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Whether you’re a long-time local or just recently became a resident of the Magic City, finding the perfect Birmingham-themed decor can be a challenge. If you’re struggling to show your love of Birmingham in your home, you’ve come to the right place. The perfect prints and paintings can be found a click away or even down your block.

Online finds:

The Southern Maple

This online Etsy store, based in Hoover, produces some of the most unique pieces you’ll find. Handmade and carved decor that can effortlessly bring the magic of the city into your home. LINK: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheSouthernMapleLLC?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=1020710365

Prints of the South

A photography and print company based out of Kentucky effortlessly captures the magic of Birmingham. Their online shop offers framed photos of Vulcan, the Alabama Theater, and more notorious Alabama scenes. Follow the link to their Etsy page to shop! LINK: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PrintsOfTheSouth?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=639967269

In-Person Shops:

Cityfolk Creative

Banners! And prints! and bandanas! Oh my! Amanda Nicholson, owner of Cityfolk Creative, graphic designs and hand-makes a multitude of products that scream “I love Birmingham.” From stuffed Vulcans to magnets, this shop has all the unique pieces. Keep an eye out for more products to go live on their Etsy page, but you can also find Cityfolk Creative at Pepper Place Market! LINK: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CityfolkCreative

Yellow Hammer Creative

Home of the “It’s Nice to Have You In Birmingham” print! Yellow Hammer creative has everything you need and more to decorate your home and add to your t-shirt collection. Yell0w Hammer retail shop is located at Pepper Place near Avondale and can also be found at the Pepper Place market (almost) every Saturday! LINK: https://yellowhammer-creative.myshopify.com/ With these shops, your love for Birmingham doesn’t have to stop at your front door! Bringing the magic of Birmingham into your home is only half the fun of being a resident of the magic city. Who better to support than other residents and lovers of Birmingham? Happy shopping!
You just found your dream home. You’ve always wanted to live in a humble cottage on a bit of land, surrounded by a white picket fence. And you found her. She’s beautiful. Recently renovated. Greenest grass in the neighborhood. And it's in your budget. What’s the catch? It’s in a flood zone. Living in the United States, it’s likely that you or someone you know has been impacted by flooding at some point. Even if you don’t live near the coast, it is likely you have been impacted by flooding in one way or another. That’s because floods are the most common natural disaster in our country. As long as there is rain, there is a possibility for flooding. Unfortunately, floods also happen to be the most expensive natural disaster for homeowners to recover from. While living in a flood zone doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed flooding, it does mean that your homeownership might look a little different from others. In the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a flood is defined as surface water from any source, occurring in at least two acres of two or more properties (can include mudflow). If your house is in a designated flood zone, it means there is increased risk that a flood (as defined by NFIP) will occur. It is important to research what type of insurance you will need. Your homeowners policy on your house will not necessarily cover flood-related damage. For this reason, it is important that you speak with someone who specializes in flood insurance. The average homeowners flood insurance premium is $700. In some areas, such as those that have been victims of floods in the past, premiums can surpass $5,000. It all depends on where you live. The map below is a representation of current flood zone data compiled by First Street Foundation. While it is evident there are many hot spots in coastal areas, there are plenty of ‘flyover states’ with thousands of designated flood zones as well. Essentially, everyone lives in an area that can flood, some more than others. According to the First Street Foundation, there’s approximately 23.5 million properties at risk of flooding in America. The chart above shows data from flooding sources local to Birmingham, AL. If your house is in a flood zone, there’s a chance one of these sources may be the cause (though there are plenty of other flood sources as well). Remember, flood zone maps are updated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) constantly. Just because your home isn’t in a flood zone now doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. A recent study from Stanford associate professor Marshall Burke, indicates that single-family homes zoned in floodplains lose roughly two percent of their value. For a $500,000 house, that is $10,500. If you include this in addition to other costs such as insurance, the total price should be pushed down between 4.7 and 10.6 percent! That could mean a total subtraction of $53,000 to the same house! Before you put an offer in, make sure that both you and your real estate agent have thoroughly investigated the lasting impact of living in a flood zone. You could potentially save both time and money through proper research. So, should you buy that beautiful cottage? Honestly, it’s up to you! As long as you are fully aware of the risks that come with owning a home in a designated flood zone and you are comfortable with paying additional costs, you should still buy your dream home. Just be prepared to fully research the area and the way other surrounding homes have been affected financially. We may not be able to snap our fingers and get you out of a flood zone, but we certainly can help you choose a home that fits your needs! Shoot us a text or call us at 205.291.8806! B’ham Realty 1923 3rd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203 office@bhamrealtyco.com 205.291.8806 Further Research: https://map1.msc.fema.gov/mipdata/01073CV001D.pdf?LOC=a7a6060d2606fb0c4702b0a149f141b1 (see for most up to date FIS report for Jefferson County)
Everest versus interest rates; which is the worst hike of 2022? In trail lingo, the effects of the 2020 and 2021 interest rates could be comparable to glissading down a smooth, iced-capped mountain top for many homeowners. Millions of Americans pleasantly took advantage of low interest rates by refinancing their homes. Now, we are preparing for an inevitable increase in interest rates, which for some people may feel more like planning a dreadful climb up Mount Everest. As up to six interest rate hikes are predicted to occur throughout the next two years, homebuyers could potentially end up spending tens of thousands more than they bargained for. It is of utmost importance that the 2022 homebuyer adequately understands the impact of increasing interest rates. As American business magnate Warren Buffet once said, “Don’t pass up something that’s attractive today because you think you’ll find something better tomorrow.” The effect in which this applies to the current real estate market is magnified now more than ever. With record low interest rates in our pandemic-stricken market, the only foreseeable direction for rates to go is up. But what does that mean for today’s homebuyers? To answer this question, let’s discuss how these record low interest rates came about in the first place. While the Federal Reserve doesn’t directly control mortgage rates, their manipulation of short term rates directly influences long term rates. The Fed exists for two main purposes: to stabilize prices and secure maximum employment rates. The primary way to achieve these goals is through manipulating the economy with monetary support. Since 2020, the Fed has bought nearly $120 billion worth of bonds monthly in an attempt to boost our economy. While this caused interest rates to drop significantly, inflation rates, in turn, jumped to a level that hasn’t been seen in forty years. The Federal Reserve plans to counteract the increase in inflation by accelerating the removal of monetary support. Consequently, inflation rates are expected to drop and interest rates are expected to rise. The debate concerning the presence of interest-rate hikes in 2022 is not if, but when and how many. The central bank recently released a projection of three interest-rate hikes this year with up to three more to follow in 2023. Some economists predict the first interest-rate hike will begin within the next four months, but others predict a withholding until summer. Regardless of when one first occurs, it is important to consider how an interest-rate hike will affect homebuyers. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, predicts a gradual increase in mortgage rates, likely to hit 3.6% by the end of 2022. That would be a 0.92% jump from mortgage rates in 2020 (as averaged by Freddie Mac). Take a look at the chart below to see how an increase in mortgage rates can affect a homebuyer’s budget (from www.moneyunder30.com). As shown in the table above, a 1% difference can result in an addition of over $30,000 to the total amount of interest paid. As interest rates increase, affordability decreases. A homebuyer who could once afford a $300,000 house at 3% interest, would only be able to afford a home that costs $265,000 at 4% interest. Alternatively, homebuyers who don’t make proper adjustments are in for a shock. While the monthly payment for a $300,000 house only increases by roughly $200 from a 1% rise in the interest rate, the total repayment over the life of the mortgage increases by nearly $60,000. For this reason, it is critical to consider not only the monthly costs involved in financing but the long term costs as well. So, whether you’re planning to climb the daunting 29,032-foot-tall Mount Everest this year, or just planning to buy a home, it is important to look out for yourself. Just like planning a mountaineering escapade, the effect that the 2022 interest-rate hikes have on an individual is predominately indicative of self-education. The expected interest-rate hikes may not be exhaustively comparable to hiking Mount Everest, but there is certainly a commonality in the necessity of planning and educating yourself. After all, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” (Benjamin Franklin). Katie - Bham Realty

Sources

“Mortgage Rate Predictions for 2022 | Nextadvisor with Time.” Time, Time, 29 Dec. 2021, https://time.com/nextadvisor/mortgages/mortgage-prediction-2022/. Fitzgerald. “The Majority of Fed Members Forecast Three Interest Rate Hikes in 2022 to Fight Inflation.” CNBC, CNBC, 15 Dec. 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/15/the-majority-of-fed-members-forecast-three-interest-rate-hikes-in-2022-to-fight-inflation.html. Irina, Irina. “Federal Reserve: Expect 3 Interest-Rate Hikes in 2022.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 16 Dec. 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fed-interest-rate-annoucement-what-to-expect-2021-12-15/. Murray, Christopher. “How Much Does a 1% Difference in Your Mortgage Rate Matter?” Moneyunder30.Com, 24 Nov. 2021, https://www.moneyunder30.com/1-percent-difference-mortgage-rate. “Home Loan Calculator with PMI, Taxes, and Insurance.” LendingTree, https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/calculators/home-loan-calculator/.
During the 2008 housing market crash, homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their home was worth. During this time, we saw areas across the United States with high poverty rates, in addition to high appreciation in years prior, struggle the most. Homeowners in these places saw a 44% decline in home prices when the housing market crashed, whereas homeowners in areas with low poverty rates, and low appreciation, saw a 10% decline in the average home price. Now, home prices are at all-time high and 67% of Americans view now as the worst time to buy a home. As the housing bubble gets set to burst, real estate experts are expecting to see the same decline in home value in high poverty areas that they saw back in 2008. Areas with a high poverty rate are victims of investor interest for fix and flip. Homes in these areas are cheaper, and investors will come in during the housing bubble to buy. More interest in the area pushes prices up, causing home value appreciation to increase. When the crash begins and the home is updated or repaired, investors list their homes, pushing prices back down. The more appreciation we see in a specific area in the years leading up to a housing crash, the more that area will suffer in the aftermath. The national poverty rate sits at an average of 14%, and the state of Alabama has an average of 15.5%. To be considered a high poverty area, the average poverty rate will be above 20%, and low poverty areas will see an average poverty rate below 10%. According to data from 2019, Bessemer (35020) and Midfield (35228) have some of the highest poverty rates, sitting at 25.9% and 22.1% respectively. With a higher poverty rate, comes cheaper home prices, and cheaper home prices are an interest to investors from all over. High home value appreciation has been seen across all areas of metro Birmingham in the past year, but the higher percentages are found in those high poverty areas. For an area to be considered to have high appreciation, there needs to be at least a 10% increase in home value in the past year. Using the same areas from above, Bessemer has seen a 35% increase in appreciation value in the past year; Midfield saw a 29% increase. Areas with low poverty rates, such as Mountain Brook (35223) with a poverty rate of 2.5%, saw only a 17% increase in appreciation this past year. The average rate of appreciation for zip codes in the metro Birmingham area is 14%. With less Americans wanting to buy, prices will begin to drop, and it will add to speculation of an impending housing market crash. The poverty level and amount of appreciation contribute to how much a specific area will suffer, and if you live in an area with high poverty rates and high appreciation, you are at higher risk of losing home value than any other area. If you are looking to buy a home, checking out the increase in appreciation of homes in the area in the prior years would benefit your investment in the event of a housing market crash. You can check out the poverty rate for your zip code, as well as other important information, here. You can check out the appreciation rate compared to poverty rate, ranked with numerous metro Birmingham zip codes through our excel sheet.
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen many changes to the housing market, including the need for more space for those who work from home. We are also seeing many younger people, such as millennials and Gen Z, choose to move back in with their families and stay for longer periods of time. Millennials make up the largest portion of first-time home buyers right now, but they aren’t buying homes at the same age and rate previous generations have. With more options available to them, affordability issues, and starting families later in life, millennial home buyers and older Gen Z have been slower to buy homes than the generations before them. Millennials and older Gen Z are prolonging the home buying process by having more access to options and information than previous generations have had. Technology plays a big part in everyday life, and it is no different with the home buying process. You can find homes online through websites like Zillow or Redfin and have access to almost all the information you need to know, such as pictures, number of bedrooms, what kind of flooring; you don’t even have to enter the home. The number of options that are at their fingertips gives them more homes to sift through, more options to think about, and more areas to cover. Mortgages can also be shopped around for online. With easier access, home buyers now receive more mortgage quotes than previous generation home buyers; millennials have seen to get an average of 6 mortgage quotes, compared to the 3 that their parents may have gotten. One of the biggest issues that has exiled younger adults from the housing market is affordability. Across the United States, new home buyers are being left out in the cold due to a housing shortage of nearly 4 million homes, propelling the average home prices to an all-time high. Homes today are 39% more expensive than they were 40 years ago. While wages have risen since then, they have not kept up with the increasing costs such as climbing rent prices, home prices, or tuition costs. Saving up money for long term goals, such as buying a new home, is hard to do when you have student loan payments and high living expenses. Being able to afford to buy your own home has risen to top priority amongst millennials and older Gen Z, knocking down the idea of settling down and starting a family. With home prices already being at an all time high, younger couples can no longer afford the challenges that come with having kids, such as higher insurance, childcare, and parental leave. This higher cost of living contributes to the lack of stay-at-home mothers; families can no longer survive off one income. Many women also want to build a career and be financially secure before settling down to start a family, and women 50 years ago weren’t given this kind of opportunity. With so many couples waiting until later in life to settle down, it also pushes back the idea of buying a home. Buying a home is a large investment, and it is a decision that many millennials are taking their time on. Whether it be due to too many decisions, affordability issues, or even the need to feel financially secure before making a long term decision, younger generations are ultimately prolonging their home buying experience.

A recent study found that Jefferson county ranked 8 in Alabama for rising home values. Jefferson county continues to be one of Alabama’s most desirable counties to live in. Jefferson county continues to be one of the most dense counties at 674,000 people. Mobile county is a close second at 414k people.

The study by SmartAsset ranked Clarke county, in south Alabama, as the number 1 fastest-rising home value county. Followed by Baldwin county and Mashall county. SmartAsset’s most recent study was to determine which counties get the most value when you consider home value growth, Schools and property tax rate.

Jefferson county continues to rank well across important criteria for the majority of homeowners. Jefferson county has also seen a large influx of commercial and out of state investors flocking to the county. Commercial development is highly correlated with getting the most value from residential home sales.

For the last 5 years Jefferson County has seen price appreciation of 37.66%, which is about 7.5% each year. Shelby county is close behind at 32.8%, about 6.56% each year. These strong numbers are a great sign for future property values in Magic City.

A link to the article mentioned: https://smartasset.com/taxes/alabama-property-tax-calculator#alabama/homeValueGrowth-1

Life moves fast as you look back on all the things you’ve done. Before you know it, you look next to you and your loved ones have grown older. Tasks take a bit more effort for them, and maybe their memory isn’t what it used to be. As much as we hate to think about the future regarding our loved ones, there comes a point where you have to plan for will happen for when their health declines. There are many signs that your elderly loved one may need some extra help with everyday tasks. Reduced mobility, vision, and memory are all common signs of aging, but that doesn’t mean that they need help. You’ve got to look deeper behind those signs and ask yourself the hard questions. Is the home safe if those worsen? Are you, family members, or friends close enough to help out on a daily basis? Complex medical schedules, signs of depression, sudden weight loss, recent injury, or a noticeable lack of self-care suggests that they need some assistance. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to seek help from outside your circle of family and friends, there are different senior care options based on what each individual needs. Home Care – Home care is typically a temporary situation due to illness or surgery recovery, and it put in place by a doctor. The individual will receive professional care while they remain in the comfort of their own home. Home health aides can also relieve primary caregiver stress and come to the home when it is convenient to the family to help with everyday tasks. Adult Day Care – Adult day care is a great option for those of you that are the primary caretaker of your senior loved ones and can’t afford residential care for them. This option can provide structure to the individuals everyday lives, and help alleviate feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. Many adult day care programs provide a midday meal, as well as a variety of social activities, outings, and healthcare. Assisted Living – If your loved one needs assistance with daily living tasks, such as laundry, dressing, or transportation, an assisted living facility would be a great option. It is a long-term residential option, and it allows seniors to remain their independence while still living in a safe environment with around the clock security and care. Assisted living facilities offer a range of social activities and events for residents to participate in, and it comes with a more communal vibe to make individuals feel more welcome and at home. Nursing Home – Nursing homes are residential care options for individuals that need around the clock medical care. Stays can be long-term or short-term for anyone requiring preventive, therapeutic, or rehabilitative care. You want to find a facility that best meets your loved one’s needs, and you want them to be happy and comfortable. When the time comes to begin the search, be sure to include your loved one in on the process. If you’ve decided to go with a residential facility, this will become their new home; allowing them to help make decisions will play a huge roll in how they cope with the change. The best way to find the right facility is to visit them. When you’re there in person, you’ll be able to tell how clean it really, is, how welcoming the common areas are, how the staff interacts with residents, and ask any questions. You might what to clarify what you’re paying for, or maybe you want to know specific questions about what your loved one will be able to bring with them. Take notes, compare facilities, and choose one that feels right. The cost of senior care varies depending on where you live, as well as how much care is needed for your loved one. Nursing homes provide the most care, making them the most expensive option; however, the cost of placing a loved one in a nursing home in Alabama is well below the national average. Alabama also has the lowest average cost for skilled nursing when compared to its neighboring states. If you need more information on the cost of senior care in Alabama, you can visit caring.com for more!
If you have been thinking about selling your home, you have probably thought about things you could do to add value to your home before putting it on the market. The truth is, while there are things that will increase the value, it pays off more in pride while you are still living there than it does anything else. However, some minor upgrades and changes aren’t such a bad idea when trying to appeal to home buyers. First things first, home maintenance. Your home is a big investment, and you should take care of it as you would anything else that you want to have for a while. Home maintenance items, such as lawn maintenance, replacing outdated or broken appliances, or servicing your HVAC, won’t add value to your home. If anything, you’ll have a lower chance of getting a bad home inspection report back. Home maintenance should take place as issues arise to keep your home in good condition while you’re still there. The better care you take of the home, the more it’ll be worth later. Small upgrades are a good way to spruce up your home and add a little bit of value back into it. The best way to do that is to paint. When you’re selling your home, you want your home to appeal to a wide variety of buyers, and to do that, painting over your lime green bedroom walls might be a good start. You could also think about sanding down and repainting kitchen or bathroom cabinets. Other small upgrades you might want to think about are removing your popcorn ceiling, replacing hardware on cabinets and drawers, and switching out old lightbulbs with LED’s. These are small and inexpensive changes, but they will make a difference in the eyes of a buyer! If you want to do something a bit more than small upgrades, think energy efficient. Bringing energy efficiency into your home is going to add value because you will ultimately be saving money on things like heating and cooling costs. Smart or programmable thermostats are a great way to save on energy costs; you’ll be able to set climate control for when nobody is home or when it’s time for bed. Other things you might want to think about in terms of energy efficiency include installing double paned windows, adding ceiling fans into bedrooms, or adding a bit more insulation to your attic. If you’re wanting to remodel or renovate, specifically to sell, remember to keep in mind that anything you do will need to appeal to a large variety of people. While a lot of people appreciate a good kitchen or bathroom remodel, any renovation that adds mores space is the best route to take. A lot of people are looking for more space to work from home ever since COVID has created a remote work force. You can finish out your basement, if you have one, or open up the floor plan by knocking out a wall. Making eye candy changes to your home to make it more appealing doesn’t have to be expensive. Add a fresh coat of paint, and keep in mind you are trying to please a variety of different potential buyers with whatever changes you decide to make. Whether you decide to make some minor changes or add a half bath, you’ll find that you added just enough value for the right buyer.
With the threat of COVID-19 across the world, many people had to make the transition from working in a centralized office space to working from the comfort of their own home. As the pandemic progressed, companies began to give their employees the option to continue to work from home instead of returning to the office; they even offered a hybrid option of coming into the office some days and remotely working other days. While those of us who work from home don’t make up a large portion of the work force, it is still enough to create a shift in commercial and residential real estate. With more people spending majority of their time back at home, their needs have changes regarding their living spaces. In the past, location played a big part in where people chose to live; they were willing to sacrifice floor space in order to be in the location they desired. Not to mention, better location meant higher prices in most cities. Now, people are looking for more space, and location isn’t necessarily a determining factor. There is a need for more space in order to have a dedicated area to working from home, and by working remotely, they don’t need to be as close to the office. This new necessity among working Americans has caused apartment floor plans to be modified. Renter’s desire a home office space, so architects have changed existing floorplans, enabling people to work from home without paying for a whole extra room. A combination of being able to work from home and the need for more space has remote workers migrating from city centers to more suburban and rural communities. These communities are often more affordable, and they provide more floor space for what you end up paying. Cities such as New York City and San Francisco are seeing massive loss of residents during this shift to remote work. Residents will sell their home and condos within the city and take the money they’ve made to the suburbs and rural areas nearby, consequently causing a rise in home and rental prices in that area. This rise in home and rental prices can affect locals, squeezing them out of the area. As more people are given the option to work from home, the more we will see a change in the real estate industry. With companies and workers finding more pros than cons from working from home, commercial real estate could see centralized office spaces phased out entirely. Within the residential real estate industry, there could be a severe change in floorplans for new homes being built. COVID-19 not only changed the average working day for Americans, but it created a shift what people want in the real estate market as well.

The home buying process is an extremely rewarding process, and we want to help you feel like you did it right.

  • Find a real estate agent. Finding a real estate agent is going to be the most helpful thing to do when it comes to finding your dream home. Don’t be afraid to talk to and interview several agents to find one that you think has your best interests in mind.
  • Figure out what kind of monthly payment your budget allows. Before you start your home search, it’s a really good idea to take the time to sit down to see what your monthly budget looks like now, and what it will look like once you buy a home. You don’t want your monthly housing payments to exceed 25% of your take home pay. Be sure to include property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, etc.
  • Buy in a good school district. Homes in a good school district are more likely to go up in property value, as well as sell faster. Even if you don’t have kids, and you never plan on having kids, check out homes in good school districts.
  • Know what you are not willing to negotiate on. Buying a home comes with a lot of compromise, but what are those things that you’re not willing to compromise? Maybe you want a walk-in closet, or you want a big open kitchen. Find those things that are important to you and make a list. This process is about you and your future home, so if you know you’ll be devastated if your new home doesn’t come with a formal dining room, don’t settle.
  • Don’t rush and be nosey. When you’re looking at homes, don’t be afraid to really look. Obviously if the home is occupied, respect their privacy and their belongings. However, turn on the water, check out the water pressure. Open cabinets and closets, see how much space is in there. Are the yards in the neighborhood kept up with? Purchasing a home is a big decision, and you want to make sure you know what you’re getting.
  • Bring in an outsider. Sometimes you don’t realize you’re wearing rose colored glasses, and you think you’ve found the perfect home. Bringing along a friend or family member, who knows what you’re looking for in a home, might help you see the not-so-perfect aspects about the home. It’s easier to stay grounded when you have someone you trust around to help decide if it’s what you’ve been searching for.
  • You might get a better deal in the colder months. When school begins for kids, most people have settled into their new homes. By September, the number of homes on the market is still fairly high, and as it gets colder, the market cools down as well. You may not have a full view of available homes, but the prices will be lower!

We want your home buying process to be as smooth as possible, and we want you to get the most out of it. Find your budget and take your time.