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Local housing market: where to get the most value for your dollar

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Birmingham metro real estate market is in overdrive. For months we’ve watched home prices rise and experts say there’s no sign it will stop soon.

Traditional locations where buyers could get more house for their money in the area are no longer an obvious choice.

“There’s no way to say where you can get a good value right now or get affordable housing, because it’s all gotten quite expensive”, explained Jan Collier of Arc Realty.

The price hike is being driven by a national housing shortage. From 1960 to 2020, there were around 12 million new homes built each decade. From 2010 to 2020 that number sharply dropped by half.

“Right now we just have so many more buyers and so little inventory, really like zero inventory”, Collier added. “On average houses stay on the market maybe three days.”

The average selling price for homes in Jefferson and Shelby Counties is nearly $35,000 higher compared to this time last year.

“To get that deal of a lifetime, is that possible right now”, asked Joy Groce, of Avast Realty. “Not that I’ve seen. It all comes down to how much you are willing to spend.”

In turn, buyers are bidding top dollar for homes that are move in ready and others that need significant updates.

“It doesn’t even really have to be in great condition, I hate to say that”, noted Collier. “If it’s in super good condition, if it’s updated - it goes the first day with multiple offers and over list price.”

Some sellers receive upwards of a dozen offers. Both Collier and Groce have more than forty years of combined local real estate experience, the prevalence of cash offers is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Popular listings often receive multiple cash offers, which typically go to the top of the bid list.

“The cash offer is a Goliath of the whole thing”, Groce added. “That’s our main competition. I’ve seen sellers choose a finance offer over a cash offer, but that doesn’t happen very often.”

Despite higher prices overall, Groce believes buyers can still get more house for their money in Shelby County.

“If they don’t want to go south, I would probably bring up Odenville”, Groce mentioned. “Because that’s a location where you can get more house for your money as well.”

Both Groce and Collier encourage buyers and sellers to act now, noting home prices and interest rates will both continue to rise.

“If you’re in a situation where you want to sell your house and downsize, now is a great time to sell your house because you’re going to get the most money”, said Collier.

It’s difficult to forecast what’s ahead for the local and national housing markets. The industry is largely leaning on newly constructed homes to help alleviate the housing shortage, however the building industry is plagued by exorbitant building material costs.

That need for additional housing is compounded by the growing number of millennials that are soon expected to enter the market.

New studies indicate there are 66 million millennials from 25 to 37 years old in the country and the majority have not purchased a home

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