A look at the 2012 Birmingham, AL real estate market by 4 local experts

The old saying of “location, location, location” in real estate could not be more true in today’s market. We all know that real estate is location specific and just because it is performing a certain way in one part of the country does not mean it’s like that in the Birmingham, AL area. National news has been reporting on the real estate market across the county but have you wondered how the local market stacks up against the rest of the nation? I asked four local experts to share what they have seen so far in 2012 and what they expect to happen the rest of the year.

Collier Swecker, RealtorCollier Swecker, The Mega Agent Real Estate Team, RE/MAX Advantage– I have found that the sellers who initially price their home near the eventual selling price and stage the home for sale continue to sell faster and for more money. Sellers have to be realistic when setting their list price and understand that they will not sell if they are overpriced. The days of buyers bringing offers on overpriced properties is over. The cities and towns south of Birmingham continue to drive sales in the market and one interesting fact is that the sales price between foreclosures and non-foreclosures is well over $100,000. This means that the non-foreclosures have performed well in a tough market and this is music to the ears of many owners looking to sell their homes. I believe that short sales will drive the market in 2013 as we continue the economic recovery. Consumers need to understand that Short Sales are much easier to get done, with less impact on the seller / borrower than even a year ago. We have had our best year ever and all signs point to another record year.

What has amazed me is the number of home buyers who are paying cash. I think that there is a large number of folks who have sold their previous home, put the money in the bank and are just waiting for the perfect house or situation to come along.

Ann Capps, RealtorAnn Capps, Realtor, Associate Broker, Avast Realty, LLC– We have heard lots of hype this year about how much better the real estate market is as compared to last year.  When we look at bottom lines, there has been a 6% increase in sales over last year and a roughly 6% increase in average sales price over last year.  Well, that really doesn’t seem like much !!  But I can say this…My business has been GREAT this year !!!
If we dig a bit deeper into the stats, we can see why.
Sales volume in my local areas have actually increased substantially.  Here are the showstoppers:
30%-Hoover (Shelby County)
26%-Cahaba Heights
15%-Helena (Shelby County)

When it comes to a decrease in sales volume, we tend to see this in

our more rural areas.  Topping the list are:
50%-West Jefferson Area
22%-Harpersville Area
21%-Hayden Area
11%-Warrior Area

September brought a decrease in sales of almost 10% as compared to last year.  And October brought a decrease of almost 4%.  Overall, I don’t see this changing in November or December. But as I said…My business has been GREAT.  So I have no doubt that November and December will finish my year with a bang !

Charita CadenheadCharita H. Cadenhead, Bham WIiRE Realty, LLC The metro Birmingham housing market has experienced a great year as compared to last year.  With the exception of July 2012, every month this year has garnered more homes sales than the same period last year.  To me, that is quite impressive considering that other areas of the country are not even considered as being “in recovery.”  However, it is well known that real estate experiences ebbs and flows and although October sales have not been reported yet, I think (as usual) we’ll begin to see an ebb in sales as the holiday season approaches.
Around this time of year, homeowners are hesitant to put their homes on the market for fear that not many people will be looking for a home to purchase as the holiday season kicks off.  What homeowners fail to realize is that listing a home at this time of the year gives them the ultimate advantage of having less competition.  That’s right…….with fewer homes on the market at the start of and through the holiday season, means that homeowners are in a prime position to attract more buyers.  Consider this:  if home owners live in a community that is overwhelmed with listings during the spring and summer…….then a home buyer may make a home buying decision without ever getting to see many of the homes that meet their criteria (just too many choices).  However, with fewer available homes on the market, in any given neighborhood, homeowners can expect that a greater percentage of buyers will be viewing their homes.

I think that the remainder of 2012 will see a decline in sales which is normal this time of year.  But for the “opportunist” home seller, they will be among the lucky few to have a “SOLD” sign in the year by year’s end.

David BlackDavid Black, Keller Williams Realty Metro South– For the nearly eight years we have been in business, 2012 has been our strongest sales year ever.  We have frequently found ourselves giving consumers a different view of market activity than they seemed to be expecting when they ask us, “are you managing to survive?”  We attribute this discrepancy to the large amount of media coverage about residential sales that has been generally pessimistic in nature, but which offers little in the way of tangible information that more accurately reflects Shelby Co./Birmingham area market conditions.

The year has been productive for us, both on the buying and listing side.  I do not concur,though, with the perception some have that values are quickly rebounding.  For many of the Listing sales we closed this year, Seller nets were modest at best, and often, still negative (in one of our most recent sales, the Seller wrote a check for over $7,500 at closing).
What I feel is happening is that values are more in a process of leveling off from previous downward slides.  Even though we have seen a substantial drop in inventory in many of the areas we service, we still see Buyers continuing to benefit from motivated Sellers.

My sense is that the remainder of the year will not be substantially different.  Despite perceptions that sales often fall off sharply in November and December, we have seen strong sales during the last two months of some previous years (when the weather was not severely cold).  Economic and election jitters aside, 2012 for us will be a year we will look back on with satisfaction and gratitude.  The success we’ve enjoyed during ’12 has us inspired.  We look ahead to ’13 with optimism and are anxious to build on this year’s momentum.

From an appraisers viewpoint I can say that 2012 has been one of my best years. I believe that the increase in sales mentioned by the agents has contributed to that. Appraisals for home purchases has exceeded those for refinances this year. In addition, both real estate agents and homeowners are becoming more realistic about what their home can sell for. Many want to find out ahead of time, with a pre-listing appraisal, what the market says they can get for their home. When the home is priced competitive with the market it will sell faster and for closer to it’s list price. What are you seeing in your area? Leave me a message below, I would like to hear from you.

If you have any real estate appraisal related questions you can call me at 205.243.9304, email me, or connect with me on Facebook., Twitter, or Youtube.



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