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  • Neighborhoods Make MGM

     

  • Neighborhoods Make MGM

    The Nature of Neighborhoods

    Neighborhood Development = Economic Development

    Planning with Purpose

    Good Growth Capacity

    Reinvesting in the Future

    At Home: Trends in Residential Real Estate

    MHA's Place in Montgomery

    The Education Equation

    Answers from the Experts

    Opportunity Ahead

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    Neighborhoods Make MGM

    The residential real estate industry in Montgomery has multiple moving parts, but they all work together to create and give us access to the spaces and places we call home. Yet, “home” is about more than just our individual houses. It’s about the way they combine to form an array of neighborhoods, neighborhoods that not only best tell MGM’s unique story, but that also fund our schools, shelter our workforce, support our businesses and underpin every facet of the local economy.

    When COVID hit, Montgomery’s residential real estate market braced for the worst, with many in the industry assuming that economic woes related to the pandemic and its shutdowns would negatively affect the industry. They were mistaken.

    Will Wilson, President of Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC, calls 2020 “a year like no other” for residential real estate. “When COVID hit in March of last year, we were preparing for a slowdown in residential real estate; however, the opposite happened,” he said. “Most residential real estate companies would say they ended the year better than ever.” He shared that as of this January, inventory is down by 44 percent in our area compared to the previous year, and he advised that consumers should expect a similarly low inventory of homes in the near future, which will continue to drive home prices up, while mortgage rates should remain low.

    That’s good news for folks in the real estate biz, but it brings an equally sunny outlook to the city as a whole, since Montgomery’s real estate industry is foundational to the local economy, creating jobs and bringing in revenue from taxes and permit fees. New home construction alone has a major positive impact, according to Wilson, who cited a recent National Association of Home Builders report. “Building 1,000 average single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110 million in taxes and fees for all levels of government to support police, firefighters and schools,” he said.

    Jimmy Lowder, Chairman and President of The Colonial Company, has been in the area’s real estate industry as a developer for 50 years (which doesn’t include his ditch-digging construction work as a teenager). He explained the benefits it brings his hometown, echoing Wilson. “Jobs, jobs, jobs.

    Think of every person who touches a new home, from the estimators to the site work to the framers to the finishing trades,” he said. “Easily more than 100 people work on every single new home built. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars in local income and local taxes. From the construction companies and suppliers to the real estate agents, lawyers and lenders—we’re the heartbeat of the local economy.”

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    The Nature of Neighborhoods

    These big-picture, overall effects of residential real estate activity deserve focus. But zoom in, and another image emerges, one that shows the city’s 200-plus distinct and diverse neighborhoods. The different attributes of each provide Montgomery residents with a deep pool of options, something Lowder stresses is crucial for the prosperity of any city. “Montgomery has a good mix of older, historic neighborhoods and newer areas under construction,” he said. “This offers home buyers and residents opportunities to choose.” Indeed, Montgomery’s array includes more established areas such as Cloverdale, Capitol Heights, Haardt Estates, Centennial Hill and the Garden District as well as multiple newer communities. “And every neighborhood has its own identity,” Lowder added.

    While each neighborhood is unique, containing its own history, characteristics, amenities and architecture, together, they are the building blocks of Montgomery’s collective community identity and tell an important piece of the city’s story, one that Robert E. Smith Jr., Director of Planning for the City of Montgomery, stresses is still being written. “In a lot of ways, Montgomery is its neighborhoods. They hold a lot, and the city’s identity emerges from the mix.”

    Neighborhoods are at the core of the Envision Montgomery 2040 Plan, recently completed under the leadership of Mayor Reed. The city’s first comprehensive plan in more than 50 years, Envision 2040 lays out a path for building personal and community prosperity by improving the city’s livability and included Chamber CEO Anna Buckalew and multiple Chamber stakeholders on its steering committee. Much of the plan touches on neighborhoods, setting goals and outlining actions to: rejuvenate neighborhoods by encouraging private investment, make wiser use of existing infrastructure for future expansion, refine zoning and SmartCode regulations to create more mixed-use neighborhoods, develop robust historic preservation guidelines, address blight and vacancies, and connect neighborhoods via multiple modes of transportation (including walking and cycling).

    Smith and others involved in the plan are working to capitalize on what’s here while still striving for what’s ahead. “As part of Mayor Reed’s vision, we are working hard to build a narrative for Montgomery’s next chapter that inspires internal and external investment, and we believe this starts in neighborhoods themselves,” he said.

    Understanding this key role that neighborhoods play drove the team behind Envision 2040 to collect neighborhood-level input. “When we focused on neighborhoods in the planning process, we did so in an intentional effort to reach people where they live and through what they experience,” Smith said. “Montgomery is more than 160 square miles, one of the largest cities by land area in the country,” he said. “You don’t necessarily live in all of Montgomery though; you live in your neighborhoods. You feel the projects that grow around you and the policies that impact your livability and opportunity.”

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    Neighborhood Development = Economic Development

    Since our neighborhoods have such influence on our daily quality of life, they’re also dynamic components of the city’s strategies for increased growth and economic development. A high quality of life is key for bringing and keeping people here, particularly the people needed to create a skilled workforce to power forward progress. Kevin Hively of Ninigret Partners LLC, who consulted on Evision 2040, calls these people “talent.” He noted that since every city wants and needs talent, talent has an array of choices. “Talent has options when it comes to which cities to live in. But ultimately, talent lives in neighborhoods,” he said. “Talent today is looking for a mix of quality housing options, amenities like restaurants and open space/recreational options, among other things. Intentional neighborhood and city planning bring these elements together.”

    Executive Director of Landmarks Foundation Collier Neeley agreed that quality of life—including the features Hively indicated—is important to the “under-40 crowd,” noting how some cities are approaching business recruitment a bit differently now, improving current community assets and creating new ones to first draw talent, then using the presence of the talent to reel in new companies.

    “With millennials squarely in the workforce now, and the zillenials well on their way, employers have adopted a ‘go where the workers are’ mentality, and cities have started attracting people as a tactic to recruit those businesses,” he said. He also pointed to other Southern cities as examples of how public investment to enhance community amenities can be successful in bringing in talent, particularly young talent. “NewTown Macon’s [a non-profit, public-private partnership for economic development] first project, before any of the sexy real estate development, was a trail project along the Ocmulgee River,” he said. “Part of East Atlanta’s revival is attributed to the Belt Line [a multi-use trail that circles the core of the city]. These projects and others like them, build safe, walkable connections from neighborhoods to business districts.” A similar trail system following an\ abandoned railway bed is currently in development in Montgomery.

    “NEIGHBORHOOD MAYOR”: Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery, Mayor Steven L. Reed is making good on his promise to rejuvenate the city’s neighborhoods. In March, Reed announced plans to invest $50 million to revitalize neighborhoods. His initiative will support a variety of capital improvements, including a new fire station at Court Street and Fairview Avenue, a new state-of-the-art multipurpose community center and more, and it’s all part of his vision to develop all of Montgomery, especially its diverse neighborhoods and distinct communities.

    HAMPSTEAD: STUDY IN SUCCESS: Hampstead had a banner year in 2020, setting home sales records. According to Jimmy Lowder, Chairman and President of The Colonial Company, this growth makes a strong case for the benefits of mixed-used, livability focused developments. “Hampstead has shown mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods offer benefits for all ages and lifestyles. From first-time homebuyers to retirees to growing families, a traditional development like Hampstead offers a full variety of home types plus workplaces, local food spots and places you need for everyday living,” he said. “Demand for homes in Hampstead is at an unprecedented level, so the market is telling us we’ve been on the right path, and national trends point to continued demand for mixed-use growth. It gives residents and visitors convenience in an inspiring and sustainable setting. Hampstead, like our projects in Cloverdale, is a return to time-tested development that combines home, local businesses and community.”

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    Planning with Purpose

    If a mix of neighborhood offerings is vital, how do we multi-task? How can we properly allocate\ resources and energy to, at the same time, encourage new developments, sustain existing neighborhoods and pump new life into neighborhoods on the brink? Many of the same strategies can be applied to all three situations, as Smith explained. “People want to live in neighborhoods that are well designed, have access to good quality shopping to include grocery stores, good recreational facilities and parks (both indoor and outdoor), walking and bike paths and trails, that are safe, have good overall transportation access, have good value going in and have the potential to maintain good value,” he said. “All of these things lead to good, sustained growth.”

    And they’re all achievable when intentional planning takes the lead. While any good plan has lots of layers, Neeley stressed that there is one thing that seems to be shared by the neighborhood plans that reap the best results: They foster engagement, using events, community spaces and public art. “It’s been proven both in anecdotal results and academic studies that preserving and enhancing the character of residential neighborhoods raises property values and increases the appeal of neighborhoods,” he said. “People want to live in neighborhoods that are walkable, that have character and have a strong sense of community. Projects like community gardens, murals and even annual festivals, connect people to one another.”

    Murals have been adding to the appeal, particularly in and around downtown Montgomery, since the city’s Public Art Commission was founded in 2013. But recently, a West Montgomery neighborhood tapped into the power of paint. Artist Kevin King looked at the exterior wall of his Oak Street studio and gallery space and saw a big blank canvas. He worked with two other artists to create\ a bold, bright “Welcome to West Side Montgomery” mural that depicts some pivotal Montgomery moments. It looks cool, but it’s also spurring economic development in the surrounding area. As it draws people to pose for social-media-worthy photos, it brings foot traffic and interest to nearby businesses. King’s travels to other cities alerted him to the idea of creative placemaking using art. “I was so fascinated by it,” he said. “These were actually strategies that were working all over the nation.”

    Considering his job, it’s not surprising that Neeley puts an emphasis on historic preservation, too, seeing it, when possible (and applicable), as a lynchpin of thriving neighborhoods. “Historic preservation has proven time and again to improve the average value of neighborhoods and the undesignated neighborhoods around them in a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ way,” he said. “Sensible preservation guidelines ensure a neighborhood retains its historic character, while enhancing the environment and general condition of the neighborhood. At the same time, renovations, whether residential or commercial, activate buildings and bring life to a neighborhood. Simply put, it makes the community feel good, and people who feel good spend money.” Sherry Weeks, a local realtor and President of the Montgomery Area Association of Realtors, added that the right planning results in more than a diversity of neighborhoods with a diversity of amenities. Diversity in neighborhoods should be a goal as well. “More cities need more multiracial, mixed-income neighborhoods,” she said. “There is a growing consensus that integration is key to promoting a wide range of positive outcomes for all residents by improving access to economic opportunity.”

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    Good Growth Capacity

    New development and redevelopment are being implemented all over the city, and like Lowder, Smith praised the work done so far. But, again like Lowder, he claimed there is much more left to do. “I have seen and have been a part of a lot of progress made in neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment\ efforts in our downtown, certain areas of west Montgomery, east Montgomery and other areas,” he said, “but I still think that much, much more needs to be done in west Montgomery, north Montgomery, south Montgomery and in the middle of Montgomery in order to fully have good positive impact where our entire city as a whole is more livable, has good quality of life and good economic development.” Hively echoed Smith on the “to-do” list still to be tackled and added his thoughts on the city’s massive unrealized potential. “From a growth perspective, there is a tremendous opportunity for Montgomery within its existing workforce,” he said. Right now, 56 percent of the jobs in the city are filled by people commuting into Montgomery, with 25 percent of these commuters living more than 50 miles away. “Conservatively, this pool of long-distance commuters translates to $1 billion in income annually,” he said. “The implication being that everyday spending to support these households is, for the most part, likely spent outside of the city limits. This is household money that isn’t supporting Montgomery retail, entertainment venues or restaurants.”

    A recent survey conducted jointly by The Decision Co. and the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) casts some optimistic light on this topic. It was conducted to study and better understand “submarket movements” of homebuying in the capital city, and it resulted in some interesting findings. While 57 percent of the survey respondents currently live in Montgomery (with the rest of them living in other River Region areas), 72 percent of respondents who said they plan to purchase a home in the next 12 months also indicated that they plan to purchase a home in Montgomery.

    The study also underscores Smith’s and Neeley’s sentiments on what makes a neighborhood appealing. When survey participants were asked what they were looking for when deciding where to purchase a home, proximity to shops and restaurants ranked No. 1, with access to parks and green spaces coming in second.

    It’s important to see the stats, but the last group of numbers in particular only confirms what most people already know. We want to like where we live, and while most of us desire safe, friendly communities, we also probably differ on specifics. That’s why an assortment of options will always be essential to Montgomery’s personality and sense of place, which is essential to our future. “The identity and variety of individual communities [in a city] are what make any small town and big city interesting,” Lowder said. “We must all contribute to the health of Montgomery’s different neighborhoods to strengthen neighborhood character and grow local businesses.”

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    Reinvesting in the Future

    The ideas that fuel city and community planning often concentrate on the collective, but when the City of Montgomery was crafting its Envision 2040 plan, the team started small, ensuring they got individual input. “It’s important to work directly with residents and local leaders when crafting neighborhood policy or building new projects. As we pursue these initiatives we’ve got to start, again, with the individual’s experience in the neighborhood,” Smith said. They asked people what challenges they saw facing their neighborhood and where there were opportunities. Smith asserted that identifying and assisting the endeavors of residents already working to improve where they live is the most productive use of the City’s resources. “Good policy is catalytic and adds wind to the sails of the doer’s already out there in our neighborhoods,” he said. “As we continue to explore our neighborhoods, we’ve yet to find a community without one of these necessary champions.”

    Smith touted Montgomery’s neighborhood champions, and in some areas, these determined residents are sorely needed: Among the city’s many neighborhoods are a few that have been deteriorating for decades. Wilson is primarily engaged in building new neighborhoods, but he recognizes the value in reinvigorating existing communities. “Any time there is revitalization and redevelopment, it is good for the city. It boosts the local economy with job creation, generates revenue and spurs growth, interest and excitement in areas of the city that have needed attention,” he said. “The Cottage Hill area and west Montgomery have been talked about for years, and it is good to see action being taken.”

    Wilson also offered thoughts on the necessity of joint efforts for efficient and effective redevelopment. “Revitalization and redevelopment take both private and public partnerships along with community involvement to make things happen. We are now seeing this happen across Montgomery. Let us not forget East Montgomery and the continued growth occurring in Pike Road,” he said.

    Lowder expressed his belief that community reinvestment is “critical” for any city’s long-term success and should be everyone’s concern, not an issue solely limited to residents of the areas in question. “The quality of life improvements, tourism dollars, job creation—all of this can be linked to reinvestment in our city’s older areas. In downtown and in West Montgomery — through public and private efforts— this has been significant, and we can do more,” he said.

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    At Home: Trends in Residential Real Estate

    Sherry Weeks, President of the Montgomery Area Association of Realtors, has been in the real estate business for 42 years, but she names the last decade as the most “consequential time in American real estate.” “We’ve gone from an abundance of foreclosures, cautious buyers and hesitant lenders to soaring prices, low inventory and fierce competition,” she said.

    The last 10 to 12 years have been tumultuous, but the industry is always in flux. Will Wilson, President of Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC, pointed to the shifts ever-advancing technology continues to usher in. “Now, with the speed of technology and information being at consumers’ fingertips, we must think outside the box on building relationships through social media platforms and getting the message to the consumer in creative ways,” he said.

    Weeks reiterated Wilson’s assessment of technology’s increasing role in today’s real estate transactions. “Let’s talk about 3-D virtual tours going beyond photos,” she said. “This new software allows buyers and sellers to take a virtual tour of a residential or commercial property and gives the feel as if you are walking through the property.”

    Changes in the types of houses buyers are seeking (and that homebuilders will construct) are also on the horizon, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s shutdowns drastically increased the time many spent at home, and this, perhaps more than anything else in recent years, is influencing home-design trends.

    According to an article in The Atlantic in February, the once-popular open-space concepts are on the way out, as people discovered a need for more privacy than they can provide. Home office space is high on most wish-lists, as more people work from home. (Even after the pandemic is over, many experts agree that a sizable chunk of the workforce will continue to do at least some remote work.) So too are additional flexible spaces (for workout equipment or hobbies). And a desire for greater access to mood-boosting natural light is making more windows and more outdoor spaces like porches, patios and decks “must haves.”

    MEET OUR LOCAL EXPERTS
    SHERRY WEEKS, President of the Montgomery Area Association of Realtors and Broker/Owner of ERA Weeks & Browning Realty

    WILL WILSON, President of Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC

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    MHA's Place in Montgomery

    President and CEO of the Montgomery Housing Authority Damon Duncan has been in his position for a year. MBJ asked him to outline his plans and goals for MHA and the strategies he and his team are using to reach them.

    What are your goals and plans for the Montgomery Housing Authority? We have our sights on being the best Housing Authority in the State of Alabama, providing quality affordable housing options to the citizens of Montgomery. To achieve this, we must undertake an aggressive redevelopment and repositioning strategy while ensuring quality supportive services are made available to the residents.

    Why is the work of MHA so vital in Montgomery and how does it affect the city as a whole? Quality affordable housing is essential to the physical, psychological and financial health of citizens. The environment in which one lives has much to do with various outcomes. Neighborhoods of opportunity have a significant impact on low and moderate-income families. Low-income families that receive housing subsidies (Section 8, Public Housing, or Tax Credit Housing) are less likely to be homeless. A vibrant and healthy community is a community where all of its citizens have an active role. A balanced community of low-, moderate and upper-income families have proven to be the key to thriving communities. MHA, in partnership with the City, plans to be at the center of the revitalization of the communities in Montgomery.

    Any MHA news you’d like to share? MHA recently secured a coveted and highly competitive Choice Neighborhoods Planning grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The award was one of 11 in the country for this funding cycle. In keeping with the agency’s priority at this time, the revitalization or replacement of Paterson Court is the impetus for this award. Paterson Court is one of the country’s oldest remaining public housing sites, constructed in 1937. The design, unit layout and major systems are all obsolete.

    MHA has property on the west side that includes the recently demolished Smiley Court and Cedar Park. Recently, there has been a spike in the level of interest in the Cedar Park site, which is situated on approximately 25 acres. At a recent board meeting, neighborhood citizens expressed their concerns over the possibilities and potential for Cedar Park redevelopment. MHA does not have plans for replacement housing at this site but will be taking proposals for interested investors and developers. We are looking forward to working with the City and Councilwoman Graham on the possibilities for that community.

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    The Education Equation

    Last year, Montgomery residents voted overwhelmingly to raise property taxes, one step of many in the quest to improve the city’s public schools.

    Jimmy Lowder, Chairman and President of The Colonial Company, shared his thoughts on the relationship between his business and education, calling the current state of Montgomery’s public school system the “biggest hurdle” faced by the residential real estate industry.

    “We have to make tangible, measurable improvements in the quality of education that we provide to our children,” he said. “Investment in education is an investment in ALL of our futures. There is no time to waste in turning Montgomery’s public schools around into a success story. The future of our economic growth, job recruitment, military growth, home sales and quality of life depends on it.”

    Sherry Weeks, President of the Montgomery Area Association of Realtors, commented on the effect the property tax increase will have on local real estate and on home values.

    “The increase that was voted in on November 3, 2020, will be, on average, an increase of about $12 a month in property taxes. This tax increase is greatly needed for our public schools,” she said.

    “I don’t see how this increase will affect the housing market in Montgomery County. With the funds being used to better our school system, this increase will increase the people wanting to live in our beautiful county. It behoves all of us to embrace this change to save our school system.”

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    Opportunity Ahead

    Amid last year’s chaos, the mortgage industry saw increased activity and opportunities, and according to many in the know, more of the same is ahead.

    We asked a handful of Montgomery-area mortgage brokers and bankers to share what last year was like for their business and what they see on the horizon in 2021 and beyond. Here’s what they had to say.

    Business was booming in 2020.
    “All the turmoil in 2020 drove interest rates lower and gave lenders an opportunity to do more business,” said Kimberly Lumpkin, Market Sales Leader with Synovus. Ashley Striplin, Guardian Mortgage Lender with Guardian Credit Union, agreed. “2020 was a unique year in the mortgage industry with historically low rates and seeing more refinances and purchases than we have in the last several years,” she said.

    While Striplin deemed it “unique,” Kenneth Hill, Vice President Mortgage Services at MAX, called it “record-setting.” “2020 will go down in the record books for many different industries and for many different reasons. Record-low interest rates influenced a refinance and home purchase boom across the country. The mortgage industry recognized a more than 70-percent increase in mortgage activity in 2020. MAX Mortgage Services saw an increase of approximately 150 percent.”

    Matthew Stringfellow, Market Sales Manager for Trustmark Mortgage, echoed his colleagues, noting 2020 was, “a year of amazing volumes and unique in the fact we had a strong purchase market while also handling a refinance boom.”

    Things were good, but they were different.
    Following pandemic restrictions and protocols meant Lumpkin had to change her two-decades-strong MO. “For more than 20 years, I tried to meet every customer at application or closing and always focused on personal interaction not just the transaction,” she said. “In 2020, we moved to a virtual model that helped customers feel at ease about doing business.”

    It was the same all over, with most businesses making big adjustments, but at least in some cases, the necessary modifications worked really well. “Due to the pandemic, the need for virtual meetings, electronic disclosures and online applications etc. became immediately necessary. We were able to implement strategies and incorporate new technology that made the customer-borrowing experience much more efficient and customer friendly,” said Hill. “These changes also assisted our mortgage loan originators and processors to approve, process and close a record number of mortgage loans in 2020.”

    Stringfellow identified a local trend that’s switched things up. “A market that has been historically a buyers’ market has quickly become a seller’s market,” he said. “This has resulted in properties consistently being in multiple offer situations, with buyers paying over list price for many homes.”

    And 2021 is shaping up to be another banner year for the mortgage industry.
    “Regardless of rates, the National Mortgage Bankers Association predicts 2021 will be one of the busiest years in history to buy a home,” said Lumpkin. “With a variety of down payment assistance programs and newfound expertise in a virtual lending environment, we will be able to serve buyers as needed into 2022 and beyond.”

    Erin Jackson, Mortgage Loan Officer at ServisFirst, has the same positive outlook. “Looking to the future, I feel like the sky is the limit for homeowners; it’s a great time to buy and refinance. Rates are low, and home sales should increase this year,” she said. “ServisFirst Bank will continue to implement operational efficiencies to make the home buying and home refinancing process a smooth one.”

    So does Hill. “Most experts have forecasted 2021 and even 2022 to continue to be stronger than normal years for the mortgage market, due to the expectation of continued low rates, an increase in home construction, a surge in millennial home buyer demand and those seeking to expand into larger homes,” he said. “We are still seeing an above average number of refinance applications at MAX, but they have decreased significantly since the end of 2020. Home purchase applications on the other hand, have increased significantly. We are confident that this trend will continue as long as the interest rates remain favorable.”

    MEET OUR LOCAL EXPERTS
    KIMBERLY LUMPKIN, Market Sales Leader, Synovus

    ASHLEY STRIPLIN, Guardian Mortgage, Lender, Guardian Credit Union

    KENNETH HILL, Vice President Mortgage, Services, MAX

    ERIN JACKSON, Mortgage Loan Officer, ServisFirst

    MATTHEW STRINGFELLOW, Market Sales Manager, Trustmark Mortgage

    WALK ON: In a recent survey conducted jointly by The Decision Co. and the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE), survey participants were asked what they were looking for when deciding where to purchase a home. Proximity to shops and restaurants ranked No. 1, with access to parks and green spaces coming in second.

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    Answers from the Experts

    Q: What’s been the biggest change in residential real estate in the last five years?

    A: The biggest changes on the residential side of real estate consist of four major factors: low-interest rates, fewer builders, fewer lots to build on in the area and a low inventory of homes available to sell. The financial crash in 2008-plus limited the money available to develop lots and build new homes, so many people are remodeling their existing homes. - DAVID KAHN, Founder/Broker, David Kahn & Co. Real Estate

    A: Customers have changed. For example, more single people are buying homes, and we have younger buyers now. To stay connected to my clients, I leverage social media, stay in close contact with my sphere of influence and have added virtual tours. Staying flexible with buyers is the key in our market, with many buyers coming from out of the area with the military. And serving in the military myself, I work hard to meet these needs. - ELECTIA LOVE, Broker/Owner, Bealoaks Property Management

    Q: How did the pandemic over the past year change real estate sales?

    A: With all the limits on travel, dining and most workplaces over the past year, people began to re evaluate what was important to them in a home and in a community. We saw priorities change and new trends develop among buyers, such as a larger need for outdoor space and extra indoor space for remote work/school, which we were able to provide. This led to an unprecedented sales demand in Hampstead. - KIM TRAFF, Sales Agent, Hampstead Community Realty

    Q: What’s been the biggest change in residential real estate in the last five years?

    A: The biggest change that I’ve seen is that I’ve noticed a ton of younger buyers. There have been a lot of people under age 25 purchasing their first home. I’ve also noticed home values increasing, and sales volume continues to increase. Also, there’s been an increase in real estate agents. - CECE SAVAGE, Broker/Owner, Garth Realty Group

    Q: What’s been the biggest change in residential real estate in the last five years?

    A: The biggest difference is the increase in online shopping. Clients already know about 70 percent of the information about a listing before even stepping foot in the home. Though the internet provides a good bit of information, that just isn’t enough. Professional, local real estate agents with many years of experience provide the greatest insight and knowledge about the market and what it feels like to actually live in the area. – ANN MICHAUD, Owner, AEGIS Michaud, Properties, Inc.

    A: Technology. The availability of software, apps and tools has sped up the way that information is shared and the time it takes for real estate transactions to be completed. While technology is helpful for working smarter, personal service through the interaction of agents and clients will always be of great value in our industry. -JEFF DICKEY, Associate Broker, Realtor, New Waters Realty

    A: The most significant change has been the use of technology by both Realtors and sellers/buyers. The public has transitioned from using print media and signage to online options to find available houses, apply for mortgage financing and research schools and neighborhoods. Likewise, Realtors have adopted the internet, social media, CRM’s and electric online document signing as the “norm” for conducting business. – NORMAN SCHLEMMER, Managing Partner, ARC Realty

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