Fort Smith metro homes sales rally in 2015, best in seven years

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 41 views 

Fort Smith area Realtors had plenty to smile about in 2015 as Sebastian and Crawford counties each posted their best year for home sales since 2008 and 2009, respectively.

The two counties combined for homes sales volume of $312.8 million last year, rising 8.62% year-over-year, according to data provided by Kevin King, owner of the Weichert King Real Estate firm in Fort Smith.

Sebastian County sales grew by more than $24.3 million during 2015 when compared to the prior year. Total sales volume for the 12-month period was $229.677 million, rallying 11.87% from 2014’s volume level. The sales gain was driven by a 9.5% increase in units sold. Agents closed deals on 1,717 homes in Sebastian County in 2015 marking the third consecutive annual increase. While agents were pleased with the activity they saw last year, the sales pace remains 260 annual unit sales off the market peak in 2006.

Jan Dyer, president of the Fort Smith Realtors Association, recently told Talk Business & Politics that the sales pace the region enjoyed in 2015 was a more sustainable level long-term given the region’s shrinking workforce over the past decade.

King also said the 2015 sales pace was steady and sustainable. He said with 149 more transactions in 2015 and about a $100 higher median sales price over the 2014 price it’s easy to see why the Sebastian County sales volume posted year-over-year double-digit gains. He said Fort Smith also boasted a $3,500 increase in average sold price to $137,614 in 2015, an indication that prices are rising again. The average home prices in Sebastian County are up 3% from the market peak in 2006.

The median home price in Sebastian County was $110,000 last year, up less than 1% year-over-year. Median prices refer to the middle price with half the homes selling for more and half selling for less. The median sales price in Sebastian County has risen $8,000 since 2006. Just like with the average price record, median sales prices also reached the highest level ever in 2015.

Crawford County agents saw split results with 742 unit sales last year, down five units from the prior year. But a higher median sales price help to make up the deficit pushing total sales to $83.124 million, marking the best year since 2009. Agents tallied up an additional $475,000 in sales last year, over 2014.

King said the the median sales price in Crawford County crept up by $500 over last year to $99,900. The median sales price has risen more than $9,000 since 2006. That said, Crawford County’s median home prices still remain below the price peak of $105,000  reached in 2009.

The average price per home increased to $112,330 in 2015, up $762 from the previous year. The average home price set in 2015 was the third highest on record behind $119,504 in 2008 and $113,052 in 2007, according to the data.

King said the 2015 numbers for the most part are in line with 2007 and 2008 units sold and sales volume.

“The only concerns with keeping this pace may include continuing increases in interest rates which traditionally cause short term buyers to get off the fence and get their rate locked in,” King said. “In the longer run higher interest rates could stiffen sales a bit with consumers always waiting for a drop in rates.”

King said based on several resources including the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this isn’t likely to happen in the near future and rates are likely to see a gradual increase. To put things in perspective, he said “rates in 2007 were hovering around 6.5% and in the early 1980’s rates hit near 20% levels. Rates today on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are still around the 4% mark which is a great reminder that it’s still a great time to invest in real estate.”

BY THE NUMBERS
Crawford County
Unit Sales
2015: 742
2014: 747
2013: 615

Sales Volume
2015: $83.124 million
2014: $82,649 million
2013: $67.849 million

Median Sales Price
2015: $99,900
2014: $99,400
2013: $99.382

Sebastian County
Unit Sales
2015: 1,717
2014: 1,568
2013: 1,429

Sales Volume
2015: $229.677 million
2014: $205.299 million
2013: $186.523 million

Median Sales Price
2015: $110,000
2014: $109,900
2013: $109,950

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