Madison County Housing Market Booms Despite Pre-COVID Shortages

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the only things obstructing regional residential growth was the construction industry labor shortage and a desperate shortage of housing inventory. 

Still, during the pandemic, there is nothing – at least nothing new – slowing the residential housing market in North Alabama. Not a virus, not consumers, not builders, not banks, not regulation, and not the economy.

Home-buying and homebuilding are booming.

“We have sold more homes in 2020 than were sold at the same time in 2019,” said Josh McFall, CEO of the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors. “Even amidst the stress of a pandemic and busy housing market there was no slow down, and in fact, the only thing the association has seen take a downturn is housing inventory.

“I don’t even think we can classify the inventory problem as directly related to the pandemic. Beginning in January, we reported the lowest number of homes available for sale in the MLS since the MLS has been keeping track of those records in the mid-1990s.

“Madison County has been the big driver of that because we have the most MLS listings due to the denser population. Inventory is low, but we consistently slide down the entire MLS because our average days on market has also slid down.”

He said the days on market number for North Alabama combined is 42 days but, in Madison County, that number is 26 days and consistently falling.

“I remember five years ago we were reporting 80 or 90 days on the market and here in 2020 and during a pandemic, as of June that number is 26 days,” he said. “So, we had this housing shortage before COVID.”

Last month, around 840 homes were sold in Madison County. Of those, 600 were resales and 230 were new construction. Those 230 are either new construction, a prospect build that was sold, or a custom build that entered the MLS.

“So, what we are saying is, more builders are feeling more confidence in the local economy, so they’re ramping up their building, while at the same time, they have a lot of pressure on them due to the labor shortage and rising supply costs,” McFall said. “But if you look at all the MLS to date, there were 2,307 available homes on the entire market; 926 are in Madison County.”

One-third of houses under construction sell every month so the industry must build a lot of houses to keep up with demand, 

“Sales prices are continuing to tick up from month to month so you can see it is a supply and demand issue,” said McFall.

How are people feeling about buying or building a home during a global pandemic? 

Apparently, completely unfettered.

“Buying a home during COVID-19 was almost no different than our previous purchases,” said David Fields. He and his wife Meredith bought a home right around the highpoint of the pandemic this spring. “Our Realtor was very supportive and took all the necessary precautions including the use of PPE and social distancing. Overall, it was a great experience.”

“We’re getting lots of activity on the housing side of our business,” said Joey Ceci, president of the Breland Companies. Breland’s commercial division is developing the 525-acre Town Madison off I-565.

“At Pike Place at Clift Farm off Balch Road in Madison we already have several townhouses built and sold,” Ceci said. “At Town Madison, they are getting calls from people who are downsizing and who want to get away from a large yard and out from underneath the maintenance of a large house.” 

While Breland builds a variety of housing products, they also contract with homebuilders such as Regent Homes of Nashville. Regent built homes at the Village of Providence and is building The Heights District at Town Madison.

Ceci said all Breland developments, whether they are cottages, single-family homes, or townhouses, are continuing to go up all over North Alabama. The Ledges of Oakdale in Athens, Meadowbrook in Cullman, and The Retreat in Meridianville are selling quickly, while Pebble Creek at River Landing in Madison is sold out.

“The impact on the economy with all these houses being built and sold are keeping home values up for existing homeowners,” Ceci said. “It’s good for our local economy too to be able to say we are not just swapping houses. We were pretty sure all these people would be moving here to take jobs with the FBI and Toyota, and now they are here. There are a lot of new people coming into the area.”

Stone Martin Builders who has developed Celia’s Garden, Allen Acres and Copper Creek in Huntsville, has continued to build throughout the pandemic, according to sales manager Ashley Durham, despite hurdles caused by supply shortages and subcontractor delays. 

“The labor shortage is the building industry’s greatest challenge currently and it has a direct impact on low inventory,” said Durham.  

One of the ways they are addressing the problem is to build strong relationships with subcontractors to help them grow their companies alongside their own.  

“As a growing company, Stone Martin Builders finds value in helping our business partners grow and become great so we can in turn, overcome all types of industry challenges together,” Durham said. “That in addition to seeking opportunities with local technical programs to enhance the workforce, we are all helping each other.” 

One of those technical programs is the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy started by the Huntsville-Madison County Builders Association to address the problem and they have already graduated their second class, even during the pandemic.

The North Alabama Homebuilding Academy trains people to be a homebuilder. Upon graduation, they can work as a contractor in training or in one of the ancillary trades. It was an 18-month endeavor but since January, the Academy has graduated 47 students.

According to Barry Oxley, Executive Officer of the HMCBA, the gap in skilled construction and construction-related labor goes back 30 years to the No Child Left Behind Act when school systems retooled education.

“There was for a long time, the idea that you have to go to college to be successful and as schools began to do away with trade school classes, a stigma developed around trades that said you were not meant for college,” said Oxley. “But the construction industry is made up of a lot of small businesses. If you are a skilled plumber, electrician, window or flooring installer or masonry expert, you do quite well.”

The Academy’s focus is on the 30 percent of school kids who are not able or do not want to go to college. 

The program is an eight-week session with a cap of 18 to 20 students. The fourth session started in early July with 19 students and every class through September is booked to capacity.

“We have been talking about the labor shortage for a long time, so we decided to do something about it,” said Oxley. “They apply through our website and we invite them to an open house. We have been doing those virtually since the shutdowns started.

“We send them an invitation to sign up for a class. It does not cost them anything to attend and we back up the classes with ongoing job fairs where we bring in employers who hire our students. These students are going from minimum wage jobs to making $14 to $16 an hour.”

“We will always strive to build homes efficiently and with great quality … and we will continually seek to find growth opportunities for our organization in the North Alabama market to help offset the housing shortage,” said Stone Martin’s Durham. “We are still accomplishing this goal and our customers remain positive.

“We keep them informed of any affects the pandemic will have on the construction process, and there has been very little disruptions in our builds, so customers continue to be eager and excited about their new home.”

Durham believes it is the commitment their company made to colleagues, customers, and the building team to support one another throughout the crisis. The minute COVID-19 began to challenge the building industry, Stone Martin Builders acted. 

“We identified fellow business owners that may be negatively impacted by the pandemic, and we found ways to become their patrons,” she said. “Many of these business owners were Stone Martin buyers, and we believe it is our duty to give back when we have the ability to do so.”

Some of the steps they took included renting tents from an event resource company whose events had been cancelled. 

“To offset their losses, we used these tents for outdoor closings and information gathering stations to offset the cancellation of open houses in North Alabama,” she said. “Our goal was to find ways to use the product of a struggling customer to help offset the struggles we were having.” 

Durham said some of their processes with customers also changed.

“Upon our first meeting with a customer, we seek to understand the ‘Why?’ they are building a new home,” she said. “COVID changed that process slightly in that we now need to understand how a homeowner is going to function in their new home. 

“COVID is requiring the home be multi-functional and that looks different for every homeowner.”

For instance, they see an increase in the need for home offices, quiet rooms for schooling or reading, functional kitchens with people cooking at home more, and good natural light for being home in day time hours.

“We are creating home plans that meet those needs,” said Durham. 

“We continue to see high demand for housing in Madison County, and especially in Madison,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “The City instituted a Growth Impact Committee in 2017 that documented inventory and anticipated growth. Using this data, the Madison School Board, supported by the City Council, defined 12 mills as the proper number for managing this growth via the property tax referendum.”

The mill rate is the amount of tax payable per dollar of the assessed value of a property.

“This passed in September 2019 and we are now building the needed schools to manage the growth,” he said. 

To support this managed growth, the Madison City Council formulated and instituted a Growth Policy in mid-2019. Town Madison’s residential growth was factored into the Growth Impact Committee’s study and they continue to build out both the residential and retail portions. 

A new townhouse development on Kyser Boulevard is a perfect example of how managed growth can work for all parties. 

“The developer focused on providing 366 townhouse units on industrial property,” Finley said. “Our growth policy dictated that the only way we would change this zoning was if significant city objectives were achieved. 

“Working with the developer and schools, we defined two significant objectives: connecting Westchester Road to Kyser Boulevard allowing school buses a more direct and safer route to Sullivan Street; and extending the Bradford Creek Greenway from Palmer to historic downtown. These two objectives are estimated to cost $4,000,000 and will now be built and paid for by the developer. 

“The developer also agreed to spread the building out to eight years with a 50 unit maximum per year and will not include second stories or a swimming pool, keeping their focus on non-school age purchasers.”

“If you think back 10 years to the recession, Huntsville was not hit as hard as some places, but some of the bigger builders either scaled down or consolidated,” said McFall. “You may notice tracts of land still sitting empty in the back of neighborhoods that were built out for new homes in 2009 and 2010.

“Now they are exploding because builders have bought them. You can drive all over town and see construction in neighborhoods where one builder built the homes in one section of the development, but another builder is completing it. 

“The bottom line is people need a place to live, whether they are moving up or moving down. Marry that with the best interest rates seen in the mortgage industry in a long time, it explains the good housing numbers.”

Force Majeure: An Unexpected Legal Side Effect of Coronavirus

If you are a person who never reads the fine print of a contract, you have probably never heard of a force majeure clause.

However, that clause in every commercial contract for the past century may be worth reading for those suffering the economic hardships caused by coronavirus and the economic shutdown.

That relatively short paragraph in a commercial lease offers a glimpse into why all that fine print is important, and many business owners are discovering they can take shelter in its words.

Broadly written and mostly ignored until now, force majeure essentially says the contract you are signing is not enforceable in the event of a declaration of war or an act of nature.

In the past, what exactly constitutes an act of nature has been a bit unclear and some businesses are vowing to fight it in the courts, while many businessowners are justly using the force majeure to say, “Wait a minute. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and I am being forced to close my business due to circumstances outside my control. I am activating my force majeure clause in response to my inability to pay the rent.”

As a result, commercial developers, property managers, and businesses who lease space to another business are getting their first look at post-coronavirus lease contracts.

What used to be a short, single paragraph is coming back a page or more in length, clarifying in detail, what exactly constitutes an act of nature. In addition to global pandemic, which is meticulously explained, these contracts are also allowing for events of civil unrest and riots.

As one landlord put it, the force majeure is now a lot more iron clad and landlords are going to have to go along with it.

While most businesses are willing to work with tenants on situations where they cannot pay the rent, and essentially defer the collection process until solutions can be found, it is now more than ever a choice about what the two parties will and won’t negotiate to reach a solution.

The force majeure is being expanded to try and clarify all circumstances that uphold that argument.

One example is that of a knee surgeon who isn’t allowed to perform knee surgeries because they are shut down for six weeks. Clearly there is no money coming in to pay the rent.

Some of these longer force majeures are written to say, if you close the hospital to elective surgeries, I will need to forego payments for six months or until the hospital reopens and I am able to offer services.

Force majeure is just one of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus that will be with us for a long time.

Middleburg Communities Breaks Ground on 290-Unit Apartment Community in Cummings Research Park

Middleburg Communities has broken ground on Mosby Bridge Street, a 290-unit apartment development in Cummings Research Park. Construction on the community at 320 Voyager Way is expected to be completed April 2022 with leasing starting in May 2021.

“Mosby Bridge Street is another excellent example of utilizing our extensive research capabilities to identify prime locations surrounded by significant population and employment growth,” said Chris Finlay, Managing Partner of Middleburg Communities.  “By executing through our fully integrated team of development, construction, property management, and investment management, we are able to deliver better value to our residents and increased returns to our investment partners.”

Once completed, the property will be self-managed by Middleburg Communities, a Virginia-based real estate investment, development, construction and management firm.

“Middleburg is very excited to start this transformative development in what has become the fastest growing tech city in the U.S. and within Cummings Research Park, the second largest research park in the country,” said Middleburg Communities Vice President of Development Alexi Papapieris. “Mosby Bridge Street is our first investment in the Huntsville area and this property exceeded our most exacting standards, demonstrating strong job and population growth, a highly educated STEM workforce, new major employment hubs underway and immediate access to amenities, recreation and transportation corridors.”

Mosby Bridge Street will offer residents one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments in four, four-story, elevator-served buildings with controlled access, conditioned corridors.

The development will feature Middleburg Communities’ Local Heroes program, which honors firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and public school teachers by providing them with a rent discount for a select number of units.

Residents will be walking distance from the Bridge Street Town Centre and the community is enveloped by Cummings Research Park, home to a hub of science, technology, tech, space and defense companies, business incubators and higher education institutions.

The 3,800-acre CRP is home to nearly 300 companies in total and more than 30,000 employees and students. This is in addition to another 36,000 jobs at nearby Redstone Arsenal, which includes multiple Army commands, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the FBI’s new $1 billion campus focused on cybersecurity.

Huntsville Housing Sales Up Nearly 15% Over Year Ago

Though the number of house available for sale is the lowest in years, Huntsville residential sales for the first quarter of this year was nearly 15 percent higher than the first quarter of 2019.

The sales, according to the quarterly report from the Alabama Center for Real Estate, for the first quarter totaled 1,801 units, representing an increase of 14.9 percent when compared to 1,567 units sold in the first quarter of 2019.

“Compared to historical data, first quarter sales are 20.1 percent above the three-year quarterly average and 31.1 percent above the five-year quarterly average,” the report said.

The number of houses available for sale in the first quarter was 845 – a 32.5 percent decrease compared to the first quarter of 2019, when 1,252 houses were available.

And, not only did sales increase, so did the median and average prices – thanks to the low inventory.

The median selling price in Huntsville for the first quarter of 2020 was $233,688, a 12.2 percent increase from the first quarter of 2019’s median selling price of $208,333. The average sales price for the first quarter was $261,455, an 11 percent increase from the first quarter of 2019’s average sales price of $235,610.

“Compared to historical data, the fourth quarter median sales price is 21.1 percent above the three-year quarterly average and 28.3 percent above the five-year quarterly average,” the report said. “The fourth quarter average sales price is 20 percent above the three-year quarterly average and 26.4 percent above the five-year quarterly average.”

The houses that were available, weren’t on the market long, either. The average number of days on the market in the first quarter of 2020 was 40, representing an improvement of 15 days from one year ago.

Construction of Luxury Housing Continues as B’ham Developer Breaks Ground Near MidCity

As the worst of the COVID-19 crisis seems to be waning in North Alabama, new jobs, new construction, and plans for a new luxury living development pick up right where they left off in March.

Birmingham developers Capstone Communities broke ground on The Cottages at Old Monrovia, a 25-acre housing development near Old Monrovia Road and Oakwood Road, about a mile from Huntsville’s MidCity district. The rentals will feature a mixture of single-story attached homes, lofts and two-story townhomes.

“Our goal is to build a unique community and true sense of place at The Cottages,” said John Acken, executive vice president of development for Capstone Communities. “With plenty of sidewalks, pedestrian features and open green spaces, we want to create a safe and walkable community where residents can look forward to spending time outside enjoying cookouts, hosting community events and connecting with their neighbors.”

Capstone Communities estimates the project will bring 100 to 120 temporary and permanent jobs to the area in construction in management.

Convenient to Cummings Research Park and Redstone Arsenal, the low-density multifamily development consists of 275 cottage-style homes, expected to attract young professionals and their families, and empty-nesters looking to downsize.

Capstone Properties, the in-house management company for Capstone Communities, will begin leasing this fall. The first units are expected to be completed in March 2021 with the full completion slated for September 2021.

Architect’s rendition of the loft-style home at The Cottages.

Designed by Nequette Architecture & Design, also headquartered in Birmingham, The Cottages at Old Monrovia will offer a variety of upscale amenities such as nine to 12-foot ceilings, granite countertops, wood-grain flooring, in-unit washers and dryers, a smart home technology package, state-of-the-art fitness center, resort-style pool, centralized clubhouse, dog park, electric car charging stations, a car care center, a pet spa, 24/7 on-call maintenance and optional enclosed garage parking.

Capstone Communities (formerly Capstone Collegiate Communities) is a Birmingham-based commercial real estate firm specializing in the development, management and construction of student, multifamily and senior housing. They entered into a partnership with OG Capital, a private equity real estate investment firm specializing in the acquisition and re-positioning of existing multi-family properties throughout the South, to bring the development to Huntsville.

According to OG Capital principal David Oakley, the single-family style rentals have proven successful in other markets with a 50 percent faster lease-up period, and a 20 percent higher resident retention rate than traditional garden-style apartments.

“I first noticed this cottage concept out West a few years ago and grew to love it,” said Oakley. “Apartment living doesn’t have to mean stairs and elevators. The cottage style product meets the market by providing residents with the features they value most – private backyards, high ceilings and in-home tech packages – to name a few.”

It is Huntsville’s surge in innovation and economic growth that makes Huntsville the perfect location, said Shep Nolen, president of CBI Construction Services, Capstone Communities’ in-house general contractor for the project.

“We’re thrilled to enter such a promising market and support the city’s economic development efforts by creating additional jobs as Huntsville prepares for its next chapter of growth.”

Construction financing is being provided by Trustmark National Bank and Renasant Bank.

Henry House at Clift Farm Community Breaks Ground

MADISON — There is a lot of plowing and tilling of soil going on at Clift Farm this week, but they aren’t planting cotton.

Henry House at Clift Farm features a community event and club room, game room, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Instead, the Breland Companies announced that SWH Partners and Watercress Partners have planted the seeds of a luxury apartment community on the landmark development along U.S. 72 across from the Madison Hospital and Target Center.

The 273-unit Henry House at Clift Farm is perched on the banks of Knox Creek on the Balch Road gateway into the new Clift Farm development.

Named after the 19th century founder of the Clift family farm, John Henry Clift, it will feature stunning scenic views and miles of pedestrian trails that connect Clift Farm’s 470 acres of residential neighborhoods to its curated Main Street mix of retail and dining options.

A garden-style community that fits the countryside feel of the iconic farmland, Henry House at Clift Farm will feature outdoor kitchens, a saltwater swimming pool with sunning decks, pet spa and off-leash park, community event and club room, game room, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Offering one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans, Henry House is styled with warm plank floors, tile backsplashes, granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, and oversized walk-in closets.

Breland broke ground on Clift Farm last May after purchasing the farmland from centenarian owner Jack Clift.

With his blessing, the pedestrian-friendly residential community, park, and retail center is the latest upscale commercial and residential development for Breland, which is also developing Town Madison off Interstate 565 at Zierdt Road.

Financed by Bank of America, Henry House at Clift Farm is expected to be completed by spring 2021.

Reserve at Research Park Apartments Sold for Reported $81 Million

Symbolic of the growth in Huntsville and its anticipated growth, a nearly 35-year-old apartment community was recently purchased for a reported $81 million.

According to a news release from The Kirkland Company, a Nashville-based brokerage firm, the Reserve at Research Park was purchased by Covenant Capital Group from B&M Management. The acquisition is the largest transaction in the area’s history, according to the brokerage firm.

Eric Hardesty and Wade Lowry brokered the sale of the 736-unit multifamily community for Kirkland. The property, formerly known as Rime Village, was built in several phases from 1987-94.

“Huntsville is receiving national attention for its rapid growth, strong economy, and recent development,” said Hardesty. “It has been Alabama’s fastest-growing city over the last 15 years and will soon be the largest city in the state.”

B&M Management of Montgomery sold the property on Explorer Boulevard off University Drive to Covenant Capital Group, a Nashville-based value-add investment manager. Its focus is on the acquisition and renovation of apartment communities in major Southeastern and mid-Atlantic markets.

B&M Management has been in Alabama for more than 25 years with a portfolio of some 8,500 units and $1 billion in market value.

This is the sixth transaction brokered by Kirkland in the Huntsville area within the last nine months, representing 1,842 units and more than $103 million.

“Employers are investing big in Huntsville,” said Lowry. “Companies like Toyota, Boeing, GE … are infusing capital into the engineering and manufacturing industries.

“The FBI is investing $1 billion at Redstone Arsenal with plans to add 4,000 jobs, and tech companies like Facebook and Google are also developing a presence there.”

Nashville-based Kirkland specializes in selling apartment communities in nine states across the Southeast.

‘Super Block’ Along University Drive Getting $27 Million Facelift

A welcomed and long-awaited facelift is coming to a stretch of one of Huntsville’s primary thoroughfares.

A 45-acre block off University Drive at Independence Drive and Lancewood Drive will be revitalized in a $27 million acquisition by  Philadelphia-based Penn Capital, an integrated private investment company.

The former GuestHouse Suites are part of the $27 million redevelopment project. (Image provided by Penn Capital)

The company has purchased the former GuestHouse Suites from the Huntsville Hospital Foundation as part of the acquisition. The project includes renovating and redeveloping three properties along University Drive across from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

In addition to the former GuestHouse Suites at 4020 Independence Drive, Penn Capital is revitalizing the former North Ridge Apartments and the Continental Apartments adjacent to it. The project totals 458 apartments along University Drive and creates a 45-acre “super block” of 546 apartments. It is strategically aimed at revitalizing the surrounding community, which has suffered from blighted conditions over the past 10 years.

According to Penn Capital founder Ed Rogan, the properties fit the company’s investment strategy to invest in Sun Belt markets from Texas to Florida where there is tremendous economic growth.

Penn Capital plans to invest $5 million to redevelop the former GuestHouse Suites at 4020 Independence Drive.

Penn Capital wanted to come into Huntsville, he said, because of the job growth around the new Toyota production plant, and the aerospace and military presence.

“We look for projects in good areas or even areas that have had some distress issues like these three properties,” Rogan said. “A lot of people would have passed on this project because it isn’t visually appealing, but we have a vision where our work revitalizes the community and surrounding neighborhood and improves the standard or living and quality of life for people.”

Just two miles east of the MidCity Huntsville project, the former North Ridge Apartments complex has been renamed Madison Grove. It consists of 105 buildings and 390 apartments, all two-story townhouses.

“The buildings are in good condition, well built in the mid-1960s,” Rogan said. “They have solid foundations and great structures, but it had become known for a lot of crime.

“We came in and secured the premises by putting up a fence and security cameras to keep out trespassers, put in new lighting to light up the grounds, and the police department hired off-duty police officers to patrol the property. Then we began work improving and upgrading the exterior façade and doing some landscaping to give it curb appeal.”

Madison Grove includes 105 buildings and 390 apartments, all two-story townhouses. (Rendering provided by Penn Capital)

Rogan said they are working with Huntsville’s Blue Star Crime Free Multi-Housing Program to help residents, owners and the managers of rental properties to keep drugs and other illegal activity off their property.

“We are also renovating the interiors with all new appliances and the amenities required to take it from what was a D-class property with a lot of crime, deferred maintenance, and poor living conditions, to a safe and attractive Class-A property for middle class families,” he said.

Rogan said the property did not come without some challenges, however.

“Because of the age of the property, the structures are not up to today’s building codes and even the electrical infrastructure needs to be rewired,” he said.

But, they are working with the city to upgrade it.

“We have the same interests in that revitalization will increase the tax base tenfold, increase the quality of people living there, and create a safer living space,” Rogan said.

The former Continental Apartments will be renovated into The Ave. (Image provided by Penn Capital)

Penn Capital is doing the same with the Continental Apartments, which they have renamed The Ave. It is a two-story, 88-unit apartment community consisting of 66 studios and 22 two-bedroom/two-bath apartments.

“The Continental and hotel are vacant, so we have been able to move quickly to replace all the roofs and windows,” Rogan said. “We are doing a complete redevelopment with new exterior facades and landscaped grounds. It will have high quality, Class-A finishes that will attract higher-end tenants.”

He said the Continental is a unique building from the mid-1960s which was built to house visiting generals and high-ranking military officers who were visiting Redstone Arsenal.

He said they are well built with a good strong infrastructure, structural concrete and steel girders in the ceilings that can be used to increase ceiling height and create trendy styles like exposed-beam ceilings. It will become a smart property, fully outfitted with WiFi and a great opportunity for housing students and families.

Penn Capital plans to invest $5 million to redevelop the aging hotel at 4020 Independence Drive. The original extended-stay already has kitchens that will lend themselves well to studio apartments – a good fit for college students.

“The hotel has a 5,000 square-foot lobby on the first floor that we are renovating and putting in an exercise center, leasing office and clubhouse with a new swimming pool, outdoor kitchen and dog park,” Rogan said. “On the second floor, they are putting in a new shared workspace so people living in the surrounding complexes can come there and use the business center.”

Rogan said the work is expected to be completed on all three properties in about 10 to 12 months and a ribbon-cutting for all three is planned in about 18 months.

Huntsville Real Estate Market Ends 2019 on High Note

The Huntsville Real Estate Market set a record pace throughout 2019, ending the year on a high note, according to a report released today.

The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors’ Fourth Quarter Real Estate Economic Report, conducted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, found sales grew by more than 15 percent compared to the same quarter in 2018, with 1,995 homes sold in the quarter.

“We witnessed major growth in our industry last year, as more choose to make Madison County their home,” said HAAR President Sha Jarboe. “While this is great news for our city and industry, it also presents challenges as inventory reached historic lows in December with less than 1,000 available homes for sale.

“This report reinforces the need for attainable housing in our area and, as community advocates, Realtors stand ready to work with our local builders to make sure they have the skilled labor they need to meet our area’s construction needs. We also look forward to our continued collaboration with local leaders to support sensible laws that support the American dream of homeownership.”

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Prices of homes sold continued to rise significantly from 2018. Median sales price rose 11 percent to $239,643 and average sales price increased 7 percent to $258,014. The price escalation can be seen in the decline in the number of homes sold in the less-than $150,000 homes and significant increases in the $200,000-$250,000 (20.5 percent) and the greater-than-$350,000 range (18.5 percent).
  • Average monthly pending sales rose to 456, up 16.6 percent from the 2018 fourth-quarter level.
  • Inventory of homes available for sale fell to the lowest level since 2001 with only 993 homes listed at year’s end.
  • The average days on market for the quarter was 35 days, down from 38 in the third quarter and from 48 in the fourth quarter 2018. At this level of sales, there was an average of only 1.3 months of supply during the quarter.

For information and to see the full report and other reports, visit haar.realtor.

Bobo Development Closes Funding for Madison’s Alexandria Apartments

MADISON — As Bobo Development Group announces the closure of the funding phase of its multifamily luxury apartment development, residents are one step closer to having a new, “future-ready” place to call home.

The Florence-based investment group raised a total equity of $11.8 million, closing its funding phase last month.

The group plans to begin construction of Alexandria Apartments on a 16.54-acre site just west of Madison Medical Park on Balch Road no later than Jan. 31.

BDG entered into a joint venture partnership with Michigan-based Electrical Capital Partners and Florida-based Morrison Avenue Capital Partners. Blake Janover of Janover Ventures, Miami, Fla., helped source construction financing of $28.3 million from BancorpSouth. Birmingham-based Capstone Building Corp. will be the general contractor for the project.

Keeping in step with the area’s technologically advanced population, residents of Alexandria Apartments will enjoy a variety of “smart” amenities, such as cold storage lockers for grocery delivery services, electric vehicle charging stations, a “functional fitness” center, and resident programs focused on 360-degree whole health.

“The Huntsville Metro area is home to a multi-faceted population of professionals, a large percentage of them transplants. These people are looking for a living space that makes daily life a little easier while nurturing a community” said James Bobo, II, CEO of Bobo Development Group and the project’s developer.

“By creating a future-proofed space, the community our residents create can stand the test of time.”

Alexandria Apartments will include 258 units consisting of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments along with 29 garage units equipped with electric vehicle charging stations. It will also feature a dog park and clubhouse with a co-working space.

The total capitalization of the development will be $40.1 million, according to Bobo Development Group.

Visit bobofamilygroup.com.