According to the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s latest affordability index, the median home sale price in the county increased by $11,992 between the third and second quarters of the year. Some real estate experts say increased demand and shrinking inventory are the driving factors that show the market is improving.
“Overall, sales have picked up,” said Chuck Ward, real estate agent with Billy Isom Realty in Oxford.
The Center for Real Estate’s numbers also showed the county’s third quarter median home sale price was $3,709 higher than during the same quarter last year — a further sign of the market’s improvement.
Everett King of ERA King Real Estate in Anniston said demand for housing has picked up in the area as inventory has decreased, which has caused a bump in prices.
“Prices have to go up for the economy to churn up and things to pick up,” King said.
King said while rising prices might not be that great for buyers, they are good for sellers and the market as a whole. King said much of the business in the housing market comes not from first-time buyers or new homes but from people selling their homes to move into another one.
“Every time a house is sold it creates one-and-a-half jobs,” King said. “A seller can now get out of a home … the last few years people have been forced to wait to sell.”
Ward said that while increased sales are important, what is more important is that those sales do not consist mainly of foreclosed homes. After the housing market crash in 2008, foreclosed homes glutted the market, depressing prices and making many peoples’ homes worth less than they originally paid for them.
Ward said the rising home prices of the last few months could indicate that fewer people are buying foreclosed homes.
“But more owner-occupied homes are being sold now, which is a good sign,” Ward said.
Joey Crews of Keller Williams Realty in Anniston has also seen home sale prices increase in the last few months.
“If anybody is waiting for things to hit rock bottom, it’s already hit and it’s on its way back up,” Crews said of the housing market.
Still, despite the rise in home prices, a home in Calhoun County is much more affordable than in many other counties in the state. According to the Alabama Center of Real Estate, Calhoun County’s affordability index was 267.3 in the third quarter of the year — making it the fourth-most affordable housing market in the state.
The affordability index is based off a point system — the higher the score, the more affordable the housing market. An index of 100 means a family earning the state’s median income has just enough buying power to qualify for a loan on the state’s median-priced, single family home. Calhoun County’s score means a family earning the state’s median income has more than double the buying power necessary for median-priced, single family home.
Markets with higher affordability indexes than Calhoun County include those in Etowah, Marshall and Monroe counties.
Ward said there are still quite a few foreclosed homes in the market now that are keeping home prices from rising even more.
“I’ve got 21 foreclosures in the pre-listing stage that’s not even in the market,” Ward said. “That’s a lot of foreclosures.”
To possibly stimulate the market more, Keller Williams Realty on Dec. 9 will host a large open house event of 40 homes for sale in mainly the Oxford and Jacksonville areas.
“There are still a lot of houses available, it’s still a buyer’s market,” Crews said. “But if they’re going to choose, they’d better do it before too long because prices are rising.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.