January home sales and prices move higher

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 1 views 

Stronger home sales kicked 2013 into action last month as real estate agents in Benton and Washington counties sold 366 homes, the best start in five years, according to MountData.com.

January home sales totaled $61.33 million, up 13.43% from a year ago. Median home prices rose nearly $10,000 from a year ago to $139,950 in January.

The majority of homes sold last month were priced in the $100,000 to $150,000 range, and there is 5-to 6-month supply of homes in this price category.

Vickie Briolat and Jim Long, agents with Crye-Leike Realty in Bentonville, together have 14 homes under contract since Jan. 1.

“We are incredibly busy,” Long said as he was showing a home in Fayetteville on Wednesday (Feb. 13).

The City Wire caught up with Briolat Thursday (Feb. 14) during a home inspection for a deal that is about to close.

“Everyone in our office is running full blast, the phone is ringing, homes are selling and it’s the best start I can remember. We are just surfers riding this wave and we hope the tide stays high,” Briolat said.

Agents say the business is mixed between those selling and moving up as well as those buying investor properties and taking advantage of the low interest rates, which were a 3.46% average in January, according to MountData.

Paul Bynum, statistician with MountData, reports an ending inventory of 3,135 homes listed for sale in January. That included 313 new construction homes and 2,822 existing homes. Inventory is down 57% from the all-time high in August 2007, and 11% lower than a year ago.

“Our January closed business was about 20% higher than January 2012. We are still in the slower winter season (for residential business); but If January is a decent indicator, 2013 will result in a healthy increase in sales,” said George Faucette, CEO and co-owner of the local Coldwell Banker franchise.

Faucette said he is equally convinced that home price increases will moderate as more foreclosures make their way into the listing service.

Bynum reports 548 pending home sales in January, up from 445 in the year-ago period. He said the higher pending number is a leading indicator for future sales. There were also 818 new listings in January, up from 745 new listings a year earlier.

Long said new listings are coming under contract faster and properties priced right and show well are getting full price offers or near full price; as well as multiple bids in some cases.

The average time on market for homes sold in January was 54 days, according to MountData.com.

January Home Sales
Benton County
2013: 217 units, totaling $38.204 million
2012: 201 units, totaling $33.42 million

Washington County
2013: 148 units, totaling $22.857 million
2012: 140 units, totaling $20.646 million

Median Home Prices
Benton County
2013: $140,500
2012: $137,950

Washington County
2013: $137,950
2012: $130,500