A New York financial news and opinion organization has picked Mobile, Alabama as the market in which housing values will rise the most this year. The firm making the prediction is 24/7 Wall St., LLC. The company publishes about 35 pieces of content a day and according to their website has readers throughout North America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
The firm is predicting that home prices in Mobile will rise by 8.4 percent through 2011, making it the top market in the U.S. when many areas are still declining. Additionally, the firm is projecting that Mobile home prices “will rise the following year by an additional 7 percent, above the expected national average of 1.8 percent.”
Merrill Thomas of Merrill P. Thomas, Inc. has been in the real estate business in Mobile, Alabama for over 30 years. He currently serves as president of the Mobile Area Association of Realtors. “It’s a buyer’s market,” he says “and although it’s hard to predict exactly what turns on the buying light, all the ingredients are there.”
Thomas pointed to Mobile’s stable economy, low housing valuations, no overbuilding, low interest rates and relatively stable overall employment.
He says that Mobile’s economy has been relatively stable with no tremendous spikes and consequently “we don’t have the big falls when things turn down.”
Thomas says that in April of this year, the average home value in Mobile was $130,830 which was 70 percent of the national average. “Mobile is perceived as a value, especially with our transportation system and our quality of life in the Gulf Coast area.”
Thomas concludes that “all factors are positive and the grass root real estate sales agents are seeing improvement.”
According to 24/7 Wall St., LLC, housing has dropped more than 50 percent in many areas of the U.S., and there are few regions where prices are off less than 25 percent. Mobile’s drop from peak values was 23.6 percent according to the firm.
Dr. Don Epley is Director of the Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of South Alabama. “I’m positive on Mobile,” he says. “We are positioned for success.”
Epley says the announcements by Austal and ThyssenKrupp creating 8,600 new jobs will benefit the housing market. He says it is estimated that for every two to four new jobs created, one home will be sold. Epley also mentioned Mobile’s other positives including transportation, port development, consolidated economic development efforts and the fact that EADS is still interested in locating more of its manufacturing in the area.
“It’s hard to find right now in other markets all the positives that Mobile has going for it,” Epley said. “If I were sitting in New York making the predictions, I’d certainly put Mobile in the top ten markets in the country.”
The national picture is not as encouraging. Writing of the national housing situation, the same New York news and opinion firm says, “Most housing experts do not believe the market will recover this year. Almost a quarter of all mortgages are underwater. People cannot sell the homes tethered to them without paying money to their banks at closing. The mortgage default rates in many states continue to rise, degrading the value of the homes near those seized by banks. And the blight of unemployment has and will continue to keep the housing market weak.”
Rounding out the firm’s predictions for the top five housing markets in addition to Mobile are Madera, California; Tacoma, Washington; Spokane, Washington and Bellingham, Washington.William Bruce is an Accredited Business Broker and Senior Valuation Analyst assisting buyers and sellers of privately held businesses in the transfer of ownership. He may be reached at (251) 990-5910 or by email at WilliamBruce@bellsouth.net.