Real estate markets are uniquely local.
That’s a statement supported by the fact that home sales in the city of Fort Smith remained constant in the first half of 2012, while sales amid the entire county slid 6.69% from the year-ago period, according to marketing firm, MountData.
Kevin King, broker with Weichert King Realtors in Fort Smith, said his firm has seen more folks moving into the city from the outskirts of town this year. He said some look to downsize lots and upkeep as kids leave the nest and others are moving to larger homes that can accommodate aging parents with locations nearer medical facilities.
During the first half of this year agents sold 422 homes in Fort Smith which is a lion’s share of the county total, according to King.
In the same timeframe, MountData reports Sebastian County had 530 sales compared to 568 last year. Though the number of sales declined total volume increased 1.47% to $71.243 million.
The higher volume relates to an 8.65% spike in median home prices across the county from a year ago. The median home price was $113,000 among all sales in the first half of 2012, according to MountData.
King said the Fort Smith market has been "remarkably stable" in light of the jobs lost this year, which has kept employment levels elevated.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics show the Fort Smith metro area’s unemployment rate stood at 7.7% in May, up from April, but lower than the 8.3% rate a year ago.
King said as jobs have evaporated in the Fort Smith market, property prices have remained fairly stable largely because foreclosures have not been a major problem in the past few years.
“We are seeing more short sales come to light, now that much of the foreclosure litigation has been worked through with the major lenders,” King said.
While short sales can have a negative impact on prices, King says they are a much better alternative to foreclosure for the seller and neighborhood values.
In a short sale the lender agrees to take less than what is it owed against the house. The seller is allowed to accept the contract and close the deal while still living in the home. After closing, the new buyer takes possession, which eliminates a home from being vacated and left empty for months or years at a time while a foreclosure is completed.
For the month of June, there were 121 homes sold in the Sebastian County, up 8.03% from a year ago. Median home prices were $120,475, up sharply from $100,000 in the same month of 2011, according to MountData.
In the adjacent county of Crawford, MountData shows there were 270 homes sold in the first half of this year.
While this was basically flat with the 268 sales a year ago, the total volume rose 6.05% to $31.538 million as home prices have begun to appreciate.
The median home price totaled $110,000 in the first six months of 2012, this compared to $105,000 a year earlier.
In the single month of June agents had lighter pay days as there were 48 sales in the county, down 34.24% from the prior year.
June’s sales volume totaled $6.255 million, down 15.9% from the $7.439 million recorded a year ago. The homes selling last month were 16.47% more expensive than those who sold in June 2011. The median price-per-square-foot was $72.1, compared to $61.9 a year ago, according to MountData.
Home Sales (January through June)
2012: 530 units, $71.243 million
2011: 568 units, $70.206 million
2010: 678 units, $88.254 million
2012: 270 units, $31.538 million
2011: 268 units, $29.738 million
2010: 279 units, $33.551 million
Median Home Price (January through June)