The good and bad to increasing home values in Huntsville

The prices of an average home in Huntsville increased faster than all but 17 cities in the entire country between 2017 and 2018.

Posted: Dec 3, 2018 8:06 AM
Updated: Dec 3, 2018 9:19 PM

The average price of a home in Huntsville continues to increase right alongside the city's population. A new study by the National Association of Realtors found the average selling price for a home in Huntsville is $196,000, an increase of nearly 11% between July 2017 and July 2018.

Realtors Terri Rotenberger and Tracy Hitt with Legend Realty describe this as a seller's market, especially with homes priced less than $300,000 in some of the most-coveted parts of town. "Five Points, Blossomwood and the Medical District," said Hitt. She said there is also increasing demand for homes in South Huntsville given the proximity to Redstone Arsenal, affordability and revitalization plans.

After years of careful consideration, Caroline Prince decided to sell her home of 20 years in the Five Points neighborhood. "I was a little surprised I was going to get more than I had hoped, but we never even got to list it," Prince said. "We just told our agent we wanted to sell it, and they had somebody who wanted to buy it almost immediately." Rotenberger was her agent and said they never got the "For Sale" sign in the yard when offers started to come in.

Another trend continues to emerge in these desired neighborhoods; buy a house, tear it down, then build a new, much larger home in its place.  "You're in a $200,000 house and then, suddenly, you're going to have the house next door that is $500,000," said real estate blogger Candy Evans. She cautioned, "You don't deserve to pay more because they are."

Evans follows real estate trends in the Dallas metroplex, an area which experienced several years ago the kind of real estate boom Huntsville is going through right now. She knows the ups and downs which accompany it.

"The trickle down is that it changed entire neighborhoods because folks who were living in these homes for years, and just had them as houses, were suddenly next door to these 6,000 square-foot homes which then drove up property value in the neighborhood," said Evans. It is certainly great news for anyone looking to sell, but potentially expensive news for those deciding to stay. "It made it almost impossible for the average person to live and enjoy their home."

Her words of warning for people who are suddenly seeing a huge jump in home values in their neighborhood?  Plan ahead. "I think you just have to gear up for it and be ready for it. Know that what goes up must come down, but you have to arm yourself with those (property tax) evaluations." She said it is necessary in order to fight back just in case of a sudden jump in prices in your neighborhood.

In the meantime, realtors like Rotenberger and Hitt are working to keep up with demand, especially as more and more people continue to move to Huntsville. "Put it on the market and see," said Hitt when asked about suggestions for anyone wanting to test the real estate waters with their own home. "But be prepared to move in a month," she added.

Rotenberger had a few pieces of advice for anyone looking to buy. "Prequalify and be ready to offer immediately." She said it isn't unheard of to pay more than asking, and don't be surprised if the seller asks for concessions like staying in the home for a few additional months while he or she finds a new home.

This same study found that Huntsville isn't the only local city seeing a huge surge in home prices. Decatur saw the fourth highest increase in home values between July 2017 and July 2018.

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