Arkansas home sales up 8% in November

Editor’s note: This is the November 2012 report of The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report. The report, released monthly, accounts for between 70% and 75% of total Arkansas home sales.

The combined number of home sales in Arkansas’ largest markets were up more than 8% in November, putting the residential real estate sector on a path toward two consecutive years of increases.

The combined home sales value was up more than 10% for the month.

There were 1,417 homes sold during November in the four large market areas measured by The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report, up 8.17% compared to November 2011, and up 22.9% compared to November 2010.

The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report captures home sales data in the state’s 14 most populated counties within the state’s four largest metro areas — 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 total value of November homes sold in the four markets was $228.622 million, up 10% compared to November 2011, and up almost 25% compared to November 2010. The average sales price of a home sold in the four markets during November was $161,342, ahead of the $158,617 during November 2011.

Gains in home sales were up in all areas except Fort Smith. The Jonesboro region had the highest percentage gain, with November home sales up 18.46% compared to November 2011.

November home sales were down 5.59% in the Fort Smith area (Crawford and Sebastian counties), and were up 7.7% in central Arkansas and up 10.39% in Northwest Arkansas.

Regionally, the number of homes sold during the first 11 months of 2012 are up in central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas, and down in the Fort Smith and Jonesboro metro areas.

During the first 11 months of the year, home sales in the four markets totaled 16,882, up slightly over the 16,458 in the same period of 2011, and up 3.59% compared to the same period in 2010.

For the first 11 months of 2012, the value of homes sold in the four markets totaled $2.751 billion, up 11.8% compared to the same period of 2011, and up 10.24% compared to the same period of 2010.

The average days on market for a home in the four combined markets during the first 11 months of 2012 was 96.05, an improvement over the 102.29 during the same period of 2011, but longer than the 96.05 during the 2011 period.

Central Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-Nov. 2012: 8,167
Jan.-Nov. 2011: 7,831
Jan.-Nov. 2010: 8,175

Fort Smith area — Home sales
Jan.-Nov. 2012: 1,496
Jan.-Nov. 2011: 1,563
Jan.-Nov. 2010: 1,571

Jonesboro area — Home sales
Jan.-Nov. 2012: 1,626
Jan.-Nov. 2011: 1,628
Jan.-Nov. 2010: 1,632

Northwest Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-Nov. 2012: 5,593
Jan.-Nov. 2011: 5,436
Jan.-Nov. 2010: 4,919

The top five counties in terms of Jan.-November 2012 home sales:
Pulaski — 3,858, up compared to 3,605 in Jan.-Nov. 2011
Benton — 3,513, up compared to 3,322 in Jan.-Nov. 2011
Washington — 2,080, down compared to 2,114 in Jan.-Nov. 2011
Saline — 1,279, up compared to 1,248 in Jan.-Nov. 2011
Craighead — 1,264, down compared to 1,329 in Jan.-Nov. 2011

Link here for a PDF document of the November 2012 data.

Ken Gill, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker RPM in Maumelle, said he's not surprised to see year-to-date sales and average prices in Pulaski County up compared to the first nine months of 2011.

“It's hard to put a finger on it,” he said. “What I've noticed is that people are ready to get this situation over with. I think the economy is starting to pick up and people have a positive attitude. It's long overdue.”

Gill said his office received multiple offers on properties for the first time in a long time, with quality homes selling within 30 days. He said those are two welcome signs after a “five year drought.” Gill said he expects markets to continue improving in 2013.

“People feel better about housing,” he said.

Sherlyn Blackwell, a Realtor with Fred Dacus Associates in Jonesboro, said an unusual characteristic of her area – the fact that sales in 2010, 2011 and 2012 outpaced those in 2005 when markets were booming – makes sense.

“We have been very fortunate here,” she said. “We're just growing so very, very fast.”

Blackwell said commercial development activity has been on the rise over the past few years as new businesses have moved to town and existing ones have expanded. That commercial growth has led to more jobs and more people coming to the area to fill them.

She, like Gill, expects that growth to continue in 2013.

Michael Pakko, University of Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement chief economist and state economic forecaster, said he expected markets to pick up in 2012. In spite of some slow sales in the summer, markets are on track to do just that.

However, Pakko said the numbers are compared to 2011, one of the worst years in recent history for real estate sales.

George Faucette, CEO of the local Coldwell Banker franchise in Northwest Arkansas, said 2012 has been good for his firm, the largest in the region.

“Through today (Dec. 17), our firm has done close to $450 million in sales, that compares to $350 million last year, which is a nice 28.5% increase. I am hopeful, but still somewhat cautious about 2013, given what we have seen these past five years,” Faucette said.

Nicky Dou, executive broker for Century 21 Exclamation Realty in Northwest Arkansas, said she has closed more deals in December – typically a slow month – than any other month in 2012.

“If the ending of 2012 is a preview of what 2013 has in store then I am extremely excited because 2012 was my best year in real estate since I began in 2001,” Dou said.

Kevin King, broker/agent with the local Weichert franchise in Fort Smith, said the price reduction in November is likely related to more investor activity in the market trying to close ahead of the year-end. He said homeowners and investors alike could have tax reasons for wanting to close their real estate deal in 2012, as the capital gains tax and other tax questions remain in jeopardy for 2013.

The median home price in Sebastian County was $111,500 in November, down from $125,500 in the same month of 2011. But through the 11-month period home prices have trended higher overall. At $118,000 Sebastian County shows an $8,000 gain in median sales price from 2011, according to

King said sellers wanting to close by year-end would likely take less for their properties in some cases which could help drive the overall prices downward.

King reports a stable 2012, saying his firm is on track to match or do slightly better than their 2011 results.

“One positive thing I have noticed lately is a shorter time on market for homes selling. These are homes getting near asking price, not the distressed or greatly reduced properties. The average here is 155 days, but we are seeing more homes going under contract within 60 days,” King said.