Tips for Navigating Alabama’s Summer Real Estate Market

Tips for Navigating Alabama’s Summer Real Estate Market

No one looks forward to summertime more than schoolchildren, teachers, and REALTORS®, but summer presents unique challenges as Alabama REALTORS® work to connect buyers and sellers before the onset of autumn.  The summer months bring out committed buyers working to secure a new home before the start of school in August and, according to the Alabama Economic and Real Estate Report for May 2023, there are an abundance of homes available. New listings in Alabama increased by 35.7% over last year.  Likewise, housing supply has increased by 58.8% compared to 2022.  With 11,195 active listings, that’s good news for many house hunters in Alabama who have a greater selection from which to choose.

There’s good news for sellers, too, in the stability of home values and the upward trend of sales prices.  According to the report, the median sales price in May 2023 was $227,876.  That’s the highest median sales price since last October. Homes are also selling faster.  The average number of days on market decreased in May to 50 days – down from a high of 78 days in January.

For everything there is a season and, for real estate, the months of June, July, and August have the most action, says  Those months historically account for up to 40 percent of annual real estate sales volume. Navigating summer market conditions, however, may call for a different approach. Here are some pro tips from Paige Mock, of ARC Realty, and Michelle Talbott Rogers, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Cooper & Co. Inc. REALTORS®.

“As a rule, when inventory is high, it’s a great time to buy,” said Wetumpka REALTOR® Paige Mock.  In my market, inventory is not yet high but I’m seeing a gradual increase.  As we see inventory increase, buyers should be ready to move.” She encourages buyers to establish a relationship with a lender to get pre-approved and to be ready to make a decision. “I love working with local lenders. When I see the name of a reputable local lender, my confidence level increases.,” she said.   Mock emphasized that she works with all lenders including the large national mortgage lenders.  

Mock finds that marketing homes during summer months is a bit easier. “I definitely think we need to capitalize on how pretty things are in the south this time of year. Curb appeal is at its best with everything green and lush,” she explained.  Since people shop for homes online now, summer photos are critical.  “The cover photo is their first look and you want people to go past that first glance.  We have to put our best shot out there,” she said.

One summer challenge, says Mock, are clients on a tight timeline. “In our market we have a huge influx of military families who are purchasing a home or selling. A lot of times in we have clients who will be moving students from one school system to another.  In general, people need to be pre-approved for a mortgage and prepared to make a decision.  Time is of the essence.”

Mobile REALTOR® Michelle Talbott Rogers doesn’t see a great inventory increase in her market. She does, however, find she now has more time to prepare a market analysis for clients and hire a photographer. “In 2021 and 2022, it was very stressful for the buyer because you couldn’t get a sale to go through, and sellers were overwhelmed with offers.  Now, Rogers can work with buyers and sellers. “I have to sit down with a seller and explain we’re not in the 2021 market,” she said. “Interest rates are higher.” Rogers also urges buyers to make their highest and best offer.  “They hear prices are down nationally and think they can offer less. In our market, if you’re in the under $300,000 range and it’s priced right, you’re looking at multiple offers.  If you’re a buyer and you find something you like, don’t go home and sleep on it. Make your offer.”

“Sellers often call and are ready to list immediately.  I encourage them to get their house ready first and don’t price it too high.” Alabama’s summer climate presents unique challenges for sellers.  Rogers suggests that sellers get an air conditioning professional to evaluate their system before it goes on the market and keep a copy of a good evaluation on the kitchen counter. “Keep the house cool for showings,” she said.  “If a potential buyer walks in and the house feels stuffy, it leaves a bad impression.”

Another summer challenge is keeping the house tidy with kids home from school – especially with an hour’s notice for a showing. Rogers encourages sellers to have a plan. “You’ve chosen to move and put your house on the market,” Rogers said. “It’s competitive and sometimes inconvenient. I work with a lot of relocation clients and they may have only one time they can look.  That might be the buyer for your home.”  

“Real estate is and always has been about testing the market,” said Rogers. “This is more true today because of technology and economics and coming out of the intense markets of 2021 and 2022.  We are figuring out our new ‘new’ in today’s real estate.”