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Trends in Landscaping Design to Try This Year

The following is a guest post by Cat Murphy.

Whether you’re trying to sell your home or update the one you recently bought, there are plenty of ways to modernize your landscaping and add a touch of refreshing curb appeal. The latest trends include homeowners stepping outside the box with landscaping designs that have Mother Nature’s best interest at heart. Here’s a list of this years most up and coming popular trends.

Growing Produce

If you’re going to add plants to the garden, you might as well also grow something to eat. Planting edible options, like fruits and vegetables, is a great way to add interest and beauty to your landscaping that also offers plenty of health benefits. Growing food in your yard is a trending design that allows you and your guests to appreciate how food is grown. It’s also great for the environment and helps cut down on the weekly grocery budget. Choose fruits and vegetables that thrive in your community for an easier way to manage your garden.

Privacy

Speaking of privacy, you don’t have to install an ugly wooden fence. Plant a quick growing hedge or shrub to provide an extra barrier between your outdoor living space and your neighbors. Even a low growing shrub, like a boxwood, can create a semi-private feel to an area without hindering the view. Planting trees is another excellent way to add privacy and natural beauty to compliment a house.

Asymmetry

Shapes found in nature are rarely perfectly straight lines. Many homeowners now prefer the creativity of nature by reflecting curved or slanted lines in their landscaping. Slight curves on the outside edge of a garden bed and curved walkways are trending right now. These asymmetrical lines not only make your home more appealing, but they also create a softer overall look that embraces nature’s shapes. You can also include a free formed garden bed in the middle of a large lawn space that will add value to your home as well. Be sure to use a weed eater to properly trim all edges for the best look possible.

Xeriscaping

So you want a beautiful lawn and garden, but what if you don’t have time to keep it maintained? Xeriscaping is both a popular landscaping technique and design that incorporates plants acclimated to a specific region and decreases the amount of maintenance by using less turf. These plants are typically locally native plants that require little to no added water. They do well in the current climate conditions of the area and can be left alone for the most part.

Xeriscaping also encourages homeowners to replace lawn areas with non-organic mulching options, like stone, to create a truly unique look. While xeriscapes are more common in arid regions of the country, some homeowners use this type of landscaping in smaller portions of their yard that are either hard to access or have trouble growing other plants.

Adding any one of these landscaping techniques to your yard will help raise the overall curb appeal of your home. Consider changing a problem spot in the yard to a xeriscape or adding plants that provide nutritious food options. Creating privacy with quick growing plants as well as incorporating curved lines into your yard are other trends in landscaping design to try this year.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Baldwin County median home sales price up 9%

The Baldwin County median home sales price in January was $250,000. (iStock)

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors/Multiple Listing Service, Baldwin County residential sales totaled 357 units during January, down 8.7 percent from 391 sales in the same month a year earlier. January sales were down 20.7 percent compared to 450 sales in December. Results were 3.4 percent above the five-year January average of 345 sales. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all of Baldwin County’s housing data, click here.

Inventory: Total homes listed for sale in the Baldwin County area during January were 2,836 units, an increase of 5.1 percent from January 2018’s 2,698 units and a decrease of 13.6 percent from December 2018’s 3,282 units. January’s months of supply totaled 7.9 months, an increase of 15.1 percent when compared to January 2018’s 6.9 months of supply. January’s months of supply increased 8.9 percent from December 2018’s 7.3 months.

Pricing: The Baldwin County median sales price in January was $250,000, an increase of 8.9 percent from one year ago and an increase of 8 percent from the prior month. This direction is inconsistent with historical data (2014-18) indicating that the January median sales price on average decreases from December by 4.7 percent. The differing sample size (number of residential sales of comparative months) can contribute to statistical volatility, including pricing. ACRE recommends consulting with a local real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The average number of days on the market (DOM) for homes sold during January was 92 days, a decrease of 8.9 percent from 101 days in January 2018 and an increase of 2.2 percent from 90 days in December 2018.

Forecast: January sales were 69 units, or 16.2 percent, below the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 426 sales for the month, while actual sales were 357 units. ACRE forecast a total of 6,593 residential sales in the Baldwin County area for 2018, while there were 6,562 actual sales.

ACRE’s statewide perspective: After a strong 2018, statewide residential sales in January increased 1.1 percent year-over-year from 3,320 to 3,358 closed transactions. Home price appreciation in the state continued to climb as the median sales price in January increased 5.5 percent year-over-year from $143,152 to $151,015. Although nationwide inventory levels are trending upward, Alabama’s residential listings decreased 7.4 percent from one year ago. Low inventory levels were a significant factor contributing to rising sales prices throughout 2018. With low inventory levels, it is not surprising to see homes selling more quickly than in previous years. Homes selling in Alabama during January spent an average of 106 days on the market, an improvement of 10 days from 2018.

NAR’s national perspective: During January, total existing-home sales nationwide declined 9 percent from approximately 313,000 closed transactions one year ago to 285,000 currently. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said, “Existing home sales in January were weak compared to historical norms; however, they are likely to have reached a cyclical low. Moderating home prices combined with gains in household income will boost housing affordability, bringing more buyers to the market in the coming months.”

 

Click here to view the entire monthly report.

The Baldwin County Residential Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Baldwin County Association of Realtors to better serve Gulf Coast consumers.

Source: Alabama Center for Real Estate

AL statewide home sales up from one year ago (Jan)

The statewide median home sales price in January was $151,015, an increase of 5.5 percent from January 2018. (iStock)

Sales: Alabama statewide home sales totaled 3,358 units during January, up 1.1 percent from 3,320 sales in the same month a year earlier. January sales were down 22 percent compared to 4,303 sales in December. Results were 10.8 percent above the five-year January average of 3,031 sales. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all statewide housing data, click here.

Inventory: Homes listed for sale statewide during January totaled 22,029 units, a decrease of 7.4 percent from January 2018’s 23,802 units, and an increase of 2.6 percent from December 2018’s 21,463 units. January months of supply totaled 6.6 months, a decrease of 8.5 percent from January 2018’s 7.2 months of supply. However, January’s months of supply increased from December’s 5 months of supply.

Pricing: The statewide median sales price in January was $151,015, an increase of 5.5 percent from one year ago and a decrease of 4.9 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with historical data (2014-18) indicating that the January median sales price on average decreases from December by 4.3 percent. The homes selling in January spent an average of 106 days on the market (DOM), a decrease of 8 percent from 116 days in January 2018 and a 4.7 percent increase from 102 days in December. This indicator can fluctuate from month to month because of the sampling size of data and seasonal buying patterns.

Forecast: January sales were 180 units, or 5.1 percent, below the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 3,538 sales for the month, while actual sales were 3,358 units. ACRE forecast a total of 60,385 residential sales statewide in 2019, while there were 61,072 actual sales in 2018.

ACRE’s statewide perspective: After a strong 2018, statewide residential sales in January increased 1.1 percent year-over-year from 3,320 to 3,358 closed transactions. Home price appreciation in the state continued to climb as the median sales price in January increased 5.5 percent year-over-year from $143,152 to $151,015. Although nationwide inventory levels are trending upward, Alabama’s residential listings decreased 7.4 percent from one year ago. Low inventory levels were a significant factor contributing to rising sales prices throughout 2018. With low inventory levels, it is not surprising to see homes selling more quickly than in previous years. Homes selling in Alabama during January spent an average of 106 days on the market, an improvement of 10 days from 2018.

NAR’s national perspective: During January, total existing-home sales nationwide declined 9 percent from approximately 313,000 closed transactions one year ago to 285,000 currently. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said, “Existing home sales in January were weak compared to historical norms; however, they are likely to have reached a cyclical low. Moderating home prices combined with gains in household income will boost housing affordability, bringing more buyers to the market in the coming months.”

 

Click here to view the entire monthly report.

The Alabama Residential Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Alabama Association of Realtors and its local associations.

Source: Alabama Center of Real Estate

Taking on Your Partner’s Debit

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Calonia.

Having candid conversations with your partner about debt can feel uncomfortable, especially if you’re newlyweds or planning a marriage and future together. The reality, however, is that money is often the leading cause of anxiety and stress in a marriage.

According to a 2018 study by Ramsey Solutions, a financial education resource, 86 percent of couples who got married in the last five years started out in debt. What’s more troubling is that couples with higher amounts of debt reported arguing more about money than respondents with less debt.

To avoid years of stress and heartache, have hard discussions early. Ask questions about each other’s debts and agree on a repayment strategy before you tie the knot. Communication can help turn a stressful situation into a marriage based on honesty and teamwork. If you and your spouse want to combine your debts, here are a few key areas to explore.

Questions All Newlyweds Should Ask Before Consolidating Debt

Before filling out consolidation paperwork or making permanent debt-related changes, start by assessing each other’s financial health. Ask these core questions as you open the floor for conversations about debt.

1.       How’s our credit?

Keep in mind that your credit scores and credit reports don’t magically combine once you’re married. These talking points foster transparency in your marriage about past and current debt. For example, a credit report covers active and closed lines of credit, recent inquiries, bankruptcies, and overdue debt.

Sharing these details will help you both learn about recurring financial habits that might be problematic when working toward your long-term goals, like buying a home. You and your spouse are also entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report every 12 months.

While your spouse’s poor credit history may not be a cause to end your union, surfacing credit concerns can help you both strategize a debt repayment plan together.

2.       What’s our total debt?

In addition to reviewing each other’s credit reports and scores, you’ll want to calculate the hard numbers you’re up against – whether you’re planning to combine debt through formal debt consolidation or refinancing, or just want to figure out a plan for lowering your overall household debt.

Be sure to include every type of debt in your tally, including:

  • Credit cards
  • Mortgage
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Auto loans

Combine the remaining balances for each account and add up monthly payments, including the interest rates, so you have the full picture.

3.       What’s our budget?

Another question to consider before consolidating your debt is determining your joint budget. What are your shared monthly expenses each month, such as:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage payments
  • Transportation costs
  • Healthcare
  • Utility bills
  • Loan payments
  • Subscription services
  • Emergency savings

Tally your total monthly expenses so you and your partner know how much of the household income is available to double-down on repaying debt, and how much is locked up for recurring expenditures.

4.       What are our long-term goals?

Knowing where you and your sweetheart stand on long-term goals is critical to mapping out a debt repayment plan that works toward those goals. This conversation will likely lead to more questions, but that’s okay.

You may not be able to figure this one out in one sitting, but starting the conversation early helps guide decisions about your debt, like setting a deadline for being a debt-free couple.

5.       Do we live in a community property state?

It’s helpful to know how you factor into your spouse’s debt liability on a legal level. In general, unless you cosign on your spouse’s debt (before or after getting married) or open a joint account after marrying, you’re not liable for their debt in the event of divorce or death.

However, if you live in a “community property” state, all assets and debts are considered community property, meaning that you’re both equally on the hook for the debt in a 50-50 split. The nine community property states are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

In these states, both spouses are equally responsible for any debt that accrued during the marriage (e.g., credit card debt or a car loan that your spouse took out without your consent) so setting ground rules about large purchases should be an important part of your debt reduction plan. The only exception to this rule is in the state of California, where educational loans are considered separate and not community property.

Strategies for debt repayment

As newlyweds, there are many ways to lower your debt together, so think creatively and come up with a plan that works best for your shared future and goals.

Here are a few strategies to repay your debt as a team, sooner rather than later:

  • Debt avalanche. This approach saves you more money on interest over the life of each loan. For this strategy, you’d pay the minimum on every account, but apply extra funds toward the debt with the highest interest rate. Once you’ve repaid the account in full, move on to the next highest interest rate account, and so on.
  • Debt snowball. This method is all about small wins to keep you motivated about paying off your debt. First, make the minimum payment on all your debts, but apply extra funds toward the account with the lowest balance After you successfully pay off one account, move on to the next highest balance, and so on.
  • Debt consolidation or refinancing. Another option to repay debt is through debt consolidation programs or refinancing, which combine multiple debts into one new loan. This approach requires a good credit score, but it may also carry a higher interest rate or longer repayment term (both of which might mean more cost in the long run).

You’ll both need consistency and communication to stick to your debt repayment plan. Whichever method you and your partner decide on, you should both acknowledge that you’re in it together. And don’t forget to celebrate the wins – no matter how big or small – along the way.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Baldwin County condo listings up from one year ago

The Baldwin County median condo sales price in December was $323,000. (iStock)

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, Baldwin County condo sales, which include condos along the Gulf Coast, totaled 97 units during December, down 14.2 percent from 113 sales in the same month a year earlier. December sales were down 13.4 percent compared to 112 sales in November. Results were 21.8 percent below the five-year average of 124 sales. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all of Baldwin County’s condo sales data, click here.

Inventory: Baldwin County condo inventory totaled 694 units, an increase of 3.9 percent from December 2017’s 668 units and a decrease of 3.3 percent from November 2018’s 718 units. December months of supply totaled 7.2 months, up 21 percent from December 2017’s 5.9 months of supply. December’s months of supply also increased 11.6 percent from November’s 6.4 months of supply.

Pricing: The Baldwin County condo median sales price in December was $323,000, a decrease of 4.7 percent from one year ago and a decrease of 17.8 percent from the prior month. This direction is inconsistent with historical data (2013-17) indicating that the December median sales price on average increases from November by 13.6 percent. The differing sample size (number of residential sales of comparative months) can contribute to statistical volatility, including pricing. ACRE recommends consulting with a local real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The average number of days on the market (DOM) for condos sold during December was 94 days, an increase of 8 percent from 87 days in December 2017 and a decrease of 6.9 percent from 101 days in November.

Forecast: December sales were 28 units, or 22.4 percent, below the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 125 sales for the month, and actual sales were 97 units. ACRE forecast a total of 1,556 residential sales for Baldwin County condos year-to-date, while there were 1,549 actual sales through December.

ACRE’s statewide perspective: After 10 consecutive months of gains, statewide residential sales in December decreased 1.6 percent year-over-year from 4,371 to 4,303 closed transactions. For the entire year, statewide residential sales increased 6.3 percent from 57,427 in 2017 to 61,062 in 2018. Home price appreciation in the state continued to climb as the median sales price in December increased 4.7 percent year-over-year from $151,667 to $158,772. The median sales price for all of 2018 was up 4.6 percent from 2017. Although nationwide inventory levels are trending upwards, Alabama’s residential inventory decreased 6.9 percent from one year ago. Low inventory levels were a major factor contributing to rising sales prices throughout 2018. With low inventory, it is not surprising to see homes selling more quickly than in previous years. Homes selling in Alabama during December spent an average of 102 days on the market, an improvement of 11 days from 2017.

NAR’s national perspective: During December, total existing-home sales nationwide declined 11.7 percent from approximately 427,000 one year ago to 377,000 currently. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, says current housing numbers are partially due to higher interest rates during most of 2018. “The housing market is obviously very sensitive to mortgage rates. Softer sales in December reflected consumer search processes and contract signing activity in previous months when mortgage rates were higher than today. Now, with mortgage rates lower, some revival in home sales is expected going into spring.”

Click here to view the entire monthly report.

The Baldwin County Condo Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Baldwin County Association of Realtors to better serve both local and worldwide consumers interested in the beaches along Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

Source: Alabama Center of Real Estate

Listings in Baldwin County up 17% in December

Total December sales were 9 percent above the five-year December average. (iStock)

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors/Multiple Listing Service, Baldwin County residential sales totaled 450 units during December, down 4.3 percent from 470 sales in the same month a year earlier. December sales were down 7.2 percent compared to 485 sales in November. Results were 8.9 percent above the five-year December average of 413 sales. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all of Baldwin County’s housing data, click here.

Inventory: Total homes listed for sale in the Baldwin County area during December were 3,282 units, an increase of 17.3 percent from December 2017’s 2,798 units and an increase of 14.2 percent from November’s 2018’s 2,875 units. December’s months of supply totaled 7.3 months, an increase of 22.5 percent when compared to December 2017’s 6 months of supply. December’s months of supply increased 23 percent from November 2018’s 5.9 months.

Pricing: The Baldwin County median sales price in December was $231,450, a decrease of 3.3 percent from one year ago and a decrease of 5.7 percent from the prior month. This direction is inconsistent with historical data (2013-17) indicating that the December median sales price on average increases from November by 3.8 percent. The differing sample size (number of residential sales of comparative months) can contribute to statistical volatility, including pricing. ACRE recommends consulting with a local real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The average number of days on the market (DOM) for homes sold during December was 90 days, a decrease of 9.1 percent from 99 days in December 2017 and a decrease of 2.2 percent from 92 days in November.

Forecast: December sales were 57 units, or 11.3 percent, below the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 507 sales for the month, while actual sales were 450 units. ACRE forecast a total of 6,593 residential sales in the Baldwin County area for 2018, while there were 6,845 actual sales.

ACRE’s statewide perspective: While nationwide sales declined 4.5 percent during November, residential sales in Alabama continued to grow. Total residential sales in Alabama increased 6.9 percent year-over-year from 4,311 to 4,606 closed transactions. Year-to-date through November, statewide residential sales are up 7 percent from 53,056 one year ago to 56,769 currently. Home price appreciation in the state continued to climb as the median sales price in November increased 3.2 percent year-over-year from $151,667 to $156,587. The year-to-date median sales price is up 4.7 percent from 2017. Although nationwide inventory levels increased 4.2 percent in November, Alabama’s residential inventory decreased 8.8 percent from one year ago. Low inventory levels were a major factor contributing to rising sales prices throughout 2018. With low inventory, it is not surprising to see homes selling more quickly than in previous years. Homes selling in Alabama during November spent an average of 93 days on the market, an improvement of 24 days from 2017.

NAR’s national perspective: During November, nationwide inventory for existing homes increased 4.2 percent year-over-year from 1.67 million to 1.74 million residential listings. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, “the market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago. Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.”

Click here to view the entire monthly report.

The Baldwin County Residential Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Baldwin County Association of Realtors to better serve Gulf Coast consumers.

Source: Alabama Center of Real Estate

Homes in Mobile area selling faster than one year

The Mobile median home sales price in December was $150,000, an increase of 7.2 percent from the same month in 2017. (iStock)

Sales: According to the Mobile Area Association of Realtors, Mobile-area residential sales totaled 340 units during December, down 2.9 percent from 350 sales in the same month a year earlier. Sales were up two units compared to 338 sales in November. Results were 8.8 percent above the five-year December average of 313 sales. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all Mobile-area home sales data, click here.

Inventory: Total homes listed for sale in the Mobile area during December were 1,359 units, a decrease of 13.3 percent from December 2017’s 1,567 units and a decrease of 5.6 percent from November 2018’s 1,439 units. Mobile also experienced a year-over-year decline in months of supply. December months of supply totaled 4 months, a decrease of 10.7 percent from December 2017’s 4.5 months. December’s months of supply also decreased 6.1 percent from November’s 4.3 months.

Pricing: The Mobile median sales price in December was $150,000, an increase of 7.2 percent from one year ago and an increase of 0.7 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with historical data (2013-17) indicating that the December median sales price on average increases from November by 8.8 percent. The differing sample size (number of residential sales of comparative months) can contribute to statistical volatility, including pricing. ACRE recommends consulting with a local real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The average number of days on the market (DOM) for homes sold during December was 70 days, a decrease of 15.7 percent from 83 days in December 2017 and a decrease of 4.1 percent from 73 days in November.

Forecast: December sales were three units, or 0.9 percent, above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 337 sales for the month, while actual sales were 340 units. ACRE forecast 4,598 total residential sales in the Mobile area for 2018, while there were 4,613 actual sales.

ACRE’s statewide perspective: After 10 consecutive months of gains, statewide residential sales in December decreased 1.6 percent year-over-year from 4,371 to 4,303 closed transactions. For the entire year, statewide residential sales increased 6.3 percent from 57,427 in 2017 to 61,062 in 2018. Home price appreciation in the state continued to climb as the median sales price in December increased 4.7 percent year-over-year from $151,667 to $158,772. The median sales price for all of 2018 was up 4.6 percent from 2017. Although nationwide inventory levels are trending upwards, Alabama’s residential inventory decreased 6.9 percent from one year ago. Low inventory levels were a major factor contributing to rising sales prices throughout 2018. With low inventory, it is not surprising to see homes selling more quickly than in previous years. Homes selling in Alabama during December spent an average of 102 days on the market, an improvement of 11 days from 2017.

NAR’s national perspective: During November, nationwide inventory for existing homes increased 4.2 percent year-over-year from 1.67 million to 1.74 million residential listings. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, “the market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago. Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.”

 

Click here to view the entire monthly report.

The Mobile Area Residential Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Mobile Area Association of Realtors to better serve Gulf Coast consumers.

Source: Alabama Center of Real Estate

AL statewide median home sales price up 5% YTD

The statewide median sales price in December was $158,772. (iStock)

Sales: Alabama statewide home sales totaled 4,303 units during December, down 1.6 percent from 4,371 sales in the same month a year earlier. December sales were also down 6.4 percent compared to 4,598 sales in November. Results were 13.8 percent above the five-year December average of 3,780 sales. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all statewide housing data, click here.

Inventory: Homes listed for sale statewide during December totaled 21,463 units, a decrease of 6.9 percent from December 2017’s 23,061 units, and a decrease of 4 percent from November 2018’s 22,361 units. December months of supply totaled 5 months, a decrease of 5.5 percent from December 2017’s 5.3 months of supply. However, December’s months of supply increased from November’s 4.9 months of supply.

Pricing: The statewide median sales price in December was $158,772, an increase of 4.7 percent from one year ago and an increase of 2.4 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with historical data (2013-17) indicating that the December median sales price on average increases from November by 0.2 percent. The homes selling in December spent an average of 102 days on the market (DOM), a decrease of 9.8 percent from 113 days in December 2017 and an 8.8 percent increase from 93 days in November. This indicator can fluctuate from month to month because of the sampling size of data and seasonal buying patterns.

Forecast: December sales were 26 units, or 0.6 percent, above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 4,277 sales for the month, while actual sales were 4,303 units. ACRE forecast a total of 57,762 residential sales statewide in 2018, while there were 61,072 actual sales through December.

ACRE’s statewide perspective: After 10 consecutive months of gains, statewide residential sales in December decreased 1.6 percent year-over-year from 4,371 to 4,303 closed transactions. For the entire year, statewide residential sales increased 6.3 percent from 57,427 in 2017 to 61,062 in 2018. Home price appreciation in the state continued to climb as the median sales price in December increased 4.7 percent year-over-year from $151,667 to $158,772. The median sales price for all of 2018 was up 4.6 percent from 2017. Although nationwide inventory levels are trending upwards, Alabama’s residential inventory decreased 6.9 percent from one year ago. Low inventory levels were a major factor contributing to rising sales prices throughout 2018. With low inventory, it is not surprising to see homes selling more quickly than in previous years. Homes selling in Alabama during December spent an average of 102 days on the market, an improvement of 11 days from 2017.

NAR’s national perspective: During December, total existing-home sales nationwide declined 11.7 percent from approximately 427,000 one year ago to 377,000 currently. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, says current housing numbers are partially due to higher interest rates during most of 2018. “The housing market is obviously very sensitive to mortgage rates. Softer sales in December reflected consumer search processes and contract signing activity in previous months when mortgage rates were higher than today. Now, with mortgage rates lower, some revival in home sales is expected going into

spring.”

Click here to view the entire monthly report.

The Alabama Residential Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Alabama Association of Realtors and its local associations.

Source: Alabama Center of Real Estate

Most Profitable Home Improvements – Luxury Market

Want to get more bang for your buck when selling your luxury home? Explore a couple of additions and improvements that have been shown to be the most profitable in luxury homes.

GUSTAVO GONZALEZ

JAN 14, 2019

The following is a guest post written by Hillary Hertzberg of the The Jills®

When it comes time to sell your luxury home, you want to ensure you’re receiving the biggest bang for your buck.

Typically this means making sure that any additions and improvements made to your home are ones that have the best odds of being profitable. With that in mind, let’s explore a couple of additions that have been proven to be the most profitable in luxury homes.

If your home lacks a true family room or has one that can be spruced up, this is a great way to not only bring the family together but also get a nice return by adding some additional resale square footage.

Is your luxury home a single story residence? Why not consider adding another floor to it? To be competitive in today’s market, a two-story home is practically a requirement. This may likely include having the aforementioned family room on the first floor and a luxurious master suite on the second. With the additional floor, it’s almost like having a blank canvas full of different ideas you can entertain and implement that will help to give your home a profitable edge if and when it comes to sell. An additional bedroom or two for guests or growing families, a home office space with all of your necessary items to get work done, the options are virtually limitless.

For some extra living space, you may wish to consider adding a deck or patio to the home. Buyers are really big on outdoor spaces and with the right deck addition, your home will essentially become a paradise of entertainment. With a return on investment of just over seventy percent, it’s a profitable addition that will definitely attract the attention of buyers that like to host their own al fresco get-togethers.

The next one is one that you may be quite familiar with, and that’s a kitchen remodel. Perhaps best of all, it’s a remodel that doesn’t have to be elaborate as you might think. As opposed to a full kitchen remodel, a minor remodeling involving something such as replacing appliances for newer ones, swapping a countertop for one with natural stone or granite can result in great resale perks.

Looking for something quick yet effective? Let’s use the front door. Considering it’s one of the first things you and your guests will see each and every time you walk into the home, it’s something that could use a replacement. Plus, the entry door will also be one of the first things a buyer will notice as they walk inside the prospective home they intend to purchase. This replacement won’t take very long and can be completed during the afternoon.

No home improvement and resale value guide would be complete without the mentioning the possibilities available by choosing to upgrade and modernize the bathroom. You may not see the significant return on investment like with some of these aforementioned upgrades like the deck addition, but a larger or modernized bathroom will certainly have its perks among certain buyers.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Winter Lawn Care Tips

Guest post by Henry Walsh

Caring for your lawn during the winter can look different from other homeowners depending on your location. Unless you live in the extreme Southern areas of the country, most grass types will go dormant during the cold winter months. However, just because winter isn’t the primary growing season doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to still do. Check out these winter lawn care tips to keep your lawn healthy.

Apply Fertilizer

Choosing to add fertilizer to your lawn before the snow falls is a great way to give your grass a boost of energy to stay alive during the winter months. Use a slow-release fertilizer when you want to give your lawn root systems a slow and steady stream of energy over a more extended period. Make sure to follow directions and refrain from applying too much fertilizer in one area of the lawn which could cause burning due to too much nitrogen.

Let It Breathe

Aerating your lawn once every couple of years is a great way to make sure that your lawn is receiving essential nutrients at a deeper level. Aerating will allow sunshine, water, and energy to penetrate deep into the soil which will make the lawn healthier and stronger come spring. Renting an aerator is an excellent choice for many homeowners or consider your local winter lawn care professional that can do the job for you. Aerate your lawn before any winter weather, like snow or ice, fall on the grass this winter.

Consider Overseeding

For those homeowners in the South looking for a way to keep their warm-season grass lawns green all year, consider overseeding with the opposing season grass type as part of your winter lawn care, once the lawn goes dormant. The cool-season grass will love the colder temperatures that winter brings while the warm-season grasses take a much-deserved nap. Unfortunately, homeowners in the northern parts of the country will have to accept dormant lawns in frigid temperatures or snow-covered lawns in other winter areas.

Mulch Fallen Leaves

Many parts of the country will see the addition of fallen leaves onto lawns in the early parts of winter. Instead of raking up the leaves and bagging them up for removal, consider using this free source of energy to create a stronger lawn. Mulch the leaves with a leaf mulcher, or by merely using your lawn mower, to cut the leaves into smaller more manageable parts. Dead leaves provide a natural source of nitrogen to the lawn making it a welcome addition for future growth.

Apply Compost

Compost is one of those items that every homeowner needs to keep a healthy lawn. Compost can be created at home in a compost pile or is available for purchase from a local garden center. Compost is helpful to add to a lawn before winter arrives to provide a natural energy source for underlying roots. The compost will be gradually worked into the soil by microorganisms making it a great option to cure many lawn issues.

There are plenty of ways to care for your lawn even if winter temperatures have already arrived in your area. Race against Mother Nature before the arrival of snow and ice to provide your yard with essential added nutrients like compost, fertilizer, and fallen leaves. Aerating and overseeding your lawn are other ways to make sure that your lawn looks great year round. Consider all of these winter lawn care tips this year for a beautiful lawn.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter