Northwest Arkansas home sales pace slowed in April

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

Northwest Arkansas real estate agents report an active sales market but numbers from MountData.com indicate a slowing pace across the two-country area. There were 575 total transactions in Benton and Washington counties to start the spring selling season. Unit sales in April slid 6.35% from the 614 reported a year ago.

Paul Bynum, analyst with MountData.com, said sales are strong but the numbers are compared to highly robust year in 2013.

Benton County fared better than its neighbor with 382 sales, which was three more than sold a year ago. Total volume sales were flat at $73.253 million. Washington County sales totaled $33.361 million in volume, down 26% from a year ago. Unit sales fell 17.8% to 193 homes sold in the county.

Real estate veteran George Faucette told The City Wire that April has been his firm's strongest month this year. He said sales were mixed during the past four months with January sales higher and February sales lower year-over-year. He also noted that new written business, while moving up nicely year to date, was down when compared to 2013. Faucette is the co-owner and CEO of the local Coldwell Banker franchise, which is the largest agency in the region with 17.13% of the market sales through April.

"Our sales have been really strong through the first half of May, but we are not quite on par with last year. I think by mid-summer the market will catch up with the better 2013 numbers. One of my agents in Rogers told me today she has already sold more homes this year than she did in all of 2013. Some agents are doing quite well in this market," Faucette said.

Harold Crye, CEO of Crye-Leike Real Estate, said his firm’s NWA home sales totaled $38.5 million during April, compared to $37.4 million a year ago. Through the first four months of 2014, Crye said his NWA agents have sold 745 properties valued at $112 million. This gives the firm roughly a 11.5% market share in terms of units sold.

MountData reports there have been 2,002 units sold during the first four months of this year with a total volume of roughly $357 million, down about 3% from a year ago. It took an average of 64 days to sell a home and the sales to list price ratio was 97.8%, which is an improvement for sellers.

CASH, QUICK CLOSINGS
Helen Dankser, an agent with Crye-Leike in Bella Vista, said she wrote nine contracts in April and that included one cash deal that closed within eight days of listing. 

“I showed the home the morning after it was listed the prior afternoon. There were five other appointments that same day. My buyers offered $1,000 over asking price with a clean cash deal and the sellers took it immediately. They didn’t entertain any other offers,” Dansker said.

She also is working on another cash deal now in Bella Vista, which is set to close May 20. Dansker said the home was on the market about one week. While inventory is a little tighter than in past years, Dankser said there are plenty of homes for buyers to chose from in most price categories. She said inventory is tight enough where multiple offers are prompting buyers to pay more than asking price.

“I have a closing toward this end of this month. My seller got two offers, one for $5,000 over asking and one for $500 over asking. The seller took the $500 over deal because it  did not have contingencies like the other deal,” she said.

Through four months of sales in 2014 the median asking price is $144,400 in Benton County, down 3% from a year ago. Prices were lower in Washington County with a median reading of $126,506 through April, down 6% from a year ago, according to MountData.com.

Pricing per square foot moved up from $80 to $82 in Benton County through April. In Washington County the median price per square foot was $85.5, up slightly from a year ago.

Vicki Briolat, an agent with Crye-Leike in Bentonville, said she closed nearly $1 million in sales last month. Those included a couple relocating here from Benton, a couple moving to a larger home in Fayetteville after selling their home in Elkins and a seller relocating outside the region.

“Our office is busy, not frantic, but it’s a nice pace we can live with,” Briolat said.

HOME SALES (January through April)
Benton County
Sales Volume
2014:  $230.943 million
2013:  $233.089 million
-0.90%

Units Sold
2014: 1,281
2013: 1,291
-0.85%

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Median Sales Price
2014: $144,400
2013: $148,975
-3.07%

Washington County
Sales Volume
2014: $126.506 million
2013: $134.750 million
-6.11%

Units Sold
2014: 721
2013: 781
-7.68%

Median Sales Price
2014: $145,725
2013: $145,000
0.5%

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