By Ally Morrison
Anna-Marie Ellison is in the thick of the real estate market as president of the Birmingham Association of Realtors and managing partner for ERA King, a position from which she oversees all 10 offices in Central Alabama, Tuscaloosa and, most recently, Huntsville.
A native of Homewood, she fled immediately upon embarking on her college career. But after college, she returned to her home.
“I spent so many years ready to move away from the city I grew up in,” Ellison said. “But I realized that I really love what makes Homewood Homewood.”
Ellison, who got her real estate license in 2006, shared trends she’s noticed lately in the local real estate market as she works with buyers to find their own special homes.
“Buyers are very interested in the walkability and proximity of potential neighborhoods,” Ellison said. “The ability to walk to restaurants, schools and entertainment has been huge. A lot of websites buyers visit now have a walkability score. They’re starting to rate houses based on proximity to amenities.”
Another trend Ellison has noticed, especially since the pandemic began, is that home buyers want less drive time.
According to Ellison, new technology has given real estate agents the ability to search for houses in a particular price range by the amount of time it takes to drive to specific locations that are important to the buyer.
“For someone who wants to live 10 to 15 minutes away from work, this has made a huge difference,” Ellison said. “How much time people spend in their car, until recently, has never been something that people prioritize in our area.”
In addition to proximity and drive time, Ellison explained buyers have most recently been conceding on the condition of properties because of the options in front of them.
“I see this as more of a short-term trend,” Ellison said. “It’s not necessarily because buyers’ desires are changing, but more so because of what is available right now.”
Ellison made some predictions for what the next few years of home buying and selling will look like based on pandemic repercussions and supply chain issues.
“Before the pandemic, most people spent a small amount of time awake in their homes,” Ellison said. “When the pandemic hit, people went from being awake in their homes for maybe 5 hours, to 16 hours. It made people reevaluate how they were spending their time at home.”
“Additionally, the market is still suffering from inventory issues because of the recession in 2008. Government overlays have created a hindrance for new construction homes to get permits for building.”
Steering the Ship
Being president of the Birmingham Association of Realtors puts Ellison in a captain’s position when it comes to reacting to forces at work on agents.
“I help steer the ship,” Ellison said. “There’s a lot of outside pressure to remove the real estate agent from the center of the transaction. One of my responsibilities as president of the association is to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
While some home buyers and sellers have been trying to navigate the process on their own, Ellison said having a real estate agent involved can not only offer buyers and sellers with more choices but also smooth out the experience for both sides.
“It’s hard to run a team when you don’t have a quarterback,” Ellison said. “I think of the agent as that quarterback. They’re coordinating with everyone on the field to make sure that they cross the finish line and close on the house.