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2023 Development Review studies Huntsville’s growth and residential market

Published on February 27, 2024

Huntsville’s residential building boom appears to be catching its breath after years of construction at a furious pace. However, with continued growth in population and new jobs, forecasts indicate that 2024 will still be higher than the 10-year average for residential construction, a study from the City’s Long-Range Planning Division reveals.

An aerial shot of Downtown Huntsville as captured in January 2024. There are numerous buildings and major roads visible. It is primarily focused on the downtown and includes many major landmarks, including the Von Braun Center and City hall.
Photo credit: GTEC/Marty Sellers

The 2023 Huntsville Development Review showed the city’s population is continuing to grow even as the real estate market for single-family homes moderates.  Data for this report was obtained from City records and the Valley Multiple Listing Service.

“The 2023 Development Review data is a good indicator of Huntsville’s economy.  Residential and commercial sectors remain strong and well above our 10-year averages,” said Shane Davis, the City’s Director of Urban and Economic Development. “The data confirms our strategy of managing growth while maintaining a good quality of life.”

Over the past three years, Davis said the City has been very strategic with industrial growth opportunities to ensure the thousands of existing job openings can be filled from recent industrial growth.  In addition, the data illustrates that public investments remain robust to handle population growth such that the Huntsville community remains a very desirable place to live and work.

“I believe if you look at the past several years of Development Review data, you will find that Huntsville continues to stay focused on making the correct investments that allow the market to remain economically strong going forward,” Davis said.

High demand for single-family housing

The demand for single-family lots continues to be high. There were 1,284 single-family lots approved in 2023, the seventh year in a row with above-average approvals. The approvals were also the third-most in the last decade.

Certificates of occupancy for single-family homes also increased by 5.8% in 2023 with 1,242 homes receiving COs. Single-family home construction remains consistent while multi-family and townhome sectors have seen an increase in construction.

In 2023, the City experienced a record number of (4,693 units) housing units receiving certificates of occupancy. It’s the most residential certificates of occupancy issued by the City since record keeping began in 1983 and an increase of 26.2% from 2022. For comparison, the 10-year average of residential COs is 2,289.

Multi-family and townhome product drove the record numbers in 2023, accounting for 74% of the total number of housing units.

“We’re seeing growth all over the city,” James Vandiver of the City’s planning department said. “Traditional growth areas such as West Huntsville and Hampton Cove/Big Cove areas continue to thrive, but the city is also experiencing multiple new developments in North Huntsville along with Hays Farm in south Huntsville and Lowe Mill in the middle of the city. Trailhead on Chapman Mountain is another hotspot. (Highway) 72 east has been active for both multi-family and single-family developments.”

There were 14 multi-family complexes completed in 2023, the most in Huntsville since 1984.  Another 43 complexes are under construction with 10,784 units approved. According to data from Axiometrics, multi-family occupancy rates remain above 90% for the Huntsville market.  Although this data shows that Huntsville remains a strong development market, the new volume coming online should help moderate rent growth.

The commercial permitting continues to illustrate strong growth in both retail and hospitality sectors, with moderate growth in the office market.  This commercial growth is indicative of the continued population growth trends and the arrival of new companies that continue to see Huntsville as a favorable growth market.

Finally, the 2023 data shows that public and institutional investments remain robust to accommodate Huntsville’s growth.  The City issued permits for 193 projects for categories such as education, places of worship, recreation, aviation, and other quality of life services.  Over the past three years, the City has issued over 760 permits for projects in these types of categories.

Other insights revealed in the 41-page report:

  • $556 million — value of residential new construction permitted in 2023
  • 4,415 — residential building units permitted
  • 12,359 — housing units added since April 1, 2020
  • $392,725 — average home sales price, a record high
  • 3,044 — number of homes sold
  • 235,204 — estimated population as of July 2023
  • 992.7— number of acres annexed into Huntsville in 2023