The Baldwin County Monthly Housing Report for the end of 2017, recently released by the Baldwin County Realtors Association (BCAR), gives the most recent update on residential real estate trends in the area. According to the report, that residential market is experiencing a shortage of existing homes and condos, an increase in selling prices and a decrease in the average number of days a home is on the market.

Although the number of existing properties decreased last year by 50 homes from the year prior (2016) and condos have decreased by about 15, new home sales have increased by 70 from last year, according to BCAR’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report.

Additionally, the number of total properties sold in December 2017 decreased by 8 percent, to 521 from the previous year’s high of 567. Average selling price was $288,761, an increase of 32 percent from the 2016 price of $218,520. Average days a property was on the market decreased by 39 percent to 98, from 2016’s average of 161.

The number of new construction units on the market in December 2017 increased to 649 from the previous December’s 189. Active inventory in December 2017 was 3,067 total residential units, and a total sales volume of $150,444,959.

Finally, in each category, the average days on the market from 2016 to 2017 decreased — from 150 to 90 for existing residential properties, from 166 to 87 for condos and from 181 to 128 for new construction.

BCAR is a professional trade group with a membership of 1,900 in the Baldwin County region. BCAR supports members through professional education, peer networking and MLS services.

Commercial real estate moves
• According to White-Spunner Realty, the Brewer Center, a planned mixed-use development with outparcels available for retail and restaurant use, is currently under development near the corner of Schillinger Road and Hitt Road in West Mobile.

Currently the site has six outparcels, covering roughly one acre each, available for development ranging in cost from around $77,000 to $88,000 per year to lease. Another section encompasses around 7 acres, available for an annual lease price of $130,000.

Altogether the seven outparcels cover 557,568 square feet of building area available for use. The site, including housing, measures around 37 acres according to plans. Area retailers near the site include Kohl’s, Super Target, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, AMC Theatres, Lowe’s, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Hobby Lobby and Rouses Market. The development is also located within one mile of Mobile Regional Airport.

• According to Vallas Realty Inc., Delaney Property Group LLC recently closed on two acres at Rangeline Crossing in Tillmans Corner. Delaney plans to develop more than 12,000 square feet of retail space for lease. Current leases have been executed with Spark Wireless, a T-Mobile dealer and a Sherwin-Williams Home Décor Center.

Coumanis Allen will be the general contractor for the project, set to be delivered in June. Rangeline Crossing is an 80-acre mixed-use development that will be home to the new 60,000-square-foot Veterans Administration facility currently undergoing construction at the development.   

• The current location of Penelope’s Closet, located at 63 N. Florida St., has been purchased by a local investor for $185,000, according to Adam Metcalfe of Metcalfe and Co. Inc., which handled the transaction.

Penelope’s Closet will be relocating to a recently purchased 9,000-square-foot building at 2907 Old Shell Road. Metcalfe represented Penelope’s Closet and Mike McAleer with The McAleer Tunstall Co. worked for the seller.

• Tellus Partners and Varden Capital Properties recently acquired the 147-unit, 6,000-square-foot residential site Tower on Ryan Park for $7.5 million, located at 758 St. Michael St. in Mobile. Jim Adams and Craig Hey with Chicago-based Cushman & Wakefield Advisory Group worked for the seller, Tower on Ryan Park LLC.

• Julie Martin of Port City Realty and Gallery 450 in downtown Mobile recently reported that their office will be moving to the corner of Jackson and St. Michael streets after Mardi Gras.

“We have been looking at what we have done over the past 3.5 years and we have been discussing how we can do better,” Martin said. “We will moving to this location after Mardi Gras. For the first time, ArtWalk will have galleries open on Conti, Dauphin, St. Michael and St. Louis streets. We will also still coordinate pop-up markets, fundraisers and community events.”

Grand opening at the new location is scheduled to coincide with the March 9 Artwalk. 

• As initially reported in Lagniappe’s cuisine column, Lit Cigar Lounge is expected to inhabit roughly 2,600 square feet of space formerly occupied by Dahlia’s Electric Piano Bar, located at 258 Dauphin St. in downtown Mobile’s entertainment district. Plans were solidified after approval by the Mobile City Planning Commission.

United Way of SW Alabama to offer charitable tax services
The United Way of Southwest Alabama has announced the rollout again this year of its South Alabama Free E-File (SAFE) Coalition to for eligible taxpayers to receive free tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, according to a news release.

The sites are staffed by volunteers, trained and certified by the IRS, who will work with individuals to determine if they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other refundable tax credits.

Volunteers at VITA sites prepare and electronically file tax returns at no cost for those with a 2017 household income of $54,000 or less. Taxpayers age 60 and over are also eligible for free tax preparation through the TCE program.

This tax season, it is estimated that approximately 26 million working families and individuals will claim the EITC. The refund can make up as much as 30 percent of annual income.

“We want to get the word out to those who are eligible to file a tax return even if they don’t owe any taxes to claim the EITC and other tax credits,” VITA Program Director Brad Martin said.

Those with 2017 household income of $66,000 or less are eligible to file their own federal and state tax returns for free using UWSWSA’s software, which is accessible through the program. For more information, visit their website.