Arkansas home sales down in August, numbers up year-to-date

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 100 views 

Year-to-date home sales and sales volume in Arkansas through August remains positive, but August home sales were down more than 5% and sales were down more than 8%.

Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest metro areas during the first eight months of 2014 totaled 14,527, up 3.65% compared to the same period in 2013, according to The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report. The average price per home sold in the four markets was $165,056, down 2.31% compared to the same period in 2013, and the total value of $2.397 billion in the four markets was up 1.25%.

The year-to-date comparisons are up against what was a robust 2013 in terms of Arkansas home sales and sales values. For example, the 2014 year-to-date home sales are up 17.4% over the same period in 2012 and the value of home sales is up 19.04% compared to the same period in 2012.

The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report captures home sales data in the state’s 14 most populated counties within its four largest metro areas — Central Arkansas, the Fort Smith area, Jonesboro/Northeast Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas. The report, which records closed sales, accounts for between 70% and 75% of total Arkansas home sales.

Bob Downum, broker with Weichert Downum Group in Springdale, told The City Wire that the numbers are strong on the surface.

“They’re steady, no big surges up or down and while overall sales are lagging last year, 2014 is a lot better than 2012,” Downum said. “It looks to be a sustainable pace.”

Larry Stanfill, a broker with Chuck Fawcett Realty's Greenwood office near Fort Smith, said the back half of a year is sometimes slower, but he continues to be busy.

"We will probably remain steady, but winter months are typically the slower months. As for me, I'm having the best year I've ever had and I still have quite a bit going on for closings in the next month and I'm hoping it holds,” Stanfill said.

AUGUST NUMBERS
August home sales in the four markets totaled 2,048, down 5.62% compared to August 2013, and up 17.36% compared to August 2012. The average price per home in the four markets during August was $168,896, down 3.03% compared to August 2013, and down 3.06% compared to August 2012. The total value of sales in the four markets during August was $345.899 million, down 8.48% compared to August 2013 and up 13.77% compared to August 2012.

There were 897 homes sold in central Arkansas, down 5.68% compared to August 2013, and up 15% compared to August 2012.

August home sales totaled 742 in Northwest Arkansas, down 9.18% compared to August 2013, and up 16.85% compared to August 2012.

Jonesboro area home sales totaled 223, up 9.31% compared to August 2013 and up 29.65% compared to August 2012.

In the Fort Smith area, home sales totaled 186, down 6.06% compared to August 2013, and up 17.72% compared to August 2012.

The total value of the sales during August were down 8.71% in central Arkansas, down 7.14% in Northwest Arkansas, down 5.45% in the Jonesboro area, and down 17.78% in the Fort Smith region.

THE REGIONAL PICTURE: 2014
Central Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-August 2014: 6,827
Jan.-August 2013: 6,535
Jan.-August 2012: 5,894

Fort Smith area — Home sales
Jan.-August 2014: 1,320
Jan.-August 2013: 1,162
Jan.-August 2012: 1,084

Jonesboro area — Home sales
Jan.-August 2014: 1,513
Jan.-August 2013: 1,297
Jan.-August 2012: 1,188

Northwest Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-August 2014: 4,867
Jan.-August 2013: 5,022
Jan.-August 2012: 4,208

The top five counties in terms of Jan.-August 2014 home sales:
Pulaski — 3,171, up compared to 3,025 in 2013
Benton — 3,087, down compared to 3,146 in 2013
Washington — 1,780, down compared to 1,876 in 2013
Craighead — 1,198, up compared to 1,029 in 2013
Saline — 1,105, up compared to 1,034 in 2013

Link here for a PDF document of the August 2014 data.

STUDENT DEBT IMPACT
A possible minor drag on future home sales could result from student loan debt.

Trulia recently released a report that reveals a trend in which homeownership rates among young adults ages 18-34 has dropped to a new low of 13.2%. Trulia reports that Millennials are struggling with sluggish job markets, student loan debts and tight lending standards.

Conway Bankruptcy Attorney James Wyre said the Trulia research is not a surprise.

 

“I’m consistently seeing people that have decent incomes but don’t make enough to pay their student loans,” he said, adding that tuition costs have risen dramatically in just the past decade.

Wyre said student loan debt, as a rule, cannot be discharged but people are filing bankruptcy and adding them to Chapter 13 plans, anyway. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a consumer will generally pay off debts through a low, monthly payment for about five years. After the five years is up, portions of unpaid, unsecured loans are discharged.

 

Student loans cannot be discharged, but paying on them through a Chapter 13 plan can reduce monthly payments and a consumer can avoid having wages garnished for not paying back those loans under the original terms. Consumers who choose to file for bankruptcy solely to deal with student loan debt hope their income levels will improve enough over the length of the plan to handle student loan payments after the bankruptcy has ended.

Wyre said consumers who file for bankruptcy because of student loans have their money tied up for five years while the Chapter 13 plan is in place, so they will not be in a position to purchase homes. Also, their credit will be hurt because of the bankruptcy and their chances of taking out a mortgage is low.