The average Arkansas home sales price may be down more than 2% for sales during the first seven months of 2014, but the number of homes sold is up almost 6% and the value of the sales are up 6.59%. It’s an impressive pace considering the gains posted in 2013.
Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest metro areas during the first seven months of 2014 totaled 12,504, up 5.63% compared to the same period in 2013, according to The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report. The average price per home sold in the four markets was $164,494, down 2.12% compared to the same period in 2013, and the total value of $2.056 billion in the four markets was up 3.38%.
The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report captures home sales data in the state’s 14 most populated counties within its four largest metro areas — Central Arkansas, the Fort Smith area, Jonesboro/Northeast Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas. The report, which records closed sales, accounts for between 70% and 75% of total Arkansas home sales.
Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, said she is not surprised by the housing market numbers.
“I hate to sound like a broken record, but in the uncertain interest rate environment that we are in, unit gains will be on the positive side,” Deck said, explaining that consumers and investors likely are buying before interest rates increase.
July home sales totaled 2,193, up 7.03% in the four markets compared to July 2013, and up 31.24% compared to July 2012. The average price per home in the four markets during July was $174,858, up 0.48% compared to July 2013, and up 6.41% compared to July 2012.
There were 1,069 homes sold in central Arkansas, up 13.24% compared to July 2013, and up 35.49% compared to July 2012.
July home sales totaled 722 in Northwest Arkansas, down 0.69% compared to July 2013, and up 20.33% compared to July 2012.
Jonesboro area home sales totaled 214, up 4.9% compared to July 2013 and up 34.39% compared to July 2012.
In the Fort Smith area, home sales totaled 188, up 8.05% compared to July 2013, and up 52.85% compared to July 2012.
The total value of the sales during July were up 11.45% in central Arkansas, up 2.52% in Northwest Arkansas, up 14.56% in the Jonesboro area, and up 2.29% in the Fort Smith region.
THE REGIONAL PICTURE: 2014
Central Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-July 2014: 5,958
Jan.-July 2013: 5,573
Jan.-July 2012: 5,069
Fort Smith area — Home sales
Jan.-July 2014: 1,133
Jan.-July 2013: 964
Jan.-July 2012: 926
Jonesboro area — Home sales
Jan.-July 2014: 1,289
Jan.-July 2013: 1,096
Jan.-July 2012: 970
Northwest Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-July 2014: 4,476
Jan.-July 2013: 4,205
Jan.-July 2012: 3,573
The top five counties in terms of Jan.-July 2014 home sales:
Pulaski — 2,759, up compared to 2,596 in 2013
Benton — 2,615, down compared to 2,632 in 2013
Washington — 1,509, down compared to 1,573 in 2013
Craighead — 1,030, up compared to 865 in 2013
Saline — 964, up compared to 870 in 2013
Link here for a PDF document of the July 2014 data.
PRICES AND CONSUMER CONFIDENCE
Deck said there is enough uncertainty in the market that people are hesitant to jump in and buy homes unless they believe they are purchasing at price points that will hold value in the years to come. For that reason, Deck said there is downward pressure on prices and that will likely continue until consumer confidence picks up in response to a clearly improving economy and jobs market.
“Overall, the report is positive,” Deck said. “There is no reason to be too concerned. It looks like things are pretty well in balance.”
As for the July numbers, Deck noted there was a very slight increase in average sales prices in the areas covered. She said that is probably an anomaly and the year-to-year trend of falling prices more accurately describes market conditions.
Phillip Taldo, broker with Weichert Realtors, the Griffin Company in Northwest Arkansas, is confident in good numbers for the remainder of 2014.
“This summer has been flat. It really has not been extraordinary in terms of new home and existing home sales. But, this pace appears to be sustainable and that’s not bad given the record year in 2013,” Taldo said.
Taldo, also a new home builder, said that sales market slowed in the summer, but starts have been steady. Aside from a healthy relocation business, Taldo said the uptick in home prices and the low interest rates are giving more people an opportunity to sell their home and move up.
Mont Sagely, the principal broker and owner of Sagely & Edwards Realtors in Fort Smith, said the sales figures for the year in that market are a welcome change.
"That pleases me that Crawford County has started to come back because Greenwood, Alma, and Van Buren (have) been sluggish for the longest time," he said.
The rise in home values, Sagely said, also show that the economy locally is starting to pick up pace with the rest of the nation in terms of jobs and economic development.
"In the River Valley area, it's always been a lagger in keeping pace with the (national) economy," he said. "So I think what we're seeing is finally what the rest of the nation has been seeing. Like when we saw the downfall, we didn't see it as fast as the rest of the nation did. But we're finally reaping the benefits of the strong sales across the country. I think that is probably the reason why, because these two counties have always been slow to respond to the national economic trends."