The Alabama Center for Real Estate created the following rankings based on year-to-date median price appreciation through July.
- Gadsden – 16.8 percent
- Walker County – 14.5 percent
- Decatur – 13.4 percent
- Phenix City – 11.4 percent
- Jackson County – 9.9 percent
Statewide Average: 5.6 percent
National Average: 5.3 percent
Gadsden: Home values are on the rise in the Gadsden area as it led all markets in the state in year-to-date (YTD) median price appreciation through July. Sales prices increased 16.8 percent from $107,693 in 2017 to $125,804 currently. Mirroring statewide trends, inventory in the area is declining as July listings were 5.1 percent below one year ago. Inventory shortages in Gadsden, however, were not as extreme as other markets in the north Alabama region. Inventory is down 25.3 percent in Huntsville, down 28.2 percent in Decatur, down 9.5 percent in Florence-Muscle Shoals, down 26.5 percent in Athens, down 12.9 percent in Cullman, down 22.3 percent in Marshall County, and down 15.2 percent in Cherokee County. For comparison’s sake, statewide inventory was down 12.1 percent in July.
Job growth related to the robust north Alabama economy was a significant factor in driving demand for residential housing upwards. Four of the top five markets for median price growth are in north Alabama, suggesting a regional trend which is likely to continue as the greater Huntsville area attracts large employers, many of which are in the high paying and innovative STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Furthermore, average days on market in the Gadsden area is declining and this suggests that demand for housing in the area is rising. Through July, listings in the Gadsden area are selling 30 days quicker than one year ago as YTD average DOM dropped from 143 to 113.
Walker County: We’re staying in the north Alabama region for Alabama’s second fastest rising home values through July. Median sales price in Walker County increased 14.5 percent YTD from $123,904 to $141,821. Demand for residential housing in the area is strong as YTD sales are up 8 percent from one year ago, average DOM dropped from 161 to 145, and inventory is down 19.5 percent.
With small town charm and the endless opportunities for outdoor recreation at nearby Smith Lake, it’s not surprising to see demand for Walker County real estate trending upwards during 2018.
Decatur: Alabama’s third fastest rising home values are found in Decatur where the YTD median sales price increased 13.4 percent from $121,586 to $137,914. Mirroring inventory trends seen statewide and in the North Alabama region, residential listings are down 28.2 percent from one year ago. This lack of inventory is a significant factor in rising home prices in the area. Homes are selling at a quicker pace than last year as average days on market decreased from 108 to 87. With 2.8 months of supply during July, Decatur has the lowest inventory to sales ratio among the top 5 markets and the second lowest in the state behind Huntsville with 2.3.
Currently the busiest port on the Tennessee River, Decatur has an economy rooted heavily in manufacturing and cargo transit. Bolstered by rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance’s 2014 arrival, this is a real estate market to watch as Decatur is poised for continued economic growth because of its strategic location and proximity to Huntsville.
Phenix City: The only market outside of the north Alabama region to make the top five rankings was Phenix City where the YTD median sales price increased 11.4 percent from $137,929 to $153,643. Inventory in the area is down but to a less degree as residential listings dropped 1.4 percent from 2017. Residential sales improved 3.3 percent YTD, and homes are selling 14 days faster than one year ago as average days on market dropped from 122 to 108.
Located only 34 miles from the third most expensive residential market in the state (Auburn-Opelika with a YTD median sales price of $232,957), Phenix City is another market to watch as we close out the summer buying months.
Jackson County: We’re heading to the northeast corner of the state for our fifth-fastest rising home prices. The year-to-date median sales price in Jackson County increased 9.9 percent from $135,507 to $148,957. Mirroring regional and statewide trends, residential inventory in the area decreased, but to a less degree, as it fell 2.7 percent from one year ago. Interestingly, Jackson County was the only market in the top five to see an increase in YTD average days on market as it went from 135 to 139. The market currently has 6.7 months of supply.
Jackson County has made national headlines as Google broke ground on its $600 million data center in April. The site is, ironically, located adjacent to a defunct power generating facility. Residential markets in the area are likely to see a boost in demand in the near future as the site expects to employ 75-100 highly skilled employees including engineers and computer technicians.