How Much Is $400k Worth in Huntsville, AL?

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Moving to a new area can be stressful. Finding the right neighborhood and the perfect home is a daunting task, especially when you don’t live in the area. You probably have a specific budget and know what price point you can afford, but many home buyers forget the difference in cost of living (determined by your living area).

Two-hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) can get you a beautiful, spacious house in Huntsville, but in New York City, that would get you a tiny cottage on the outer city-limits. And since a lot of our home buyers come from the east coast, specifically Washington D.C., they don’t realize how much house they can actually get for a better price.

Cost of Living Comparison: Washington D.C. & Huntsville, AL

- Huntsville is 33% cheaper than Washington

- Housing is 64% cheaper in Huntsville

As you can see, living in Huntsville is drastically cheaper than living in Washington. The housing market was even the biggest difference factor in the 2 areas. So when you consider what $400,000 can get you in Washington, think about what it’ll get you in Huntsville. You have an enormous potential to either earn money or buy a much larger home. Either way, you’ll be living more comfortable than you did in Washington.

What $400,000 Can Get You in Huntsville, AL

For the curious, here is a home for sale in Huntsville that fits the average home price in Washington D.C.

16490 Snug Harbor Road, Huntsville, AL 35803

Price: $419,900

This custom 4-bedroom house rests in the Marina Park neighborhood, only minutes away from the Redstone Arsenal & Ditto Landing. The traditional, brick design includes spacious living areas and craftsman-style elements. An open floor plan helps create a more lively home experience and prevents you from feeling closed off from the property. Tons of natural light brightens the house through the multi-paned windows. And the bedrooms feature cozy amenities, ranging from soft carpeting to large closets. Other noteworthy features include a 2-car garage and large yard for children to play in.

Huntsville, AL Real Estate

If you’re interested in seeing what else you can get for $400,000 in Huntsville, search our current home listings by clicking the button below. If you’d like to talk to us about relocating to the area, give us a call at (256) 799-9000 or send us an email via our Contact Page.

April 2013 Market Update

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Huntsville and Madison County is experiencing a healthy real estate market with residential sales up 6 percent through April in a balanced, even market. In April, Huntsville/Madison County there were 412 residential units sold. The 412 units sold in April were 35 more units sold compared to March. However, residential sales slipped nearly 9 percent compared to April 2012.

In April 2013, the Huntsville housing inventory was 3,052 units. This is a 4.0 percent increase from April of last year. There is currently a 7.4 months’ supply of housing, which means, if there were no new listings on the market it would take approximately 7.4 months to run out of units for sale. This is an increase of 13.8% from April 2012. The direction of supply is consistent with historical data trends that indicate April inventory on average increases from March to April an average of 2.5 percent. Until the market gets an early read on the impact of sequester as it relates to housing demand, keeping a close eye on the levels of future supply will remain important for the market.


Residential sales in April increased by 9.3 percent compared to March. Existing single family home sales accounted for 75% of total sales, in comparison to 74% in April 2012. New home sales accounted for 22%, down from 24% in April of last year. Lastly, condo sales comprised 3 percent of total sales, up from 2 percent last April. Historical data shows that April sales increase an average of 2.2 percent, so sales were up more than 4 times in 2013.

The median selling price in Huntsville for April 2013 has decreased 3.9 percent from April 2012 down to $151,860. This figure also represents a decrease of 3.0 percent compared to March 2013. These decreases go against historical trends. From 2008 – 2012, the average April median selling price increase from the month of March by 0.9 percent. This decrease need not cause alarm, but the wide gap is something we will keep an eye on. A broader lens is appropriate when looking at these numbers due to price fluctuations from month-to-month as the sample size of data is subject to seasonal buying patterns. It would not be uncommon for prices to bounce back favorably in May as consumer behavior transitions to reflect home buying season. However, this year is different from years before due to the wild card that is how the market will respond to the sequester.

You can view the current monthly Huntsville Residential Report here. If you have any questions about this market report or if you or someone you know has any buying or selling needs, please call me at (256) 799-9000 or send me an email at

Spring Decorating, Eco-Style

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As spring blossoms, so does our desire to lighten up - in life and at home. Simple eco-friendly changes to home decor can set the tone for a much fresher and brighter outlook.

Here are five tips to get you started:

Get a color lift
Color has long been credited for its mood-changing qualities. "Color can really change the energy in a space," says C. Michael Kleeman, program coordinator of design at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Choose the season's hottest color - orange - or seasonal citrus green, turquoise or sunny yellow, in paint, botanical fabrics and accessories.

A new coat of paint - even on one wall - can immediately set an upbeat mood. Use Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) free paints to protect the environment. "These paints don't emit toxic fumes and are completely odorless," says Kleeman. "They make it possible to paint a bedroom today and sleep in it tonight."

Lighten up the mood
Give your home an eco-friendly dose of spring with updated lighting, new furniture arrangements and removal of heavy draperies and rugs.

Rachel Simmons, a member of the interior design faculty at The Art Institute of Jacksonville, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design, suggests converting task lighting to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which are now available in dimmable versions. The reduction in energy consumption translates into a lower monthly electric bill and an overall reduction in the carbon footprint.

Try creating a more flexible floor plan with your furniture. Move a piece or two from one room to another. Angle a sofa or reorient the seating to take advantage of a view or a natural breeze through an open window. Shifting pieces can give a room the appearance of more space, making it feel less cluttered.

For instant brightening, remove heavy draperies and roll up the rug. You can place lightweight panels, preferably organic cotton or linen, on the windows, or leave them uncovered if you don't need draperies for privacy. Leave hardwood floors bare or invest in an inexpensive natural fiber seagrass or jute floor cover for the summer.

Delight in de-cluttering
Spring brings the inspiration to cleanse and purge items no longer needed. In addition to sorting through closets and cupboards, give your home an airier look. Replace heavy accents like wood and ceramics with lighter pieces like baskets or glassware filled with flowers or fruit. Kleeman suggests storing a collection of carefully edited accessories to pull from for each season. Reposition artwork and add mirrors on walls, mantels or even bookshelves to open up a room and give the illusion of more space.

Shop and swap
For an eco-friendly seasonal update, Simmons recommends reusing or repurposing items you already have. A simple piece of furniture like a dresser or chair can be painted in a bright color to liven up a room. Or you might swap items that no longer fit your space with a group of friends or look for bargains in thrift stores or consignment shops. If you do need to purchase new items, look for selections using renewable or organic resources like bamboo, organic cotton or recycled glass.

Bring the outside in
Bring the natural goodness of the outdoors in by adding potted flowers and plants or window boxes. Simmons recommends visiting the local farmers market to find your favorite plants or flowers and place them in locations where you spend time daily. Plants not only add oxygen, but also brighten the indoor environment.

The key to smart decorating for hotter weather is not to overpower the existing elements. "Small changes can make a dramatic difference in the personality of a room," says Kleeman.

First-Time Home Buyer? Tips for a Smooth Sale

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In today’s age of information and high-tech, “here and now” devices – it’s no wonder that 90% of all buyers start their home search online. But if you’re a first-time home buyer there is more to preparing to buy a home than just browsing websites. To help you prepare, we’ve put together our top four tips that we feel every first-time buyer should know before getting started.

Assess Your Financial Outlook
This may seem like the most logical place to start but a lot of buyers tend to overlook the most important aspect of buying a home -- knowing what they can afford! When you meet with a mortgage professional you will receive more than just a guess of what you might be able to manage each month. A detailed financial consultation will help you to examine your debt-to-income ratio as well as other things like how buying a house fits in to your long-term financial goals.

Get a Pre-Approval From Your Lender
Your Realtor® will help you find a lender that makes sense for you. Like you would select your real estate agent, it’s important to work with a loan officer that understands your needs and truly connects with you. A valuable benefit of getting preapproved is to be able to demonstrate your financial strength, making yours a stronger more attractive offer that sellers take seriously.

Involve the Professionals When You Need Help
Rather than be tough and let go of the opportunity to ask for help when you need it, engage your real estate professional to be more effective throughout your home buying process. If something seems unattainable, or if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation – utilize the professional services and assistance of your real estate team, ask questions and get answers; that’s what they are there for!

Be Realistic In Your Expectations
Many first-time buyers have not had the opportunity to review our marketplace and get to know what’s out there. As a result, they don’t realize it when they are not being realistic. If you have special requirements or needs that could end up in being deal breakers for you during your purchase, share them with your Realtor® but trust the market when it comes to making minor adjustments to your expectations. An example is when buying a re-sale home versus new construction. If you know you will want a newer home, keep it in mind ahead of time and be sure to let your agent know.


We take great pride in providing nothing but the best service to our clients, whether you are a first time buyer or a long-time property investor. Regardless of your experience level in buying homes, we are there for you and will continue to serve you as needed.

As a first time buyer, the best tip of all is to have a strong, knowledgeable, reputable and experienced real estate agent by your side. We invite you to contact us today!

Important Safety Tips for Your Home While You Are Enjoying Vacation

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While I was away on vacation in Florida, I was thinking of you – my reader! Why? Because leaving on vacation always make me think about safety issues that I must address at my own home before packing the family up for a fun vacation.

With summer fast approaching, you might already have vacation on your I wanted to share with you on this little video clip my favorite safety tips. In fact, I have multiple critical steps to prepare your home for safe keeping while you're away, to keep your nest safe and secure.

This is exactly what I did to prepare my home while I'm away in Florida:

The best way to keep your home safe in your absence is to make it appear you are home, leaving absolutely no clue you're actually away. Light, time and noise are your greatest weapons to accomplish this. Follow these tips to ready your home and keep it safe:

- Ask someone you know and trust to keep an eye on your house.

For short trips, ask one of your neighbors to pick up your mail and your newspaper. If you are going to be gone longer, however, be sure to stop by the post office and have your home mail delivery stopped until you return.

Be sure to provide neighbors, friends and family members with emergency phone numbers so you can be reached quickly. It's a good idea to leave a spare house key with a relative or neighbor as well.

- At least a couple of weeks before you leave for vacation, decide what to do about your pets. You may want to have a friend or neighbor stop by each day to provide food, water and exercise. Or you may want to hire a professional pet sitting service or take the pets to a reputable kennel. This decision should be made well in advance so that proper arrangements can be made.

- Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to provide sound and illuminate the inside of your home.

- If you still have a home phone, change the setting on your answering machine so it picks up on the first or second ring—or just turn down the ringer. A constantly ringing phone is also a good sign no one is home.

- For long absences, you may want to turn off the main water valve. This will help avoid problems with frozen pipes in winter and leaking pipes in the warmer months as well as other plumbing issues.

- Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you're home.

- Keep bushes and shrubs near your home's entrance and walkway well trimmed. This will eliminate hiding spots for burglars.

- Keep the outside of your home well lit. Burglars won't go where they can be seen.

- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway, occasionally moving his or her car indicate your coming and going.

- Leave the air conditioner on. A silent compressor on a hot day is a good indication you aren't home.

- Have the lawn mowed my a friend or lawn service if you are away longer than a week in the warmer months.

- This one is tough for those addicted to Facebook but posting to Facebook where you are at all times you are not only sharing this with your 'friends'. Those posts and photos allow others to find out when you are away and where you are. This isn't as concerning when you are local as you could post a comment or photo as you are ON your way home or just arrived but when your, say, at Disney World, those with ill plans regarding your trip away from home.

- Be sure to turn down the temperature on the hot water heater and unplug televisions and other appliances. These appliances will be drawing electricity whether they are on or not. Unplugging them will help lower your electric bill.

- Turn your thermostats down (or up) before you leave. There is no reason to spend money heating or cooling the home when you are not there.

- Don't forget about the plants. If you are having a friend or pet sitter care for your pets, ask them to take care of your plants as well. Simply soaking the plants with water before you leave is not enough. A better idea is to create a self watering system if you cannot have someone care for the plants. For small plants, make a self watering system by filling a plastic container with pebbles. Then fill the bottom of the container with water. This allows the plants to slowly absorb the moisture they need, without the danger of their roots becoming waterlogged. Larger plants can be mulched with a damp towel or newspaper to prevent the loss of moisture.

- When the day to leave for vacation finally arrives, try not to make that departure too obvious to those passing by. If you have a garage, be sure to pack the car with the garage door closed. If you do not have a garage, you may want to pack a couple of items a day in order to avoid broadcasting to the world that your home will be unoccupied.

- This last tip isn't a security measure for your house but for your credit (you know I always care about that as well) as you need to keep tight check over your credit in order to purchase or refinance your home!

With all the excitement of the upcoming trip we sometimes get carried away, plan only for the trip and security of our home for while we are away and leave for our stress-free trip. But wait!! You suddenly realize the day before you return the date! You've missed your mortgage payment, car payment, credit card, and utility due dates by a week or more! This happens more than I'd like to hear and the credit company doesn't accept this as a viable hardship excuse. :-) So ensure you plan ahead. Go on and sit down to make all the payments needed to be made in advance before your trip and all those due up till a few days after your return for good measure to ensure you don't get tied up with the return home and forget this very important task to protect your credit rating!

As you can see, there is a lot to think about before you jump in the car or on a plane for vacation. Use this checklist as a way of bringing peace of mind to you and your family. Enjoy your vacations without worrying about the safety of your home while you're away.

As always, if you need anything from me, please don't hesitate to call or email!

Huntsville/Madison County Residential Sales Up 27% In February

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Huntsville/Madison County residential sales totaled 376 units for the month of February. There were 79 more housing units sold compared to February 2012. Restated, residential sales improved by 26.6 percent in February. Year-to-date, sales are up a solid 15.6 percent.

Supply: Huntsville housing inventory totaled 2,812 units, an increase of 2.5 percent from last February led by an increase in new home inventory of 17.7 percent. The inventory-to-sales ratio in February stood at 7.5 months of housing supply, this reflects a decrease of 19.0% from 9.2 months in February 2012. This figure still represents the best inventory balance between supply & demand in Alabama. February inventory in Huntsville experienced a 1.1 percent decrease when compared to the prior month. This direction is an improvement over historical data trends that indicates February inventory on average (’08-’12) increases from the month of January by 2.0 percent.

Demand: Existing single family home sales accounted for 64 percent (compared to 73% in Feb'12) of total sales, new homes sales accounted for 34 percent (up from 25% in Feb'12) while condos were 2 percent of sales (same as Feb'12).
Residential sales in February increased by 39.3 percent from the prior month. Historical Huntsville data reflects that February sales, on average (’08-’12), increase from the month of January by 6.2 percent. Huntsville residential sales in handily beat recent sales norms for February which is a positive indicator for the local market.

Pricing: The Huntsville median selling price in February was $167,210, an increase of 4.3 percent from last February. In contrast, this figure represents an decrease of 1.6 percent when compared to the prior month. Historical data ('08-'12) indicates that the February median selling price traditionally decreases from the month of January by 2.6 percent so this month's slip is narrower than recent trends and this is favorable news for the market.

What's the latest housing and economic outlook for 2013? Frank Nothalt, Freddie Mac vice president & chief economist shares, "Across the nation, most local housing markets have room for sustainable growth, particularly in home construction and sales. As the broader economy heals, expect to see more good news with home prices continuing their recent upward trend, and home sales and housing starts continuing to post strong growth rates."

View the current monthly Huntsville Residential Report here.

Crime Stoppers - Huntsville, AL

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Interview with Officer Nathan Nickelson, Police Officer with Huntsville Police Department

We have an amazing program here in our community that has reduced the number of unsolved crimes at a major level with very minimal community support.  We, at Amanda Howard Real Estate, were just made aware of this incredibly productive group 1.5 years ago and have been supporting them since then.

Unfortunately, as economic times have been hard on individuals and companies the last couple years, the small group of supporters that did support this group have pulled back on their contributions while the wise decisions of this small group of volunteers have put technology in place to aid in solving more crimes which equates to more rewards to pay out for the tips in solving these crimes.  So, I am here to not only INFORM you about this group but also let you know that this group is in a great need of your support!

This group is called CRIME STOPPERS.

I am impressed to report that for every $1.00 that Huntsville area Crime Stoppers spends on rewards, $39 in stolen property and narcotics is recovered.

Through Dec 2012 the Huntsville Area Crime Stoppers chapter was able to close 1,341 cases by making 181 arrests.  These kinds of results can't happen without your support.

In 2012 alone we paid out $27,850 in rewards for tips that lead to the police department solving these crimes.

The Huntsville area Crime Stoppers is one of the most successful tools available to keep our community safe!

Their continued successes because of the strong partnerships of the past and the new partnerships formed with neighbors and businesses.

In addition to looking for contributions and partnerships The Huntsville Area Crime Stoppers will be holding their 12th annual "Charity Auction" at Redstone Federal Credit Union on Wynn Drive on May 11th at 1:00.  We would love your attendance as well as we are asking for auction items.  You and your company have the power to make this event a huge success with your donation of goods or services.

Donations may be tax deductible.

You can hit the website for more answers to your questions.