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Selling? Low-Cost Home Improvement Fixes that Make Your Home Shine

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Fortunately many fixes can be done quickly and with a small budget. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition.

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition:

1. Address the Heart of the Home

In real estate, the kitchen is a main selling feature and can be a make or break deal for potential home buyers. If a new kitchen just isn’t in the cards, consider replacing smaller ticket items and de-cluttering. Low- and no-cost fixes for the kitchen include:

  • New cabinet hardware
  • New faucets
  • Installing a new backsplash
  • Storing countertop appliances to create more work space
  • Replacing dark valances with lighter fabric or removing them altogether

2. Update Switch Plate Covers

Switch plate and outlet covers are brittle, and can crack and yellow over time, resulting in a home that, no matter how well updated, still looks dated. New outlets and covers can be replaced in a snap for generally under five dollars, making it one of the lowest cost updates available. Consider flat switches that create a modern, streamlined silhouette and stick to white for a timeless look.

3. Beautify the Bathroom

An updated bathroom comes only second to kitchens in a buyer’s list of must-haves, so showing them a clean and uncluttered bathroom will score points with any potential buyer.

New flooring can give an otherwise tired bathroom a much needed facelift and create a newer looking bathroom overall. Coordinating linens, a new shower curtain, and thoroughly cleaned grout can top off this easy home improvement investment.

4. Address Storage

Storage is always a concern for buyers. Installing low-cost closet organizers to your existing space will increase storage and organization in your home. Add storage baskets to hide clutter and you will have beautiful storage spaces that will make any buyer envious.

5. Deep Clean for a Good Return

If your home contains wall to wall carpeting, clean carpets can make a world of difference to a buyer. Cleaning carpets can easily be completed in a weekend with a rental cleaning machine, and it creates a noticeably clean, odor free environment for buyers to tour.

6. Boost Curb Appeal

Nothing boosts curb appeal like a tidy yard. Trim and edge walkways, weed gardens, and trim shrubs for maximum impact. If you have a porch, consider potted, seasonal plants to bring the look together.

7. Improve the First Impression

As buyers approach your home, first impressions matter. Ensuring your entryway is clean and inviting with something as simple as a new mailbox or updated house numbers will make buyers feel welcome. Clean windows and doors for extra impact.

8. Add a Coat of Paint

Freshening up your living space with neutral colors will invite buyers to imagine their belongings in your home and will cover up any nicks, scratches, or dents your wall incurred over years of daily living.

9. Update Lighting

While not the lowest cost solution on our list, you will find that a new light fixture or two really breathes new life into key living spaces. If your budget is tight, look to kitchen, dining, and living rooms for the most bang for your buck.

10. Add Some Decor Pizzazz

Finally, a fresh look can be completed with nothing more than some colorful fabric. Inexpensive pillows and throws in a coordinating palette through your home will create a unified look that will have buyers hooked.

 

Lastly, don’t plan to tackle a home project DIY style until you read 5 Things You Need to Know Before DIY-ing A Home Improvement Project!

(Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter)

8 Vegetables to Grow in Your Garden this Spring

Grab your gardening gear. Here is a round up list of the easiest–and most practical–vegetables to grow in your garden.

As the weather warms, you are no doubt yearning to be outside to get your hands working in the dirt again. If you have never tried gardening, spring is the perfect opportunity to give it a shot and plant your own vegetable garden. Growing your own vegetables is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise, and it also allows you to get the highest possible amount of nutrients from your food. Fresh vegetables are much healthier for you than those bought from the store, as they begin to lose nutritional value the longer they sit on a shelf.

Get your gardening gear out from storage. Here is a round up list of the easiest–and most practical–vegetables to grow in your garden.

1. Tomatoes

If you are new to gardening, tomatoes should absolutely be your first plant to try. Homegrown tomatoes, ripened in the sun, are a delicious addition to any meal. They are high in fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and several vitamins (including A and C). They are also one of the only sources of the beneficial antioxidant lycopene. If you’re just starting out or have limited space, try growing tomatoes in a container on your deck first. Usually, you can get by with just an 18-inch deep container. One plant will yield dozens of tomatoes throughout the season. Just remember that tomatoes like lots of sun and heat, so if you live in a colder area, it may take a little bit longer to get them growing.

2. Beans and Peas

Beans and peas are incredibly easy to grow. Depending on your preferences and your gardening space, you can choose to grow either bush or climbing varieties. Bush beans support themselves, while climbing or “pole” varieties need a stake or trellis to climb up on.

If you’re feeling extra organic, consider planting your beans and peas next to your corn. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil which aids the corn, and also use the stalk as a natural trellis. Both peas and beans are high in fiber, iron, potassium, and a wide range of vitamins. Plus, they continue to produce basket upon basket of delicious vegetables throughout the entire season.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is a great vegetable to grow as it is one of the most nutritionally dense. It is high in crucial nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

Although broccoli can be grown in containers, it’s just as easy to plant it directly in the ground. It is commonly known as a cold-season crop, so it can withstand a light frost–and actually tastes better after doing so. Meaning, you can plant it when soil temperatures are still a bit chilly in early spring and keep it going long into autumn.

4. Peppers

There are dozens of varieties of peppers you can grow, but most of them are all cultivated in about the same way. Consider bell peppers for your first try at pepper planting. A cool feature of planting bell peppers is that you will have different types of peppers at every growing stage. Harvest them young for crunchy green peppers, or wait a few weeks to allow the sun to further ripen them into delicious red peppers.

Whichever type you choose, peppers are full of nutrients, such as riboflavin and potassium. They can also be planted in pots, but grow best directly in the ground. Like tomatoes, they like lots of heat. Make sure you plant them in a warm, sunny area.

5. Carrots

A word to the wise–if you have rocky or clay soils, consider planting carrots in a raised bed or container. Carrots like fertile, loose soil and need plenty of room to stretch out and extend their roots. Carrots are an icon of healthy eating and are high in vitamins A, B6, and C. Sow carrot seeds about two to three inches apart, and be sure to thin them as they form tops.

6. Leafy Greens

There are dozens of varieties of greens you can plant in your garden. Choose the one that best works for your climate and soil type. Popular varieties that tend to work almost anywhere include spinach and kale. Both are cold-season crops that can be started a bit earlier than other crops, and can be harvested continually throughout the year. As a bonus, once they begin to die back and your harvest dips, you can reseed over the existing plants to produce new, fresh plants. Regardless of the type of greens you plant, these are easy to grow and harvest and contain high amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins.

7. Cucumbers

 Make room for at least one cucumber plant in your garden this summer. Cucumber plants produce large quantities, all of which spiral out in spiky vines. They can spread up to twenty-five feet away, so make sure you have plenty of room. Whether you plant pickling or slicing cucumbers, you should plant about five seeds in 6-inch high hills, and then thin to the two strongest plants. These warm-season crops love heat, so consider planting them on top of a layer of black plastic to heat up the soil.

8. Zucchini

The last plant on our list is zucchini. Zucchini plants have a reputation for being prolific producers, developing so many fruits at a time. The roots of the plant need regular moisture, but besides that, this is a low-maintenance vegetable that will pump out a bumper crop with just a single plant. You can eat both the fruits and blossoms of these delicious giants. Like cucumbers, they prefer warm, moist soil, so the black plastic sheet method works well in this situation, too.

Growing your own vegetables is a noble task that can take very little time and skill. If you’re ready to start on your path to self-sufficiency, give these tasty plants a try this spring.

(Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter)

Alabama’s residential new construction market continues to expand

Sales of newly constructed homes in Alabama continued to grow in February. New construction sales increased 22 percent from January and increased 14 percent from February 2017. Statewide*, 507 newly constructed homes were sold in February, up from 416 total sales in January and up from 445 total sales in February 2017. Year-to-date, new construction sales are up 6 percent from 2017.

Alabama’s new construction market grew at a faster pace than the nation’s as a whole during February. Nationwide, new construction sales increased 8.5 percent from January, when approximately 47,000 units were sold. There were approximately 51,000 newly constructed homes sold nationwide during February, showing no change from one year ago.

Although the total number of homes listed for sale both in Alabama and in the nation is trending downward, new construction inventory continues to grow in both Alabama and the United States. During February there were 3,138 new construction units listed for sale in the state, an increase of 1.9 percent from January and an increase of 20.9 percent from February 2017. During February approximately 301,000 new construction units were listed for sale nationwide, an increase of 1.4 percent from January and an increase of 16.2 percent from February 2017. There were 6.2 months of supply in Alabama’s new construction market during February, while there were 5.9 months of supply nationwide.

However, Alabama’s new construction market did go against national trends in one area: pricing. Statewide, the median sales price for new construction was $224,470 during February. The median sales price decreased 1.7 percent from January and decreased 3.5 percent from February 2017. Nationwide, the median sales price was $326,800 during February, representing an increase of 0.6 percent from January and an increase of 9 percent from February 2017.

Building permits and housing starts are early indicators of activity in the new construction market, and they are also helpful when measuring overall economic conditions, as the housing market is one of the first sectors to rise or fall when the economy grows or contracts. Permit data for new housing also show that Alabama’s new construction market is growing at a faster rate than the nation as a whole. Statewide, 1,225 building permits for new construction were issued during February. Permits increased 1.1 percent from January and increased 10.1 percent from February 2017. Nationwide, 92,091 permits were issued, representing a decrease of 4.7 percent from January and an increase of 8.6 percent from February 2017.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “start of construction occurs when excavation begins for the footings or foundation of a building.” The Alabama Center for Real Estate uses building permit data to calculate projected housing starts. Statewide, there were 1,219 housing starts during February, a decrease of 2.9 percent from January and an increase of 13 percent from February 2017. Using the same calculation, ACRE projected 95,555 housing starts nationwide during February, a decrease of 0.7 percent from January and an increase of 9.1 percent from February 2017. Building permits and housing starts are growing in Alabama and the United States, and this is encouraging news for economic conditions going forward.

Total New Construction Sales in Select Alabama Markets

February 2018 January 2018 February 2017
Baldwin County 100 73 44
Birmingham Metro 125 89 135
Huntsville Metro 112 110 117
Lee County 36 30 34
Limestone County 46 37 32
Mobile Metro 17 17 17
Montgomery Metro 35 24 29
Tuscaloosa Metro 15 14 16

 

*ACRE receives new construction sales data from the following counties/areas: Baldwin County, Birmingham Metro Area, Calhoun County, Huntsville Metro Area, Lee County, Mobile Metro Area, Montgomery Metro Area, Tuscaloosa County and the Wiregrass Region. Combined, these counties/areas represent +/- 70 percent of Alabama’s total population.

Stuart Norton is the Research Coordinator at the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE).

Click here to read the entire Alabama New Construction Report – February 2018

Click here for new construction as a percentage of total residential sales – February 2018

March residential sales in Baldwin County top five-year average by 36 percent

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors/Multiple Listing Service, March residential sales in Baldwin County totaled 635 units, down 4.2 percent from last March. Current sales are 35.5 percent above the five-year March average of 469 residential sales. The area saw 1,436 residential sales during the first quarter of 2018, up 1.5 percent from the 1,415 sales during the same period one year ago. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

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

Forecast: March results were 58 units or 10.1 percent above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 1,427 closed transactions through March, while there were 1,436 actual sales, a difference of 0.6 percent.

Supply: The Baldwin County housing inventory in March was 2,987 units, an increase of 11.9 percent from one year ago. The area’s housing inventory has declined 48.2 percent from the 10-year March peak in 2008, when 5,771 units were available for sale. There were 4.7 months of housing supply in March, representing an increase of 16.8 percent from the 4 months of housing supply available in the area in March 2017. The market reaches equilibrium at approximately 6 months of housing supply, with an even balance between supply and demand.

Demand: Baldwin County residential sales increased 54.9 percent from February. This is consistent with historical data indicating that March residential sales on average (2013-17) increase from February by 38.4 percent. Existing single-family homes accounted for 53 percent of total sales in the area, while 23 percent of sales were new construction. Condo sales accounted for the remaining 24 percent. The average number of days on the market in March was 101, representing a decrease of 28.9 percent from one year ago, when homes in the area averaged 142 days on the market.

Pricing: The Baldwin County median sales price in March was $233,900, an increase of 6.4 percent from March 2017, when the median price was $219,900. The median sales price was down 1.8 percent from the prior month. This month-over-month price decrease runs against historical data trends from 2013-17 indicating that March median sales prices on average increase 0.8 percent from February. ACRE highly recommends consulting with a real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Industry perspective: Interest rates are likely to increase throughout 2018. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on March 21 and approved a quarter-point rate hike. As of April 5, the 10-Year Treasury stood at 2.83 percent, down slightly from 2.88 percent one month ago. Although daily yield curve rates have decreased slightly in the past month, many analysts are projecting that the 10-year Treasury will pass 3 percent in the months to come. According to Wells Fargo, the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.58 percent (annual percentage rate).

As the overall economy continues to expand, it is not surprising to see growth in Alabama’s residential new construction market. February sales of newly constructed homes grew 22 percent month-over-month and 14 percent year-over-year. Statewide*, there were 507 new construction sales in February, up from 416 total sales in January and up from 445 total sales in February 2017. Year-to-date, new construction sales are up 6 percent from 2017.

February new construction sales in select Alabama markets

  • Baldwin County – 100
  • Birmingham Metro Area – 125
  • Huntsville Metro Area – 112
  • Lee County – 36
  • Mobile Metro Area – 17
  • Montgomery Metro Area – 35
  • Tuscaloosa County – 15

New construction building permits and housing starts data are indicators of larger economic conditions. Generally speaking, the housing market is one of the first sectors to expand or contract during times of growth or decline. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1,225 building permits for new construction were issued in Alabama during February. Building permits increased 1.1 percent from January, when 1,212 permits were issued, and increased 10.1 percent from February 2017, when 1,113 permits were issued. ACRE projected 1,219 housing starts in Alabama during February. Housing starts decreased 2.9 percent from January (1,256) and increased 13 percent from February 2017 (1,079). Year-over-year increases in both building permits and projected housing starts are encouraging news, as they hint toward continued overall economic growth during the second quarter of 2018.

*ACRE receives new construction sales data from the following counties/areas: Baldwin County, Birmingham Metro Area, Calhoun County, Huntsville Metro Area, Lee County, Mobile Metro Area, Montgomery Metro Area, Tuscaloosa County and the Wiregrass Region. Combined, these counties/areas represent +/- 70 percent of Alabama’s total population.

Click here to generate more graphs from the Baldwin County March Housing Report, including Total Sales, Average Sales Price, Days on the Market, Total Inventory and Months of Supply. 

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

March condo sales in Baldwin County up 4 percent from 5-year average

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, Baldwin County condo sales, which include condos along the Gulf Coast, totaled 151 units during March, a 30.1 percent decrease from one year ago. Current sales results are 4.4 percent above the five-year March average of 145 condo sales. Two more resources to view: Quarterly Reportand Annual Report.

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

Forecast: March condo sales were 12 units or 8.6 percent above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. Year-to-date, 365 Baldwin County condos have been sold, 8 percent above ACRE’s forecast of 338 condo sales through March. 

Supply: Baldwin County condo inventory totaled 755 units in March, up from 752 units one year ago. Condo inventory was up 6.9 percent from the prior month. This increase in inventory is relatively consistent with historical data from 2013-17 indicating that March inventory on average increases 1.7 percent from February. Condo inventory during March peaked in 2008 at 2,474 units, and the current inventory is down 69.5 percent from that peak.

Demand: Baldwin County condo sales increased 33.6 percent from the previous month. This month-over-month sales increase is consistent with historical data indicating that March condo sales on average (2013-17) increase from February by 32.1 percent. Condos selling in March averaged 90 days on the market. This is a significant improvement from one year ago, when condos averaged 137 days on the market.

Seeking balance: The inventory of condos for sale divided by the current monthly sales volume equals the number of months of housing supply. The market is considered to be in balance at approximately 6 months of supply. During March the area had 5 months of condo supply, down from 6.2 months of supply last month and up from 3.5 months of supply one year ago.

Pricing: The Baldwin County condo median sales price in March was $315,000, up 13.6 percent from one year ago. The median sales price decreased 4.5 percent from the prior month. This month-over-month price decrease is consistent with historical data trends from 2013-17 indicating that the March median sales price on average decreases 1.6 percent from February. ACRE highly recommends consulting with a real estate professional to discuss pricing, as it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Industry perspective: Interest rates are likely to increase throughout 2018. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on March 21 and approved a quarter-point rate hike. As of April 5, the 10-Year Treasury stood at 2.83 percent, down slightly from 2.88 percent one month ago. Although daily yield curve rates have decreased slightly in the past month, many analysts are projecting that the 10-year Treasury will pass 3 percent in the months to come. According to Wells Fargo, the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.58 percent (annual percentage rate).

As the overall economy continues to expand, it is not surprising to see growth in Alabama’s residential new construction market. February sales of newly constructed homes grew 22 percent month-over-month and 14 percent year-over-year. Statewide*, there were 507 new construction sales in February, up from 416 total sales in January and up from 445 total sales in February 2017. Year-to-date, new construction sales are up 6 percent from 2017.

February new construction sales in select Alabama markets

  • Baldwin County – 100
  • Birmingham Metro Area – 125
  • Huntsville Metro Area – 112
  • Lee County – 36
  • Mobile Metro Area – 17
  • Montgomery Metro Area – 35
  • Tuscaloosa County – 15

New construction building permits and housing starts data are indicators of larger economic conditions. Generally speaking, the housing market is one of the first sectors to expand or contract during times of growth or decline. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1,225 building permits for new construction were issued in Alabama during February. Building permits increased 1.1 percent from January, when 1,212 permits were issued, and increased 10.1 percent from February 2017, when 1,113 permits were issued. ACRE projected 1,219 housing starts in Alabama during February. Housing starts decreased 2.9 percent from January (1,256) and increased 13 percent from February 2017 (1,079). Year-over-year increases in both building permits and projected housing starts are encouraging news, as they hint toward continued overall economic growth during the second quarter of 2018.

*ACRE receives new construction sales data from the following counties/areas: Baldwin County, Birmingham Metro Area, Calhoun County, Huntsville Metro Area, Lee County, Mobile Metro Area, Montgomery Metro Area, Tuscaloosa County and the Wiregrass Region. Combined, these counties/areas represent +/- 70 percent of Alabama’s total population.

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.

Statewide home sales continue to peak through March

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the Alabama Center for Real Estate Corporate CabinetJoin the Center mailing list here.

Sales: There were 5,353 residential sales in Alabama during March, an increase of 2.5 percent from one year ago. Current sales results are 25.9 percent above the five-year monthly average of 4,250 transactions. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

Forecast: March sales were 6.9 percent or 345 units above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 12,311 residential sales statewide year-to-date, while there were 12,497 actual sales through March.

Supply: The statewide housing inventory during March was 24,127 listings, a decrease of 8.9 percent from March 2017 and 41.7 percent below the 10-year March peak in 2008, when 41,398 units were listed for sale. March inventory increased from February by 2.9 percent. This is consistent with historical data trends indicating that March inventory on average (2013-2017) increases 2.9 percent from February.

Demand: March residential sales increased 40.1 percent from February. This rise in sales is consistent with historical data trends indicating that March sales on average (2013-2017) increase from February by 30.5 percent. The average number of days on the market until a listing sold was 152 days, up 14.5 percent from one year ago, when listings across the state averaged 133 days on the market. 

Pricing: The statewide median sales price during March was $154,752, an increase of 10.4 percent from one year ago. The March median sales price increased 3.5 percent from February. This direction is consistent with historical data averages (2013-2017) indicating that the March median sales price on average increases 4.2 percent from February. During March, 84 percent of Alabama markets experienced price gains from one year ago. This indicator can fluctuate from month to month because of sampling size of data and seasonal buying patterns.

Seeking balance: The metro markets in Alabama representing 70 percent of all sales shifted away from equilibrium (balance between supply and demand) with 3.8 months of housing supply during March. Outside the metro markets, Alabama’s midsize metro areas are reporting 4.6 months of housing supply, while non-metro areas are reporting 6.9 months of supply. There have been significant improvements from inventory peaks experienced during the recession.

Industry perspective: Interest rates are likely to increase throughout 2018. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on March 21 and approved a quarter-point rate hike. As of April 5, the 10-Year Treasury stood at 2.83 percent, down slightly from 2.88 percent one month ago. Although daily yield curve rates have decreased slightly in the past month, many analysts are projecting that the 10-year Treasury will pass 3 percent in the months to come. According to Wells Fargo, the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.58 percent (annual percentage rate).

As the overall economy continues to expand, it is not surprising to see growth in Alabama’s residential new construction market. February sales of newly constructed homes grew 22 percent month-over-month and 14 percent year-over-year. Statewide*, there were 507 new construction sales in February, up from 416 total sales in January and up from 445 total sales in February 2017. Year-to-date, new construction sales are up 6 percent from 2017.

February new construction sales in select Alabama markets

  • Baldwin County – 100
  • Birmingham Metro Area – 125
  • Huntsville Metro Area – 112
  • Lee County – 36
  • Mobile Metro Area – 17
  • Montgomery Metro Area – 35
  • Tuscaloosa County – 15

New construction building permits and housing starts data are indicators of larger economic conditions. Generally speaking, the housing market is one of the first sectors to expand or contract during times of growth or decline. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1,225 building permits for new construction were issued in Alabama during February. Building permits increased 1.1 percent from January, when 1,212 permits were issued, and increased 10.1 percent from February 2017, when 1,113 permits were issued. ACRE projected 1,219 housing starts in Alabama during February. Housing starts decreased 2.9 percent from January (1,256) and increased 13 percent from February 2017 (1,079). Year-over-year increases in both building permits and projected housing starts are encouraging news, as they hint toward continued overall economic growth during the second quarter of 2018.

*ACRE receives new construction sales data from the following counties/areas: Baldwin County, Birmingham Metro Area, Calhoun County, Huntsville Metro Area, Lee County, Mobile Metro Area, Montgomery Metro Area, Tuscaloosa County and the Wiregrass Region. Combined, these counties/areas represent +/- 70 percent of Alabama’s total population.

Click here to generate more graphs from the Alabama March Housing Report, including Total Sales, Average Sales Price, Days on the Market, Total Inventory and Months of Supply. 

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

Mobile March home sales up from February, down from 2017

Sales: According to the Mobile Area Association of Realtors, Mobile-area residential sales totaled 381 units during March, a decrease of 16.1 percent from the same month in 2017, when there were 454 residential sales. Current results are 2 percent below the five-year monthly average of 389 closed transactions. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

Forecast: March sales in the Mobile area were 42 units or 10 percent below the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 423 total sales during March, while there were 381 actual sales during the month. ACRE’s year-to-date forecast projected 1,029 sales in the area through March, while there were 930 actual year-to-date sales.

Supply: The Mobile-area housing inventory in March was 1,558 units, a decrease of 17.7 percent from March 2017. Inventory has declined 56.6 percent from the 10-year March peak of 3,593 units reached in 2010. The five-year average for the area during March is 2,416 listings.

Demand: March sales increased 24.5 percent from February. This is consistent with historical data indicating that March sales on average (2013-2017) increase 30.7 percent from February. Homes selling in the area during March averaged 78 days on the market, a decrease of 18 days from the days-on-market average from the same month in 2017. Homes sold 30 days faster than the five-year March average of 108 days on the market.

Seeking balance: The inventory of homes for sale divided by the current monthly sales volume equals the number of months of housing supply. Most real estate professionals consider the market to be in balance at approximately 6 months of housing supply. The Mobile area currently has 4.1 months of housing supply, down from 4.2 months during the same period in 2017. The five-year average for the month of March is 6.4 months of housing supply.

Pricing: The Mobile-area median sales price in March was $138,915, an increase of 1.4 percent from this time last year. The March median sales price decreased 4.2 percent from the previous month. This drop in median price from the previous month contrasts with historical data, which indicate that March median sales prices on average (2013-2017) increase 0.2 percent from February. Pricing can fluctuate from month to month as the sample size of data is subject to seasonal buying patterns. ACRE highly recommends consulting with a local real estate professional to discuss prices, which can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Industry perspective: Interest rates are likely to increase throughout 2018. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on March 21 and approved a quarter-point rate hike. As of April 5, the 10-Year Treasury stood at 2.83 percent, down slightly from 2.88 percent one month ago. Although daily yield curve rates have decreased slightly in the past month, many analysts are projecting that the 10-year Treasury will pass 3 percent in the months to come. According to Wells Fargo, the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.58 percent (annual percentage rate).

As the overall economy continues to expand, it is not surprising to see growth in Alabama’s residential new construction market. February sales of newly constructed homes grew 22 percent month-over-month and 14 percent year-over-year. Statewide*, there were 507 new construction sales in February, up from 416 total sales in January and up from 445 total sales in February 2017. Year-to-date, new construction sales are up 6 percent from 2017.

February new construction sales in select Alabama markets

  • Baldwin County – 100
  • Birmingham Metro Area – 125
  • Huntsville Metro Area – 112
  • Lee County – 36
  • Mobile Metro Area – 17
  • Montgomery Metro Area – 35
  • Tuscaloosa County – 15

New construction building permits and housing starts data are indicators of larger economic conditions. Generally speaking, the housing market is one of the first sectors to expand or contract during times of growth or decline. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1,225 building permits for new construction were issued in Alabama during February. Building permits increased 1.1 percent from January, when 1,212 permits were issued, and increased 10.1 percent from February 2017, when 1,113 permits were issued. ACRE projected 1,219 housing starts in Alabama during February. Housing starts decreased 2.9 percent from January (1,256) and increased 13 percent from February 2017 (1,079). Year-over-year increases in both building permits and projected housing starts are encouraging news, as they hint toward continued overall economic growth during the second quarter of 2018.

*ACRE receives new construction sales data from the following counties/areas: Baldwin County, Birmingham Metro Area, Calhoun County, Huntsville Metro Area, Lee County, Mobile Metro Area, Montgomery Metro Area, Tuscaloosa County and the Wiregrass Region. Combined, these counties/areas represent +/- 70 percent of Alabama’s total population.

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

Mobile’s February home sales jump from last year

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Sales: According to the Mobile Area Association of Realtors, Mobile-area residential sales totaled 306 units during February, a increase of 15.5 percent from the same month in 2017, when there were 265 residential sales. Current results are 13.1 percent above the five-year monthly average of 271 closed transactions. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

Forecast: February sales in the Mobile area were 13 units or 4 percent below the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 319 total sales during February, while there were 306 actual sales during the month. ACRE’s year-to-date forecast projected 606 sales in the area through February, while there were 549 actual year-to-date sales.

Supply: The Mobile-area housing inventory in February was 1,583 units, a decrease of 15.8 percent from February 2017. Inventory has declined 54.2 percent from the 10-year February peak of 3,457 units reached in 2010. The five-year average for the area during February is 2,413 listings.

Demand: February sales increased 25.9 percent from January. This is consistent with historical data indicating that February sales on average (2013-2017) increase 5.8 percent from January. Homes selling in the area during February averaged 100 days on the market, an increase of 13 days from the days-on-market average from the same month in 2017. Homes sold 11 days faster than the five-year February average of 111 days on the market.

Seeking balance: The inventory of homes for sale divided by the current monthly sales volume equals the number of months of housing supply. Most real estate professionals consider the market to be in balance at approximately 6 months of housing supply. The Mobile area currently has 5.2 months of housing supply, down from 7.1 months during the same period in 2017. The five-year average for the month of February is 8.9 months of housing supply.

Pricing: The Mobile-area median sales price in February was $145,000, an increase of 12.4 percent when compared to the median sales price from this time last year. The February median sales price decreased 2 percent from the previous month. This drop in median price from the previous month contrasts with historical data, which indicate that February median sales prices on average (2013-2017) increase 9.2 percent from January. Pricing can fluctuate from month to month as the sample size of data is subject to seasonal buying patterns. ACRE highly recommends consulting with a local real estate professional to discuss prices, which can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Industry perspective: The 10-year treasury is a crucial indicator of economic expansion. As of March 1, 2018, the 10-year treasury stood at 2.88 percent, a slight increase from last month’s rate of 2.86 percent. Mortgage rates also experienced a slight increase recently as the current rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.57 percent, up from 4.38 percent one month ago. As the economy continues to strengthen, people will have more money in their pockets with the intent to spend. This increase in spending will most likely create higher stock prices and lower bond prices. With this increase of confidence in the market, mortgage interest rates can be expected to increase.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) produces economic analyses of the home-building industry based on government data. The Housing Market Index (HMI) depicts market conditions for the sale of new homes. The HMI ranges from 0 to 100; a rate greater than 50 represents good sales conditions.

The HMI in the South has stayed relatively steady in the past few months with a score of 73. However, the HMI is lower in some regions of the United States, such as the Northeast, which has a rate of 56. The West has a higher HMI of 77, and a better market for good housing conditions.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency uses the House Price Index (HPI) to measure the average price changes in repeat sales or refinancing on the same properties. The FHFA’s national HPI was up 6.7 percent from the previous year compared to Alabama, which has increased from the previous year by 5.6 percent. The HPI rose in all 49 states except for Mississippi.

Compared to the national housing market conditions, Alabama’s real estate market has been showing improvement. Although total residential sales in Alabama decreased 2.3 percent from January 2017, the statewide median sales price increased 2.3 percent from January 2017. Statewide, homes in Alabama are selling much more quickly than in recent years as the average days on the market decreased 19.6 percent from one year ago.

Spring-Cleaning Hacks That Will Last All Season

So, it’s that time of year again when we get down on our hands and knees to scrub our home top to bottom. Sponge? Check. Eco-friendly cleaning solutions? Check. Rubber gloves? Check. Ready, set, clean. You step back to admire your hard work only to realize your home doesn’t look any different after hours of scouring.

Avoid the spring-cleaning blues. Put the duster down and actually make a visual difference to your home. Remember that feeling when you just moved in? It’s like a new car smell. Everything had its place, décor was new and you had just what you needed. Find that home again! It’s simply a change of mindset, look beyond the mop to the tasks that will actually transform your home for the entire season. Follow these spring-cleaning hacks to a cleaner, brighter home:

  • Out With the Poinsettias: Replace houseplants with fresh spring plants from a local farmer’s market. Fresh plants help improve the flow of oxygen in your home, bringing in that clean spring-like air.
  • Toss the Pillows: In the spring, it’s time to put heavy fabrics, throw blankets and extra toss pillows in storage. Less things and textures will make you feel cool and clean.
  • Raise Your Kids: Beds, that is. Purchase bed raisers for your kids’ rooms to create under-the-bed storage. You can store everything from shoes, laundry basket, books to any bulky items that might otherwise clutter their room.
  • Sort the Soups: Done with winter’s comfort foods? Sort through your kitchen cabinets and box up canned foods you have not used in three months. Donate them to your local food bank. An organized pantry creates space for fresh spring meals and perhaps a cleaner diet.
  • Seasonal Style Assessment: Take a look at your winter shoes, coats and purses. Will they make it another season? If so, remove them from your closet and put them in storage. If they won’t make it another season, donate them. And, no shopping for new spring clothes! That is until you make room for them. Get rid of an old item for every new item. Then say hello to your organized closet!
  • Clear Clutter Magnets: What are the places in your home that attract the most clutter? By the front door? That special junk drawer? Bedside table? Coat closet? Identify your clutter magnets and pick one per weekend to de-clutter.

To de-clutter, empty everything out and create four piles: keep, give away, throw away and store. If you can’t remember the last time you used something, get rid of it! Only put the items back that you really need. Create “homes” for items that end up attracted to each spot. For example, make a basket for each family member so little Logan has a place to dump his schoolbooks when he walks in the door. Stack the baskets close by their former drop spot. Lastly, take a picture of your new “anti-clutter magnet” and place it on the inside of a drawer or underneath a table to refer to, so you can keep it that way! You will be amazed at how happy that clutter-free spot makes you feel every time you walk by.

Now step back, take a deep breath and soak in the clear clean space of your refreshed home. When your friends come over, they will be sure to ask for the name of the cleaning service you used!

{Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter}

 

Simple Landscaping Upgrades to Attract Prospective Buyers

A home can be modern and cozy inside, but without curb appeal, potential buyers will lose interest before they step inside. An attractive, well-kept lawn is one of the first things people will notice. The good news is that upgrading an existing lawn doesn’t have to take months, and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Here are a few simple upgrades to help boost your curb appeal.

Remove Weeds

If weeds have gained the upper hand, pulling is still the tried and true method for getting rid of weeds in a hurry. If the act of pulling the weeds won’t do the trick, you’ll need to attack them with an herbicide. Always use chemicals strategically and make sure to use the correct amount–different weeds require different treatment.

Declutter

Take a stroll around your lawn and pick up anything that doesn’t belong. Take a wheelbarrow if you have a lot of branches, twigs or other debris. Pick up children’s toys and gardening tools. Put hoses away, or invest in an attractive roller.

Overseed

Rake over brown spots to remove dead grass, then spread grass seed. For a more enhanced effect, aerate the soil before overseeding to help break up the soil and allow nutrients to get to the root of the grass more efficiently.

Mow

Taller grass stays green longer than short grass. Set your mower relatively high and take a little off the top every three to five days. Be sure the blade is sharp. A dull blade tears the grass and leaves ragged, brown edges.

Fertilize

Nitrogen-rich fertilizer will green up your lawn quickly, make sure to use the right amount according to your soil and grass type. A little nitrogen is a good thing, but too much may damage your lawn. Limit this trick to once or twice a year. Be sure and water well immediately after applying any type of fertilizer.

Iron is also helpful in turning a drab grass into a lush and healthy green lawn. Mineral supplements can be inexpensive and can be found at your local garden center or nursery.

Freshen up

Refresh any flower beds around your lawn by laying down a new think layer of mulch. The deep tones of fresh mulch will help compliment the more potent hues within the rest of the landscaping, making everything else pop. Fresh mulch is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take too much time to apply yourself.

You can also consider investing in an inexpensive edger to smooth out and even out the edges of your lawn. This is a quick and easy way to make your landscaping look trim and neat.

Add color

Flower beds and container gardens are a great way to add a pop of color into your landscaping. Plant a few cheerful annuals such as geraniums, petunias or marigolds. Clean up an exterior furniture or give it a fresh coat of paint. Don’t be afraid to use bright, bold colors.

{Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter}