Home sales numbers still rising in Crawford, Sebastian counties

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 33 views 

Home sales across Fort Smith continued to rally through November with another double-digit growth rate marking the third consecutive month of solid gains.

Agents and brokers have sold 1,251 homes in the Fort Smith metro area through the first 11 months of this year. The value of those sales totaled more than $171.247 million, a gain of roughly 10% from a year ago, according to MountData.com.

In November alone there were 86 transactions valued at $12.341 million. Unit sales rose 9.5% from 77 recorded a year ago, with volume gains of 21% over the $10.215 million last year.

Clif Warnock, broker with Warnock Real Estate in Fort Smith, said the local market rally is partly due to an uptick in higher priced home sales over the past three months.

“Over the past several years we might have an average of 2 to 3 properties sell at prices between $800,000 and $1 million. We recently closed four of those transactions and six have been sold this year. This surge of high-end sales has pushed up overall sales volume numbers,” Warnock said.

Warnock the local buyer pool has seen several higher income families moving in and out of the region related to management changes at some of the region’s largest employers. He said overall sales have been steady the entire year leading up to the past three months and Warnock expects the momentum to carry into 2015.

In Crawford County, Warnock said the market still provides a 15% percent value in prices over neighboring Fort Smith, which keeps activity steady there as well.

Through November MountData reports 575 home sales in Crawford County which are worth more than $68.316 million, a gain of 22% in units sold and 30% higher overall volume than a year ago.

Last month agents sold 49 homes in Crawford County, down slightly from 51 a year ago. Sales volume rose to $5.838 million last month, up from $5.748 million in the same period last year.

“One big advantage for buyers in Crawford County is that they can still get the Rural Development loans which provide 100% financing. When that is added to the 15% pricing values and the low interest rates it’s easy to see why first time buyers and other moving to Fort Smith would consider the Van Buren market,” Warnock said.

He said prices have been fairly steady in the Fort Smith market for several years. MountData reports median prices of $115,250 through November of this year. This is flat against 2013 and down slightly from the $118,000 recorded in 2012. 

The one area Warnock said Fort Smith is lacking is in new home construction. He said there is some activity near Chaffee Crossing, but it comes after several years of very little building. He said the resale market is strong but the new home market demand has been somewhat tepid because prices in competing homes built a few years ago are very good.

Moving into 2015, Warnock said interest rates may go up, but he’s hopeful not too much, because the lower interest rates have been partially responsible for more buyers being able to get into the market. He said buyers who purchased homes four or five years ago, have already been able to move up in some cases because of lower interest rates and most home appreciation.

That said, buyers who purchased at the market peak some 10 years ago likely still find themselves unable to sale and repurchase, Warnock added.

On the national scene Wells Fargo reports home builder sentiment is steady moving into 2015. But they predict buyer traffic will be flat against 2014 numbers.

Home Sales Data (January – November)
Crawford County
Unit Sales
2014: 575
2013: 473

Total Sales Volume
2014: $68.316 million
2013: $52.818 million

Median Sales Price
2014: $109,700
2013: $106,250

Sebastian County
Unit Sales
2014: 1,251
2013: 1,132

Total Sales Volume
2014: $171.247 million
2013: $155.730 million

Median Sales Price
2014: $115,250
2013: $115,000