Abernathy’s home, and the four acres, lake and mountainous view that came with it, sold within a week.
“Our main goal was to sell it without losing money and we definitely didn’t lose money,” Abernathy said with a laugh.
Home sales in Calhoun County and across the state increased in January compared to the same month last year. The increase was the latest in a trend of home sales improvement the last few months that has some experts optimistic the worst of the 2008 housing market crash is in the past.
“I’m seeing signs of improvement,” said Joey Crews of Keller Williams Realty in Anniston. “I have over 15 houses pending now and I think sales increases are going to continue.”
According to the Alabama Center for Real Estate, statewide home sales increased 17.6 percent from the same month last year. Also, about 76 percent of local markets reported an improvement in sales in January. The organization states that January represents the seventh consecutive month that Alabama home sales have improved when compared to the same month the prior year.
In Calhoun County, 66 houses were sold in January, an increase from 60 houses sold in the same month last year. Calhoun County has had three straight months of sales increases when compared to the same month the prior year.
“Things are getting better … I think we are coming off the bottom,” said Shad Williams, president and CEO of Cheaha Bank. “More people are wanting mortgages.”
Williams said his bank recently increased its secondary market mortgage department from two to four employees due to the jump in demand for mortgages.
Everett King, of ERA King Real Estate in Anniston, said his company experienced significant improvements – with sales increasing 60 percent in January compared to the same month last year. King noted the improvement is particularly significant since January is typically a bad month for home sales.
“Typically December or January is the worst month and that has to do more with the weather than anything,” King said.
King said the improvement in home sales is tied to recent improvements in the economy and in consumer confidence.
“People are thinking, ‘I’ve made it to March 2012 without losing my job so I’m doing good,’” King said. “There is probably not a lot of fear about losing jobs, I think it is as simple as that.”
Crews agreed with King that more people were gaining confidence in the market.
“We’ve all lived in this economy in the past four years that people have been afraid to buy a house,” he said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate decreased to 8.3 percent in January – the lowest rate in nearly three years. Calhoun County’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent in December from 7.9 percent in November. January numbers for the county are not yet available.
Matt Moses, now of Lincoln, sold his one-story Jacksonville home last week because his wife finished her nursing degree and got a job. Like Abernathy’s, his home sold rather quickly – within two months. According to the Alabama Center for Real Estate, Calhoun County homes stayed on the market an average of 130 days.
“I stuck to my price pretty hard … it went real smooth,” Moses said. “I’m very pleased with it.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star