The real estate market in Northwest Arkansas is heating up according to industry experts who report new and existing home sales, home prices and buyer demand are each showing signs of strength through the first quarter of 2015 – and that’s compared to healthy 2014 numbers.
Agents across Benton and Washington counties sold 1,596 homes valued at roughly$306 million in the first three months of this year. Unit sales are up 11.2% from the same period last year, while total volume rose 27%.
Paul Bynum, analyst with MountData.com, says it’s “a very hot market” based on his research. Bynum said it’s the best first quarter start for the region post the 2008 recession. He reports Benton County home sales totaling 976 units or $187.985 million in the first quarter. This compared to 903 units valued at $158,118 million in the year-ago period.
The big story in Benton County are rising home prices. The median home price of $160,000 as of April 1, is up 14.3% from a year ago. On a per-square-foot basis the median home price of $87.4 rose 9.25% from a year ago. This compared to $79.20 per square foot in 2013, a gain of 10.3% in the two-year period.
Stephen Brooks, agent with Keller Williams, told The City Wire that rising prices somewhat attributed to fairly tight supplies of new and existing homes which are a good sign for sellers. He said rising home prices and the threat of higher interest rates are enticing more first-time buyers into the market.
“I have one client right now who wasn't planning to buy for another year or two but decided they didn't want to wait and risk getting a higher rate. That and rising home prices are motivating factors,” Brooks said. “I expect this summer to be a very good one for real estate in this region.”
Buyers looking in Washington County are facing the same issues with median prices at $90.6 per square foot or $159,000 as of April 1. Median prices are up 9.15% over the past two years, according to MountData.com.
Agents sold 620 homes in Washington County in the first quarter, up from 532 in the first quarter of 2014. Their value came to $118.262 million, a gain of 24.8% from the same period last year.
MountData reports homeowners with properties priced under $200,000 are in a seller’s market with inventory levels at three to four months. Bynum said homes selling from less than $200,000 this year have ranged from 54 days to 62 days on market.
The new home market shows properties priced under $399,000 to favor the seller as supplies range from two to four months of inventory based on present buyer demand.
MountData.com also reports that of the 1,596 sales so far this year, 276 of them have been new homes. These new homes command a median price of $107 per square foot, which is 27% more expensive than the median price of $84 per square foot in the two-county area.
Bynum also reports there have been two homes selling for more than $1 million so far this year in the two-county area. Neither of these were new homes. The most expensive new home sold this year to date was valued at $705,000.
NWA Home Sales Data (January-March)
2015: $187.995 million
2014: $158.118 million
2013: $159.600 million
2015: $118.262 million
2014: $93.136 million
2013: $89.256 million