Local Realtors say high-end neighborhoods are bouncing back from the real estate collapse of 2008.
About two years ago, the lavish Versailles subdivision in Centerton was largely deserted, with just four homes built and 130 lots vacant.
Centerton Municipal Property Owners’ Improvement District No. 3 filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy on the project in October 2011, listing $8.45 million in debts and $2.6 million in assets.
A few months after the filing, Linda Hobkirk, senior vice president at Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney Faucette, and CBHMF executive broker Patrick Quinn were hired on to sell the lots.
Hobkirk said the lots had been priced out of the market. After the prices were lowered and the properties were back on sale in February 2013, the neighborhood became a hotspot. Forty percent of the subdivision — about 50 lots — has been sold. The price was raised March 12 to $68,000-$79,000 per lot.
The properties range from one to four acres, and homes built must be at least 3,500 SF. Hobkirk said Versailles’ lots are large and buyers are attracted to the wooded acreage and the fact that they can choose their own builder.
To Hobkirk, the renewed success of Versailles shows “the demand for higher-end homes is back.”
This fact is reflected on a national level by data from the National Association of Realtors.
A report released in February showed sales at the upper end of the housing market are rising very quickly, contrasted with the previous year’s rate.
Although Northwest Arkansas was fairly insulated from the real estate crash, there’s no doubt the region was affected.
Local agents and builders agree times were tough starting in 2008, and the housing industry started a steady course of improvement around fall 2012.
Another upscale neighborhood that shows improvement in the industry through a major growth spurt is Oak Tree, a gated community in Bentonville.
First developed just before the real estate downturn, the subdivision was nearly empty for several years but is now 60 percent full, with 115 out of 200 lots sold, said Jan Holland, senior vice president and accredited buyer’s representative at CBHMF.
The Oak Tree community features three different neighborhoods with varying-sized lots, with the smaller lots closer to the front and the Estate section, with acre-plus lots, toward the back.
Tall Oaks Construction LLC of Bentonville is one of three builders for the neighborhood.
Dana Lessley, owner of Tall Oaks, said she and husband Bill decided to build in Oak Tree because they were looking for neighborhoods that included bigger lots and more trees, with plenty of variety.
Lessley said one reason for the neighborhood’s popularity with customers is its proximity to the second Bentonville high school, which is set to open in Centerton during the 2016-17 school year.
Although Lessley said her company felt the effects of the real estate downturn, they did not have financial problems.
“We saw it coming and cut back, just built fewer homes,” she said. “We watched the market and when we saw it steadily picking up, we started picking back up.”
A number of real estate agents left the industry as a result of the downtown, said John Mayer, senior vice president at CBHMF. Now, the industry is growing again. New real estate agents are starting every day and real estate schools are filling up.