Month: November 2013

Home Sales for Birmingham Increase by 12%


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, November 25, 2013

More good news for the Birmingham area real estate market: the number of homes sold in the Birmingham metro saw a bump of 12% in the month of October from October 2012. So far this year, home sales have gone up by 11%. Home prices have also gone up; October’s average price bumped up by 3%, while median prices have increased by 10% so far. We discussed earlier how the recovering Birmingham real estate market has been driven by lower unemployment, low interest rates, and fewer foreclosures. The fact that 21% of all home sales in October were foreclosures is an indicator that the city’s foreclosure inventory is falling fast enough to raise prices. Considering that the average home price increase over the past year was 12%, Birmingham is caught up with the rest of the pack. What This Means for Investors If you are waiting for a time that is ideal for buying single-family homes and turning them into rentals, now may be that time. The existing home market is driving the area’s latest real estate success and likely will continue to do so through 2014. Another factor that will play into successful real estate investments is the nature of the Birmingham market itself. Major institutional investors – the kind that purchase hundreds of properties across the country seemingly each month – simply aren’t coming to Birmingham in abundance to buy homes for a variety of reasons. That creates a far less competitive environment for smaller buyers who want to take advantage of growing communities and the “hidden gems” they possess. Birmingham is such a market, and with a high rate of home sales, there are plenty of opportunities to purchase a single-family home and convert it into an income-producing rental. If you want to learn more about how the latest statistics are in your favor for single-family home investment, contact gkhouses.com and call 205.940.6363.

What Birmingham Real Estate Trends Can We Expect in 2014?


Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, November 21, 2013

It’s getting close to the end of the year, and before we know it, Christmas will have come and gone and the ball will drop in Times Square to signal the beginning of 2014. Already, this year has seen remarkable improvement in the Birmingham real estate market. Prices are up; more homes have been sold; foreclosures are down; and investment dollars have poured into the area by the tens of millions, if not more. Without a doubt, most single-family home investors have had a great chance at substantial revenue this year. What, then, can we expect for 2014? Expect 2014 to be Similar to 2013 Those looking for a breakthrough, historic year in real estate across the country in 2014 will probably be disappointed, but unnecessarily; 2014 will most likely resemble 2013 in that we’ll see steady improvement and a definite recovery from the past few years. Single-Family Homes Will Dominate the Market Single-family homes and multi-family homes experienced a great 2013, especially in Birmingham. But some project that multi-family home activity will subside slightly in 2014 as fewer properties throughout the country will be constructed. In Birmingham, the vacancy rate is 11.6%, mostly due to inventory shortage. This is a hangover from the recession, which, at one point, saw a vacancy rate as high as 14.4% in 2010. There is an indication that housing vacancies are falling, which suggests more homes coming into the market as housing prices rise. For multi-family homes, like apartment complexes, there may not be enough new construction to counter. We’ll cover more indicators for 2014 as the new year draws near. If you want to learn more about the Birmingham real estate market and how a dedicated property manager can help, call gkhouses.com at 205.940.6363 today.

Alabama Real Estate Recovering: Where Does Birmingham Real Estate Rank?


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, November 18, 2013

Investors looking to Alabama for potentially lucrative options have several opportunities available, according to stats and figures from multiple sources released throughout the year. The latest – a report from CoreLogic – indicates that recovery for Alabama real estate is improving steadily as the state recovers from the worst real estate crash in recent memory. Nationwide, the average change in home prices over the past year stands at 12%. Alabama’s rate is modest compared to that number, coming in at just 3.3% – good for 38th in the country – but a few areas in the state show sustained and promising levels of growth. Take Birmingham, for example. Over the past year, according to CoreLogic, Birmingham metro home prices rose by 6.8%, over twice the state’s rate. Only one metro area – Anniston-Oxford – was higher, at 8.3%. And surprisingly, even high-growth areas like Huntsville, Auburn-Opelika and Dothan experienced negative price appreciation (-4.9%, -5.5%, and -6.1%, respectively). What factors are at play for Birmingham that are resulting in positive growth? For starters, demand in Birmingham has improved and outstripped the rest of the state – to the point where even the metro area’s ample supply has become constrained. Fewer homes were listed in Birmingham in September 2013 than a year ago, and the area only represents 23% of the state’s overall listings, down by 1%. Meanwhile, unemployment has dropped, interest rates still remain incredibly low, and foreclosures are down as well. Foreclosures and other distressed properties have been the main force pulling down prices in Huntsville and Dothan, but Birmingham has had a better year. Therefore, investors looking to Alabama for advantageous properties can find ample room for success in the Birmingham market, judging by the latest indicators. Property owners who want qualified and experienced Birmingham property managers can turn to gkhouses.com. Contact us today and call 205.940.6363.

Outside Investors Continue to Pour Money into Birmingham, AL Real Estate


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, November 16, 2013

Investors have been interested in Birmingham, AL real estate for years now, ever since those from outside the state began discovering the potential of the Magic City and the metro area in terms of economic recovery and future potential. Outside investment is a sign of strength for the area, and an indication that conditions in Birmingham are improving to the point where more investors are noticing and sizing up our city as a possibility for development. Case in point: It was announced today that a real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Indiana has a deal worth $307 million to purchase over two million square feet of retail properties across the Southeast – which includes a heavy portion coming to Trussville and Clay. Other deals and developments announced so far in 2013 alone include:

Michigan-based ROCO Real Estate LLC purchased two apartment complexes in Birmingham for $21 million in October;

ROCO announced plans for an additional purchase of 350 apartment units in December;

Denver-based Forum Real Estate Group purchased 270 apartment units in June for $10.25 million;

Homebuilder DR Horton announced plans to build 10 new communities in the Birmingham area.

Increased Development a Result of Improving Conditions As I covered previously, stats for the real estate market in Birmingham look promising – especially when compared to where we were a year ago. September stats from the Alabama Center for Real Estate suggest substantial yearly improvement in median selling price, average days on market, and the inventory-to-sales ratio for the surrounding market. Birmingham unemployment is down to 6% for August 2013, which is almost a full point lower than the 6.9% mark a year prior. Also, affordability for rentals is better than it has been in years. Investors have plenty of reasons to turn to the Magic City metro area. For more information on how you can take advantage of real estate in Birmingham, AL and the potential of the area, contact gkhouses.com and call 205-940-6363.

Three Tips to Save on Utilities This Winter


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, November 8, 2013

Winter is coming, and with a new season comes new threats to your bank account in the form of expensive utilities. You won’t spend as much money on air conditioning, but you’ll replace that with heating – which can be just as expensive. Plus, people tend to spend more time indoors during the winter, which further increases the cost of electricity for your home. Here are three tips you can use to save on utilities this winter. Open Your Blinds and Curtains One way to help heat your home is to take advantage of Mother Nature. On sunny days, open your blinds and curtains. Let the sun’s rays come into your home. You’ll help warm your home for free if you take advantage of natural heating. Lower Your Thermostat No one likes to hear it, but lowering your thermostat in the winter can save you a good amount of money on your heating bill. According to the Department of Energy, lowering your temperature by 10-15 degrees for eight hours can save 5% to 15% on your bill – which equals hundreds per year, not just in the winter time. If you have a programmable thermostat, the savings can be more easily obtained because you can program the temperature at a certain level for certain times of the day. Don’t Close Doors and Use Fans Contrary to what you may have heard, closing your doors can actually increase your utility bills by making it more difficult for air to flow through the house – which eventually pulls in outside air. Keep your doors open if you can, or see if you can install transfer grills in your doors. You can also use ceiling fans to transfer heat that radiates from your heating source throughout the room, much like they do in the summer with air conditioning. For more tenant advice, including tips you can use when buying renters insurance in Birmingham, AL, contact gkhouses.com today and call 205.940.6363.

Birmingham Real Estate Stats for September 2013


Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) releases stats on a monthly basis for Alabama and key areas within the state, including Birmingham. These real estate stats are helpful to real estate investors who want to know more about the Birmingham market, especially compared to a year ago. Here, I’ll take a look at median and average selling price, days on market, and total homes listed. Median Selling Price for Birmingham Homes Increases Annually Compared to the local real estate market in September 2012, the market one year later looks a lot stronger. The median selling price for the Birmingham metro area climbed by 3.13% annually, to $165,000 (up from $160,000. While the price actually declined by 2.37% from August, a yearly gain of 3.13% at this time suggests promise and is higher than the state average – which was -1.33%. The average selling price also grew by 11.78% yearly and climbed monthly, as well, by 1.93%. Average Days on Market Decrease Substantially In what is good news for sellers and investors alike, the average days a property in the Birmingham metro area spent on the market in September 2013 declined by 12.24% from September 2012. Fewer days on the market suggests a healthier, more vibrant market. Now, the average home is on the market for 86 days, which is the lowest of the state’s five metro markets. Fewer Total Homes Listed From September 2013 to September 2012, the number of total homes listed dropped by 3.61%, and 1.67% from August to September of this year. There were a total of 7,788 homes listed in the Birmingham metro area, representing 23% of the state’s total listings. That last figure was actually 24% a year ago. That puts the inventory to sales ratio for Birmingham at 7.6, lower than the state’s average of 9.5 and the second-lowest ratio for the state’s metro areas. If you want to learn more about Birmingham real estate and how it impacts your real estate investments, contact gkhouses.com and call 205.940.6363 today.