Fort Smith area home sales down from a year ago, fewer sales with flat volume

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 27 views 

July was a mixed bag for home sales in Sebastian and Crawford counties compared to the same month last year. Together the two counties had 168 homes sold in July with a combined value of $25.694 million, down 11.57% in unit sales and just slightly above the $25.606 million reported last year.

Kevin King, broker with Weichert King, said July is traditionally a better month for home sales of the year while the kids are ending their summer break and parents minds are occupied with wrapping up summer projects and dreaming of the day the kids are back in school. The Fort Smith area home sales data was provided by Weichert Realtor – King Realty Group in Fort Smith.

“July is commonly the third or fourth best month of the year for sales numbers. Interest rates remain low at around 3.5%-4% for a 30 year conventional mortgage. I can still remember my father in the early 1980’s complaining about 18% interest rates and how high the payments were respectively,” King said.

In July, King reports solid numbers, though they are down from a year ago. In Sebastian County there were 112 residential sales last month, down compared to 190 sales in the same month last year. Despite the 16.4% drop in units sales, higher home prices overall kept sales volumes at $18.505 million, which is just 4.65% lower than a year ago.

The cumulative sales have an average price of $165,229 which King said is one of the highest averages seen in some time. The highest sale price in July was $840,000, which likely helped skew the average upward. However, King said the median home price of $137,750 was is the highest so far this year for the county.

Crawford County fared better in July. There were 56 homes sold in last month, the exact same number as a year ago. Those sales totaled $7.189 million, 6.6% higher than the $6.419 million sales volume reported in the year-ago period. King said the the average days on market was 128 and the average sales price grew to $128,388, this compared to $114,900 a year ago. The most expensive home sold in Crawford County in July cost $275,000.

STEADY YEAR, PRICES RISE
While July was a bit slower for unit sales across the region King also reports a steady market year-to-date with unit sales totaling 1,206 across the two-counties. Unit sales are up 2.11% over the 1,181 homes sold in the same seven-month period last year. Ascending home prices have also helped total sales volume to rise 4.65% over the year-ago period. Total sales through the seven months of this year were $168.378 million, compared to $160.881 million last year.

More specifically Sebastian and Crawford counties each show positive growth over the same period last year. There have been 847 homes sold in Sebastian County through July, that is up slightly from the 839 home sales a year ago. Total sales volume rose to $122.819 million, up 1.88% year-over-year. The average home price through July is roughly $145,004, up slightly from the $143,679 reported a year ago.

Crawford County agents sold 359 homes in the first seven months of this year. Unit sales are up 4.9% over the 342 units sold a year ago. Total sales volume rose 12.95% to $45.559 million from a year ago.

A common theme in both counties is that home prices are started to trend higher, which is a positive sign for the overall economy. Median sales prices in Sebastian County are up 1.1% from a year ago. Since 2014 the median home price has risen $5,350 or 4.65%. In Crawford County price appreciation has been a little faster with median prices rising 2.5% to $114,900 this year. Since 2014 median home prices in Crawford County are up $10,900 or 10.48%.

SENTIMENT, OUTLOOK
Looking ahead to the rest of 2016, King expects more of the same, slow and steady growth for the Fort Smith regional market assuming jobs continue their modest growth pattern and interest rates remain low. He said the presidential rate has had little if any noticeable impact on the local housing market other than conversations with clients about being “tired of the coverage and repetitive speeches from both major candidates.

“If I remember correctly from the 2012 presidential race, there seemed to be a lot more hesitation and a pause in buying and selling in anticipation of who was going to win. It seems much less so this time,” King said. “There’s never a perfect time to get married, or have kids or buy a house, but with today’s low interest rates it’s pretty close to perfect.”

While homeownership rates continue to decline in many metros across the nation, the city of Fort Smith has pretty much maintained its home ownership rate of 54.3%, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. That said, outlying areas such as Greenwood have a much higher homeownership rate at 72.4%. Van Buren’s is 64.5% and Alma’s is 61.2%.

FORT SMITH AREA HOME SALES (January through July)
• Sebastian County
Unit Sales
2016: 847
2015: 839
2014: 786
2013: 696

Sales Volume
2016: $122.819 million
2015: $120.547 million
2014: $104.061 million
2013: $96.801 million

Median Price
2016: $120,250
2015: $119,500
2014: $114,900
2013: $115,000

• Crawford County
Unit Sales
2016: 359
2015: 342
2014: 358
2013: 268

Sales Volume
2016: $45.559 million
2015: $40.334 milion
2014: $41.044 million
2013: $28.745 million

Median Sales Price
2016: $114,900
2015: $112,000
2014: $105,000
2013: $104,000

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