Editor’s note: In January 2012, Talk Business adopted The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report, which provides monthly home sales data for major metro markets in Arkansas that constitute more than 70% of home sales activity. The report is sponsored by Fort Smith-based Westark Plumbing.
First quarter 2012 home sales and the value of homes sold in Arkansas’ four largest metro areas are up 4.37% compared to the 2011 period thanks to continued low interest rates.
The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report captures home sales data in the state’s 14 most populated counties among the state’s four largest metro areas contained primarily within the state — Central Arkansas, 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.
The March report shows 3,675 home sales in the 14 counties during the first three months of 2012, compared to 3,521 in the 2011 period. The first quarter sales are also greater than those in 2010 and 2009, but are down almost 11% compared to 2008.
The combined value of homes sold in the reporting area during the first quarter of 2012 totaled $566.083 million, up 9.7% compared to the 2011 period and up 9.27% compared to the 2010 period. The average price for homes sold during the first quarter in the four markets was $154,036, up 4.37% compared to the 2011 period and up 6.24% compared to the 2010 period.
Central Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-March 2012: 1,733
Jan.-March 2011: 1,645
Jan.-March 2010: 1,811
Fort Smith area — Home sales
Jan.-March 2012: 343
Jan.-March 2011: 336
Jan.-March 2010: 374
Jonesboro area — Home sales
Jan.-March 2012: 371
Jan.-March 2011: 409
Jan.-March 2010: 395
Northwest Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-March 2012: 1,228
Jan.-March 2011: 1,131
Jan.-March 2010: 993
The top five counties in terms of Jan.-March 2012 home sales:
Pulaski — 817, up compared to 769 in Jan.-March 2011
Benton — 770, up compared to 684 in Jan.-March 2011
Washington — 458, up compared to 447 in Jan.-March 2011
Craighead — 287, down compared to 337 in Jan.-March 2011
Saline — 259, up compared to 246 in Jan.-March 2011
Jonesboro was the only large market to see a first quarter 2012 decline — down 9.29% — in the number of homes sold compared to the 2011 period. The Central Arkansas area was up 5.35% during the first quarter, the Northwest Arkansas was up 8.58% and the Fort Smith region was up 2.08%.
Paul Bynum, analyst with MountData.com who provides market data for the Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith areas, said consumers are feeling a little more confident as indicated by stable measurements in both the Michigan Sentiment Index and the Consumer Confidence Index.
However, he cautioned against too much optimism, saying unemployment rates and stagnant wage growth for consumers still present some threat to overall economy recovery.
Ron Calhoun, owner and broker with Ron Calhoun & Associates of Fort Smith, said he’s optimistic 2012 will be stronger than 2011 and with good reason.
“Our business is up 11% through the first three months of this year and we are seeing more people out and about in a buying mood,” Calhoun said.
He said foreclosures are not a big factor in Sebastian and Crawford counties, which has helped keep prices fairly stable when compared to other areas in the state.
Denise Carle, broker with Carle Properties in Little Rock, said she’s noticed activity picking up considerably over the past few months. She’s been a realtor for 13 years and said, historically, her business has been slow from Thanksgiving through the first half of February. This winter was different for her.
“It’s been busy since November,” she said. “It’s been picking up. Real estate’s fun again. … I just hope it keeps up.”
Carle said she’s not sure why business has improved, but believes it might have something to do with the fact she offers sellers a flat fee of $495 rather than a commission. The savings realized, she said, have put some of her sellers in a position where they can realistically list their houses for less than competing home owners and still come out ahead financially.
Carle said she believes the real estate industry is changing and flat fee brokerages may become more common.
Brenda Dacus, with Fred Dacus and Associates in Jonesboro, said the market in her area has remained “slow and steady” over the past few years. Some years have been better than others, but both sales and prices have remained more or less consistent.
Dacus said Jonesboro is fortunate in that it has a diverse economy. There was a time when the agricultural industry was the only game in town, but city leaders made the decision to form Jonesboro Unlimited in the 1980s to attract different businesses when it was clear that agriculture was in decline, she said.
Link here to a pdf of the complete results.