Monthly Archives: December 2011

Alabama, Birmingham, and Huntsville Real Estate Market in 2012-Forecast

While the Real Estate market adage is “Location, Location, Location” I submit that based on this study that maybe it should be “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Over the years, I have often been asked to predict what will happen in the future in the residential real estate market. I have generally resisted providing answers to this, pointing out that the current data which I provide gives some pretty strong hints.

However, in doing some consulting work I have come across some useful correlative data that holds promise for quantifiable, accurate, projections of future real estate sales.

While it is important to keep the adage “correlation is not causation” in mind, correlations can be useful and dependable if they pass the “common sense” test.

I have found that for a given area, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Unemployment Statistics can reasonably and reliably predict future sales. This makes sense in that buying homes is not a spur of the moment decision, but rather influenced by consumer future expectation, which is nicely captured and influenced by the unemployment rate.

To date, I have tested this concept in multiple markets with similar results. I expect that additional implementation will show similar predictive capabilities.

Since both the real estate and labor market have large seasonal swings, I chose to use the January unemployment rate to project the entire year’s transaction volume. I then spread the volume over the individual months, based on the historical percentage of sales that a given month has in a year. The percentage sales in a month holds steady in “normal” years. I have currently used 2004-2011 to arrive at the percentage sales per month. I suspect that some inaccuracy comes from including 2010 when we had the really abnormal melt-down followed by the extraordinary tax credit. Rather than continue adjusting numbers, I have chosen to publish these preliminary findings in the hope that others can help with the methodology.

Summarizing the findings:

How Unemployment correlates to Real Estate Sales from 2004-2010:
Correlation rate:
Statewide 80%
Birmingham 83%
Huntsville 73%

I have also tested a few other areas, outside Alabama, with similar results.

Interestingly, when I included years before 2004, correlation rates went down. I suspect that this is due to the way financing changed in 2004. I also suspect that years before 2004 will show strong correlation, and that years post 2004 will continue to show even more correlation just not across the 2004 “divide”. This remains for more research. By the way I attempted to find some correlation based on mortgage interest rates. In short, there was none. There may be some very short term impact from interest rates, but nothing close to the jobs market.

Based on the initial correlations a linear regression can predict sales for 2011, and preliminarily for 2012 (based on the estimated January 2012 unemployment rate) for the same three markets.

Market 2010 (actual) 2011 (proj) 2012 (proj)
Statewide 36,234 37,407 39,429
Birmingham 12,235 12,736 13,430
Huntsville 8,543 8,321 8,507

The statewide totals are via the Alabama Center for Real Estate

The monthly projected results compared to the actuals for 2011for Birmingham are as follows:

2011 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
proj 755 877 1135 1137 1239 1314 1180 1191 1090 933 914
actual 683 773 1072 1022 1106 1255 1237 1224 1145 983 944
%error -10.5 -14.9 -5.9 -11 -12 -4 4 2.7 4.8 5 3
Cumulative error 2.9

As you can see this is quite encouraging. The cumulative error for 2011 projections is under 3% for 2011. I believe that excluding 2010, to calculate the monthly changes, due to the tax credit impact will improve the monthly accuracy.

Why might this be useful?

If the results during the year do not unfold as projected one should be looking for the reasons such as the tax stimulus or similar government action. It is also likely that other impacts and shocks to consumer expectations will cause the market to react in ways that are not accounted for in the projections. One can think of major disasters such as the coastal oil spill and multiple weather events. I have not yet tried to see how the coastal markets can be projected.

Posted in Alabama, Annual comments, Forecast, Huntsville, Jefferson County, real estate | Tagged , , , , | 1 Reply

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Huntsville November Real Estate Sales

Huntsville/North Alabama Area MLS Observations: Real Estate Market November 2011

November sales declined 3% to $98,612,691 vs. October at $101,712,163. This was 1% better than last year at $97,179,181 (even with the tax incentive expiration). The twelve month moving average line on the total dollar sales chart is still poking up a bit.

Total unit sales decreased to 639 in November vs. 651 in October a decrease of 12.

New sales increased to138 homes this month vs. 125 last month, an increase of 13.

Used sales decreased to 501 homes this month vs. 526 last month, a decrease of 25 (Sect E p.3).

Used inventory levels remain high this month at 13 months (see the chart Sect C p.1), with the situation particularly challenged in the higher price ranges. Used homes over $100,000 are still over 13 months of inventory and over $400,000 have two or more years of inventory.

New home absorption is 9 months of inventory overall, (with last month at 11 months), (E-1). The New Home inventory level in the $300,000-$500,000 is approximately 6 months (not bad).

There continue to be a large number ofhousingpermits issued in Huntsville city, given the market conditions. October decreased to 79 (imputed by the Census dept) vs. 87 in September (chart on the web site).

Total Active listings decreased this month to 8,510 compared to last month’s 9,338, which is below last year at this time at 9,329 (Sect A p.4 and Sect E p.3). Active New listings decreased from 1,529 last month to 1,285 in November, down 244. (Sect E p.3). Active Used listings decreased from 7,809 last month to 7,225 this month, down 584 and below last year’s amount at this time of 7,829. (Sect E p.3).

Average Days on Market for Sold New homes was 142 vs.160 days last month, with Used at 149 in November compared with 164 in October (Sect A p.18). Days on Market at or below 6 months, while the inventory numbers are way higher, indicates well priced homes are selling. Sellers, including bank owners, are not adjusting to the new price reality which contributes to inventory build-up.

Average sales price for Sold New homes was $212,256 vs. $231,167 last month. (Sect A p.2)

Average sales price for Sold Used homes was $138,366 vs. $138,434 last month. (Sect A p.2)

The Average price lines which were on a upwards slope for a while, turned down particularly for Used Homes. Prices for individual properties remain under pressure.

We have been doing some work to see how well we can predict overall residential sales as much as a year or two in advance and have some very encouraging results. Call me if you would like to discuss.

TWB 12/10/11

Posted in Absorption, Building Permit, Huntsville, Monthly comments, North Alabama, real estate | Tagged , , , , | Leave a reply

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Huntsville November Real Estate Sales

Huntsville/North Alabama Area MLS Observations: Real Estate Market November 2011

November sales declined 3% to $98,612,691 vs. October at $101,712,163. This was 1% better than last year at $97,179,181 (even with the tax incentive expiration). The twelve month moving average line on the total dollar sales chart is still poking up a bit.

Total unit sales decreased to 639 in November vs. 651 in October a decrease of 12.

New sales increased to138 homes this month vs. 125 last month, an increase of 13.

Used sales decreased to 501 homes this month vs. 526 last month, a decrease of 25 (Sect E p.3).

Used inventory levels remain high this month at 13 months (see the chart Sect C p.1), with the situation particularly challenged in the higher price ranges. Used homes over $100,000 are still over 13 months of inventory and over $400,000 have two or more years of inventory.

New home absorption is 9 months of inventory overall, (with last month at 11 months), (E-1). The New Home inventory level in the $300,000-$500,000 is approximately 6 months (not bad).

There continue to be a large number ofhousingpermits issued in Huntsville city, given the market conditions. October decreased to 79 (imputed by the Census dept) vs. 87 in September (chart on the web site).

Total Active listings decreased this month to 8,510 compared to last month’s 9,338, which is below last year at this time at 9,329 (Sect A p.4 and Sect E p.3). Active New listings decreased from 1,529 last month to 1,285 in November, down 244. (Sect E p.3). Active Used listings decreased from 7,809 last month to 7,225 this month, down 584 and below last year’s amount at this time of 7,829. (Sect E p.3).

Average Days on Market for Sold New homes was 142 vs.160 days last month, with Used at 149 in November compared with 164 in October (Sect A p.18). Days on Market at or below 6 months, while the inventory numbers are way higher, indicates well priced homes are selling. Sellers, including bank owners, are not adjusting to the new price reality which contributes to inventory build-up.

Average sales price for Sold New homes was $212,256 vs. $231,167 last month. (Sect A p.2)

Average sales price for Sold Used homes was $138,366 vs. $138,434 last month. (Sect A p.2)

The Average price lines which were on a upwards slope for a while, turned down particularly for Used Homes. Prices for individual properties remain under pressure.

We have been doing some work to see how well we can predict overall residential sales as much as a year or two in advance and have some very encouraging results. Call me if you would like to discuss.

TWB 12/10/11

Posted in Absorption, Building Permit, Huntsville, Monthly comments, North Alabama, real estate | Tagged , , , , | Leave a reply

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November Alabama Coast Real Estate- Slow Steady Improvement

Baldwin County & Alabama Coastal MLS*: Observations for the Month of November 2011

Dollar sales this month decreased 18% to $57,418,263 from October’s $69,628,961. This is 10% above November last year at $52,326,531 when sales were impacted by the oil spill and the tax credit expiration (Sect A p.2). The 12 month moving average line of sales is quite clearly on an upwards tilt as mentioned last month. While inventories are high, unit sales have recovered to normal levels. Inventories in fact have declined quite dramatically. Dollar sales still lag reflecting fewer high end sales and lower prices. This situation is starting to reverse, with more high end homes selling. Still, it is unlikely that prices will increase for a while.

On a unit basis, sales of all houses declined 7% to 315 this month vs. 339 last month, which is 15% up from last year’s 273.

Used Home sales declined 5% to 296 this month vs. 311 last month, which is up 19% from last year’s 249 (Sect A p.18). New Home sales were 19 this month vs 28 last month. Low sales of New homes reflects intense competition from existing, and the shutdown of new construction.

New listings for New homes decreased to 56 from 60 in October. Used houses New listings decreased to 499 from 565 in October with net inventory down.

The absolute number of Used Active homes on the market, which had a slight peak mid-summer of ’09, has once again been improving. In November, there were 3,663 Active Used homes, a reduction from 4,018 in October. The New home market, which peaked in November 2006 at 2,144 Active, now sits at 342.

The Absorption rate for New homes was 13 months of inventory for November vs. 14 in October. The Absorption rate for Used homes was 11 months of inventory for November vs. 12 in October. Over the last four years the drop in months of inventory for Used homes has been steady and impressive from 25 months plus in November 2008 to 11 months this November.

Average sales price for all homes has been stable for the past year. For New units, prices increased to $219,064 from $177,908 last month. (Sect A p.14). Average Used home prices decreased to $179,919 from $207,870 in October.

Average Days On Market for New Sold properties in November was 174 this month vs. 291 last month. Days On Market for Used was 190 this month vs. 182 last month.

TWB 12/10/2011

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“Flip This House”: Investor Speculation and the Housing Bubble – Liberty Street Economics

I found this article interesting in that it quantified what I have said before relative to how much of an impact residential investors had on the market. I suggest that you read the article on the site to see all the charts.

From: http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2011/12/flip-this-house-investor-speculation-and-the-housing-bubble.html

The charts reveal some astonishing facts. At the peak of the boom in 2006, over a third of all U.S. home purchase lending was made to people who already owned at least one house. In the four states with the most pronounced housing cycles, the investor share was nearly half–45 percent. Investor shares roughly doubled between 2000 and 2006. While some of these loans went to borrowers with “just” two homes, the increase in percentage terms is largest among those owning three or more properties. In 2006, Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada investors owning three or more properties were responsible for nearly 20 percent of originations, almost triple their share in 2000.

via “Flip This House”: Investor Speculation and the Housing Bubble – Liberty Street Economics.

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Housing and Economic Forecast Points to Rising Activity

Home sales are expected to stay on an uptrend through 2012, although the performance will be uneven with mortgage constraints weighing on the market, according to experts at a residential real estate forum today at the REALTORS