVILLE is unique.

The city of HUNTSVILLE seems to be the exception to the rule in many cases, and the REAL ESTATE market is no different. I'd like to take a moment to dispel a few REAL ESTATE myths to prevent a dangerous misconception from becoming a REALity.

Myth #1: Home prices are drastically down, causing sellers to lose their equity.

REALity: According to the North Alabama Multiple Listing Service (NALMLS), average home prices in the HUNTSVILLE/Madison area have increased over five percent since 2006, and almost 20 percent since 2004.

Myth #2: The overall number of home sales has decreased.

REALity: From 2006 to 2007, the number of home sales has indeed dropped. By two percent. This number is hardly alarming when compared with the overall picture of home sales since 2004, which has increased by 18.5 percent.

Myth #3: The HUNTSVILLE REAL ESTATE market is down, paralleling national REAL ESTATE trends.

REALity: The dollar volume of sold listings has increased four percent from 2006, 17 percent since 2005, and 45.4 percent from 2004. This is not exactly the recession that everyone fears it to be.

Now that we've unveiled the truth about the HUNTSVILLE REAL ESTATE market, let's take a moment to address one other area of popular concern: the subprime mortgage market.

The "collapse" of subprime lending has garnered much attention, making potential buyers question their ability to qualify for a home loan. What kind of person generally applies for a subprime loan? The kind that cannot qualify for a conventional loan. Oftentimes, those applying for subprime loans have credit scores below 620. How does one get a credit score below 620? One easy way is to fall into debt. If you fall into, or are already in debt, how easy is it to make your extremely high interest payments on your subprime loan?

Subprime lenders made their money by offering high interest loans to people who traditionally could not qualify for homeownership, often based on the previously stated fact that they - that's right - don't pay their bills. What made anyone think that for these people, their mortgage would be different? This is a game of risk for those lenders, which eventually burned them. The instability of the subprime concept should have been a heads-up to someone this game couldn't go on forever.

So, what percentage of mortgages does the subprime market comprise? According to Freddie Mac, about five percent. The supposed trouble is that so many of these subprime borrowers are defaulting on their mortgages, right? What percentage of these borrowers are delinquent? In the second quarter of this year, the delinquency rate was 14.82 percent. So in REALity, there is a "crisis" among 14.82 percent of five percent of borrowers. This comes out to less than one percent of all homeowners. 0.7 percent to be exact. A greater percentage of the population voted for Dennis Kucinich in the 2004 Presidential primary - now that's a crisis.

So what does all this mean for HUNTSVILLE? It depends. If everyone continues to run around in Chicken Little-fashion, bemoaning the fall of the sky, this lunacy will indeed materialize into a lack of buyer confidence, potentially triggering an actual decline in the REAL ESTATE market. How do we stop this? Pick up the phone right now and call five people to tell them the great news about HUNTSVILLE REAL ESTATE.

Let's do the numbers...

U.S. Census Bureau

Homeownership

The homeownership rate in the third quarter 2007 (68.2 percent) was lower than the third quarter 2006 rate (69.0 percent). The homeownership rates in the Midwest and West were lower a year ago, while rates in the other regions did not change significantly.

New Home Sales

Sales of new one-family houses in September 2007 were 4.8% above August 2007 figures.

Office of Federal Housing and Enterprise Oversight

Housing Price Index - Fourth Quarter Appreciation

According to the Office of Federal Housing and Enterprise Oversight, housing prices in Alabama will appreciate 6.6% in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared with housing prices in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Other state numbers are included below:

Georgia: 4.7%

Tennessee: 6.6%

Florida: 1.3%

South Carolina: 6.3%

Freddie Mac

Primary Mortgage Market Summary

30-yr 15-yr Avg. Rate 6.26% 5.91% Fees/Pts 0.4 0.4

Standard & Poor's

Case-Shiller Home Price Index

Regardless of the media hype about the drop in home prices, the REAL value of a single-family house in the United States has more than doubled in 10 years, according to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Index. In fact, in some markets, it has tripled.

Moody's Economy.com Survey of Business Confidence

Behind the numbers

· U.S. business confidence remains weak and fragile. Sentiment has stabilized since falling sharply during this summer's subprime financial shock, but it has yet to meaningfully revive.

· Conditions elsewhere across the globe are measurably better. Asian businesses are consistently the most upbeat, with sentiment close to its pre-shock level.

· REAL ESTATE firms are the most pessimistic. Financial service firms have turned somewhat more upbeat in recent weeks, but heretofore optimistic manufacturers are turning less so. High-tech firms are the most positive.

In the News...

U.S. Inflation Worries Seem Overblown

Last week's GDP report contained good news on inflation, with the headline consumer price deflator rising just 1.7% at an annual rate, down from 4.3% in the second quarter. Falling energy prices were a major contributor to this weaker trend, but this is only part of the story. The core PCE price deflator, which strips out volatile food and energy components and is the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, rose by less than 2% both on a quarterly annualized basis and year over year, the first such occurrence since 2003.

Banks Make it More Difficult to Get a Loan

According to the latest Senior Loan Officer Survey, banks are tightening lending standards on prime, nontraditional and subprime residential mortgages.

Business Week

Southern Comfort in REAL ESTATE Investing

For undervalued, affordable housing with a good outlook for home-price and job-market growth, there's one region of the country that stands out: the South. Metro areas are all expected to see home prices increase more than 5% over the next two years -- a big figure in a country where home prices are expected to trend downward overall.

"If you exclude Florida, the one area of the country that has a good outlook with respect to affordable housing and job growth is REALy the South," says Stiff. "There are other places in the country that have one of those things, but not both." The Midwest, for instance, has affordable housing but increasing unemployment, while the West has job growth but very expensive housing.

It's true -- you can find bargains in any area of the U.S. these days, though it helps to have a starting point. "Right now, across the country, this is a good time to buy," says Gillespie, citing the usual three incentives: lower prices, high inventory and relatively low mortgage rates.

Amanda Howard is an Associate Broker for The Amanda Howard Team and Weichert REALtors in the Tennessee Valley Area. Amanda also hosts a one hour REAL ESTATE program on WVNN. Find out more about Amanda Howard at http://www.ringtheteam.com/radio_show.asp 


Website a must for Huntsville Alabama real estate agents

Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 04:20 PM Etc/GMT

With over 1500 REALtors in the HUNTSVILLE and surrounding areas, combine with the fact that Home For Sale By Owners type offshoots are plugging in quickly into the fray, competition for selling and buying homes has increased steadily and the traditional ways of buying and selling properties, such as newspaper advertising, are playing a dwindling part.

Despite increasing foreclosures, and a REAL ESTATE market that is characterized by more burst than boom, HUNTSVILLE Alabama REAL ESTATE market seems to be immune from the turbulences experienced by other areas in the County. With BRAC expecting to generate over 10,000 jobs in the not to distant future and HUNTSVILLE being home of the second largest research park in the country, homes and subdivisions in the North Alabama area are developing at a dizzying speed.

This, however, doesn’t organically translate to an automatic boon for REAL ESTATE agents. With over 1500 REALtors in the HUNTSVILLE and surrounding areas, combine with the fact that Home For Sale By Owners type offshoots are plugging in quickly into the fray, competition for selling and buying homes has increased steadily and the traditional ways of buying and selling properties, such as newspaper advertising, are playing a dwindling part.

Having a REAL ESTATE website that works is the way forward. According to a report from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice in 2006 80 percent of home buyers used the Internet while searching for a home. Home buyers are not only searching for homes but are pin-pointing schools, hospital, crime rates and other issues that affect their home buying decision.

That is why REALtors need to hire professional REAL ESTATE web designers that are familiar with the REAL ESTATE industry. HUNTSVILLE PR, a web design company focusing on helping small business to market online, particular in the REAL ESTATE market in HUNTSVILLE, is one such company that understands the needs of REALtors.

The company focuses on building professional websites that are optimized for Google and other search engines, link building in REAL ESTATE directories, articles and press releases submission and an overall marketing strategy to generate leads and improve customer relations.

In this dynamic market just having a REAL ESTATE website could never be enough. In recent year’s competition online has increased to a heightened pitch with REAL ESTATE directories such as REAL.com and national home for sale players such as home.com playing an increasing part.

REALtors should avoid web designers who lack the knowledge to be of proper service or lack the empathy to respond promptly to REALtors’ questions. It is better to hire a professional who knows how to promote your business online and to increase your website ranking than to build a website that no one will find or lacks the attractiveness that portray a professional posture. HUNTSVILLE REALtors should contact professional companies such as HUNTSVILLE PR to get the job done right the first time.

Contact HUNTSVILLEPR Today Huntsville web design services  or 256-361-9080

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