story by Kim Souza
Agents across Northwest Arkansas say 2013 is off to a good start with two months of business already in the books.
During February, agents sold 405 homes in Benton and Washington counties with a net value of $65.66 million, up 8.3% from the year-ago period, according to MountData.com.
Vicki Briolat, agent with Crye Leike in Bentonvile, said more than a week ago she had closed enough deals in 2013 to earn a decent year’s income.
“We have been incredibly busy and March should also be another strong month with the number of pending transactions waiting to close,” Briolat said.
Paul Bynum of MountData.com reports 600 pending transactions at the end of February and agrees this is a leading indicator for strong future sales.
Coldwell Banker, the region’s largest firm in terms of sales volume, reported an 11% increase in its closed business during the month of February. George Faucette, co-owner of the local Coldwell Banker franchise, said the firm had $55 million in written business last month, which includes pending sales and a few transactions that closed early.
The firm’s written business rose 37% from a year ago in the month of February, according to Faucette.
He agreed sales should continue to trend higher in March and hopefully throughout the entire spring and summer selling season. Faucette attributes the sales increase to an improving job market and slightly stronger consumer confidence readings. He says new demand is being fueled from younger folks establishing new households as well existing homeowners looking to sell and move up now that prices have seemed to stabilize and interest rates remain incredibly low — 3.56% nationally during February.
Last month median home sales prices rose 3.65% in Benton County to $134,750, but the biggest increase was seen in Washington County according to MountData.com. At $139,000, the median home sale price rose 15.8% in Washington County during February when compared to the prior year.
Bynum says 2013 is on course to be a strong growth year as underlying metrics such as inventory and demand are moving in the right direction. There were 3,162 homes listed for sale at the end of February, 205 of those were new construction. Inventory is down 9% from a year ago.
Homes priced under $150,000 are deemed to be in a seller’s market, with a 4-to 5-month supply of inventory listed for sale, according to Bynum. The inventory is much tighter for homes priced under $100,000, he said.
Faucette expects prices to remain fairly stable this year with a modest 3% to 5% increase from a year ago provided the foreclosures continue to gradually work their way through the pipeline. He predicts it will take another 24 months to work through the backlog of foreclosure homes than have languished since 2011.
“Through February our written business is up 42% from the same timeframe in 2012. I am feeling pretty good about the prospects for a stronger 2013,” Faucette said.
NWA Home Sales Data (January-February)
2013: $129.011 million
2012: $114.654 million
Median Sales Price