Home sales up 4.6% through June in Fort Smith area

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 9 views 

There were 1,037 homes sold in Sebastian and Crawford counties during the first six months of 2016, up 4.6% over the 991 sales in the same period of 2015, according to Kevin King, owner of Weichert King Real Estate of Fort Smith.

Sales volume rose 5.37% through June to $142.456 million. A year ago combined sales volume was $135.184 million. That $7.272 million gain equates to more commission paid to agents and adds about $500,000 to potential spending in the region.

Sebastian County posted increases in total volume about 3% compared to last year’s period with 26 additional units sold for a 3.7% increase in units year to date, said King.

The total sales volume for Sebastian County through the first six months of 2016 was $104.313 million, and unit sales totaled 735 in the same six month period. Sales volume rose 3% from a year ago and units sales are up 4.25%.

In Sebastian County the average home price through June was $141,923, slightly lower than the $143,646 reported a year ago. Median prices are also slightly lower year-over-year at $114,900, or $69.93 per square foot. This compares to $117,750 a year ago, which was $69.70 per square foot.

King said homes are selling little faster at 137 days on market through the first six months of this year.

“Sebastian County currently shows 796 residential properties available on the market with nearly that many, 735, selling in the last 6 months,” King said.

He reports that many of the homes selling this year are lower priced, in that the average price per square foot among those properties sold was $67. Most of the inventory still listed for sale in Sebastian County has an average square foot price of $83.72.

Median home prices in Sebastian County over the past five years are up more than $10,900. In 2011 the median home price was a low $104,000, dinged from foreclosures and other economic woes in the region. In 2016 the median home price was $114.900, a gain of 10.4%. That said median prices are still slightly below the $115,000 set in 2010 and well below the $117,750 reported a year ago.

In Crawford County, the numbers are a bit stronger. Agents sold 302 homes in the first six months of 2016, up 5.6% from the same period last year. Sales volume rose 12.46% to $38.143 million through June as home prices in Crawford County continue to escalate. Average sales price through June were $125,681 compared to $118,853, a year ago.

King said the Crawford County market is showing signs of steady improvement with average sales prices continuing to increase and the average home selling in 142 days.

Median home prices in Crawford County climbed to a six year high in 2016. At $114,350, the median home price has been up and down over the past six years. Home prices in Crawford County are up 8.9% since the low price of $105,000 was set in 2011.

MIXED JUNE
King said June 2016 proved to be the strongest month on record as it relates to the total volume and total units sold in the previous two years. The two-county region sold 211 homes in June valued at $30.283 million, down compared to 200 homes sold in the same month of 2015, and valued at $29.91 million.

Sebastian County agents were busy selling 164 homes, above the 148 a year ago, a gain of 10.8% from last year. The total sales in June were valued at $24.411 million, up 5.55% over the $23.127 million report a year ago. While the number of sales were up, average home prices of $148,852, went down from $156,265 reported in the same month of 2015. Median home prices ticked upward however to $124.950, or $72.27 per square foot. That compared to $120,000 or $72 per square foot a year ago.

There were also 188 homes sales pending in Sebastian County as of July 12. Pending sales are a leading indicator for next month’s’ sales. A year ago Sebastian County reported 134 homes sales for July and the pending sales at mid-month indicate July results should be better than last year.

King said homes also sold faster in June spending just 95 average days on market, compared to 108 a year ago.

Crawford County posted the lowest June in three years in terms of sales volume. There were 47 homes sold, cumulatively worth $5.872 million. This is less than 56 homes sold a year ago, worth $6.419 million.

While overall sales were down in June, home prices moved higher in Crawford County. The median home price rose to $124,900, or $76,21 per square foot. This compared to $120,000 or $73 a square foot a year ago. Average prices in Crawford County were $124,952, down from $130,459 a year ago.

BACK HALF FORECAST
Agents polled by Talk Business & Politics said the Fort Smith area real estate market should see modest growth of 3% in 2016. That would mean sales taper some in the back half of the year, given the market is up more than 5% through the first half of 2016.

One of the issues Realtors thought might weigh on demand in the coming months was rising interest rates, but the Brexit vote and other global issues have pushed rates lower. The British exit from the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit, prompted the rate of a 30-year fixed mortgage to drop to an average of 3.41% compared to where it stood a year ago at 4.08%. According to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Freddie Mac, it’s the lowest such rate since May 2013.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage recently dropped to 2.74%, compared to 3.2% last year.

“Mortgage rates were already low for potential homebuyers and this drop creates an even better opportunity for them to save money and secure an even lower rate when purchasing or refinancing a home,” said Steven Plaisance, president and CEO for Arvest Bank Mortgage Division.

Arvest is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the region. Plaisance said the lender is seeing lots of activity for new purchases and refinances, which is some cases is saving customers $200 per month. The Mortgage Bankers Association also reports a 14.2% increase in mortgage applications following the drop in interest rates that was triggered by the Brexit vote.

This renewed activity in the U.S. housing market comes at a time when the industry has seen low inventory and higher home prices. Industry leaders are hopeful the recently adjusted rates will continue to spark more activity, as homeowners decide to act quickly.

“There is no way to predict how long these rates will remain, or in which direction they will go next,” Plaisance said.

HOME SALES (January through June)
Crawford County
Unit Sales
2016: 302
2015: 285
2014: 304
2013: 220
2012: 270
2011: 268
2010: 279

Sales Volume
2016: $38.143 million
2015: $33.914 million
2014: $34.391 million
2013: $23.244 million
2012: $31.538 million
2011: $29.738 million
2010: $33.551 million

Median Sales Price
2016: $114,350
2015: $110,000
2014: $113,460
2013: $105,656
2012: $110,000
2011: $105,000
2010: $113,750

Sebastian County
Unit Sales
2016: 735
2015: 705
2014: 650
2013: 570
2012: 530
2011: 568
2010: 678

Sales Volume
2016: $104.313 million
2015: $101.270 million
2014: $85,455 million
2013: $77.894 million
2012: $71.243 million
2011: $70.206 million
2010: $88.254 million

Median Home Price
2016: $114,900
2015: $117,750
2014: $115,000
2013: $115,000
2012: $113,000
2011: $104,000
2010: $115,000

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