Pandemic impacts on North Alabama leave long-term hurdles for housing industry

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Data from the last quarter continues to show record home sale numbers as well as record low inventory across the northern region of Alabama. Despite this trend, which predates the pandemic, there are COVID-19 impacts on the market.

Interest rates are at some of the lowest points ever while supply costs are only getting higher. Labor availability is also a serious problem.

Still, last quarter 2,621 houses sold across North Alabama compared to 2,350 in 2019. The median sale price for a home stands at $254,991 compared to $221,778 this time last year. On average, houses are staying on the market a maximum of 19 days, half as long as last year according to data compiled by the UAH College of Business and the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors.

“We have demand, then we less lumber and we have less tradesman. Everybody is working like crazy,” said Cindi Peters-Tanner, the Chair of ValleyMLS.com

Peters-Tanner says the waitlist for new home builds is reaching up to 18-months. Not long ago, a lumber mill owner told News 19 that lumber estimates for a single home were rising and changing day by day because of production slow downs and excess projects brought on by the pandemic.

“The cost to build has gone up $16,000 for the same home,” said Peters-Tanner.

Lumber mills don’t see that price going down anytime soon. Peters-Tanner says construction prices could be passed down to buyers or new homes will start having less amenities.

“It used to be that you could go home, sleep on it. Talk it over. The next day put your offer in. We are not in that market right now. Right now is, if you love it, you need to be ready,” said Peters-Tanner.

With more people working from home, realtors are starting to see a shift in buyer interest.

“That doesn’t mean you need to live 15-minutes from your office anymore. You can spread out and go further out,” said Peters-Tanner.

Because distance is becoming less important, ValleyMLS.com recently added Birmingham-area listings to their Tennessee Valley-focused listing site.

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