How the Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Market Survived the Economic Meltdown

Article by Carol Jacobs

Early in its history Huntsville and the surrounding areas thrived as a merchant city of tobacco, watercress, and of course cotton textiles. This was the constant until the 1940s and 1950s which gave way to the US Army coming in and establishing chemical munitions plants ( on the 38,000 acre Redstone Arsenal ) and the forming of the ordinance guided missile center under lead German scientist Wernher von Braun. Today there is a civilian workforce slightly under 14,000 people on Redstone Arsenal. This cooperation with the military as government workers would provide one of the founding pillars of the economy for the future of Huntsville.

Once this team was established, slow and steady progress was being made on the commercial side of missile & aerospace, and this would evolve today into missile defense and commercial aerospace flight programs and testing. Eventually though the commercial aspect picked up the pace quickly through government contracting. Today many of these government contracting businesses exist in Huntsville and some have branched off from being only based on government contracts. This would become the second pillar.

Science, technology, and biotechnology came as a side effect of the main pioneers on Redstone Arsenal. Cummings Research Park ( now 4,000 acres ) was founded as Huntsville Research Park in 1962. Companies such as IBM, Northrup, and Lockheed would soon fill this space surrounded by many smaller independent companies including the most recent biotechnology center Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology. This corporate sciences and technology would make up the third pillar.

The fourth pillar is purely an economic one. It is a strong sense of economic planning and planning for growth. For years there has been steady city and county population growth leading to a larger tax base and a constant small job growth as well, keeping jobs available to the public. Huntsville has managed to ground its value of its homes and appraise them realistically to not lead to housing bubbles of inflated prices. This helped when the economic hit did come, that these homes did not lose value like surrounding states such as Florida did. There was a buoyancy that allowed the listing prices of homes to drift away from normal appraisal value but with lower than national employment levels the homeowners were still able to pay their mortgages and keep values at a nominal level so they weren't underwater. City and County economic planning cooperation has done well to weather the national financial storm.

These four areas of Government/Civilian Employees, Government Contracting, Corporate Science and Technology, and Realistic Economic Planning have helped Huntsville to stay afloat in difficult times as other areas have declined in prosperity.

Carol Jacobs has been a Realtor & Broker within the Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Market for years and has been giving advice to clients and agents alike. For advice or more information on the market feel free to go to