story by Kim Souza
Realtors in Benton and Washington counties report mixed results during a February plagued with nasty winter weather. The Benton County market is off to another strong start in 2014, while Washington County unit sales and total volume slid again in February against the year-ago period.
Total sales in February for the combined two counties exceeded $78.58 million, compared to $73.17 million a year ago. Benton County sales climbed 22% from a year ago, while Washington County sales fell 11.7%.
Nicky Dou, broker with Keller Williams in Bentonville, said the snow and cold weather did not have a negative impact on her business last month.
“We wrote 18 contracts in February. I had one weekend that although I didn’t even leave my house due to the snow and ice and I still sold three homes. People that relocate to our area don’t stop looking because of the weather and luckily I have a lot of listings that these buyers have been looking at online for several weeks prior to their house hunting trip,” Dou said.
Harold Crye, president of Crye-Leike Real Estate, said his firm’s sales in the Northwest Arkansas market totaled $26 million in February, up 12% from a year ago. His agents sold 177 units last month, a 7% increase from the year ago period. He said February business rebounded after a sluggish start in January.
Crye-Leike’s total business sales rose 10% in February to $332 million, despite inclement weather. This is a solid metric for the southeastern region of the U.S. given the firm’s marketshare and reach.
Coldwell Banker, the largest firm in two counties, reports an 8% dip in February sales in the two-county area, after a 15% increase in January.
“Our new written business is moving up nicely year to date, but is still down when compared to 2013. The weather has had a dramatic effect on the business all across the country, and (Northwest) Arkansas is no exception. There seems to be some pent-up demand in the marketplace, as many buyers have put off their home buying search due to weather conditions. I do not believe closed business in March and April of this year will be as good as in 2013, but by mid-summer, I project that we will be caught up to 2013,” said George Faucette, CEO of the local Coldwell Banker franchise.
Jason Smith, a broker with Crye-Leike in Fayetteville, said a flood of activity has hit in the past two weeks as the weather cleared.
“I have picked up five new listings in the past two weeks. I think people stuck at home cleaned up their houses, shopped online and decided it was time to list,” Smith said.
He said an average time on market below 180 days and low inventory levels point to a sellers market.
“The average days on market is 160, and homes in good condition are selling above 96% of asking. Prices are moving up. Good condition homes can be priced 5% higher today and still get ample showings because of the limited inventory,” Smith said.
Dou agreed saying there is less inventory and the list-sell price ratio is much higher than she’s seen in many years which is great for sellers.
“I think 2014 is going to be the best year for sales we have seen in a very long time,” Dou said.
MountData.com reports that of all the 846 homes sold this year, the average time on market — from listing to pending — was 66 days. Paul Bynum, analyst with MountData.com, reports the median sales price across the region rose 2% to $139,000, for an average of $83 per square foot.
HOME SALES DATA
Benton County (January-February)
2014: 545 units, $92.331 million
2013: 489 units, $82.489 million
up 11.5% and 11.9%
Washington County (January-February)
2014: 299 units, $53.527 million
2013: 351 units, $56.156 million
down 14.8% and 4.68%