Fort Smith area reports stronger home sales, better sales volume

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 40 views 

Real estate agents in the Fort Smith metro area like what they are seeing from the local market to start 2015. 

The number of homes sold in the first quarter of this year rose 17% from the same period last year. Total sales volume for Sebastian County equaled $41.281 million in the first three months of 2015, up 18.4% from the $34.851 million reported a year ago, according to MountData.com.

March delivered a strong showing on the heels of solid results reported in the preceding two months. Agents sold 131 homes in Sebastian County in March worth an estimated $19.987 million. This compared to 104 home sales valued at $15.117 million in the same month of 2014. 

“I attribute the strong results to improving consumer confidence readings that are back to higher levels on par with 1990s. It’s been years since that was the case,” said Kevin King, broker and owner of Weichert King Realty in Fort Smith.

King said he continues to see positive vibes from buyers and investors on the residential and commercial side of the business.

“Rental demand is very strong in Fort Smith and there are nearly always investors in the buying market. We are seeing buyers coming in from out of town. The new medical school (Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine) is drawing more interest out to the Fort Chaffee area. That and ArcBest are expected to double the traffic count at Massard Road and Zero giving that entire area a shot in the arm,” King said.

MODEST PRICE GAINS
MountData shows home prices have increased modestly in Sebastian County year-over-year. The average home price for the first quarter of 2015 is $136,241 with a median square foot price of $69. This compared to $134,563 a year ago, while median square foot prices are up 3.75% year-over-year, according to MountData.com.

King said inventory levels across the Fort Smith market are mixed. He said there are more higher-dollar homes listed than buyers at this time. The lower priced homes, particular those in good shape, are moving quickly either by investors or first-time buyers looking to lock into a home before interest rates move higher later this year.

He said an active new home market is also hindering some prices of older homes in certain price bands and that is expected to continue.

Interest rates are projected to move toward the mid-5% range before the end of 2015. That’s nearly a full percentage point from where they are now and King said that can make a significant difference in payments.

MountData.com also reports the number of days on market from list to contract was 125 in the Fort Smith metro area, up from 119 a year ago. King said anything under 150 days is pretty good for the Fort Smith area, and under 100 days is really good. 

While the Fort Smith metro is off to a strong start in 2015, King expects to see the market activity to taper as the year progresses.

“I think this will be a good year overall. My predictions are modest gains of between 3% and 6% over last year,” King said. 

Cliff Warnock, broker with Warnock Real Estate, also told The City Wire he expects 2015 will be a good year.

“Many of the right variables are lining up: the threat of higher interest rates, rising rental costs, improving job market, competitive prices and slightly looser qualifying requirements,” he said.

CRAWFORD COUNTY
Mount Data reports agents sold 120 homes in Crawford County during the first three months of this year, down from 133 sales in the year-ago period. Total sales volume for the quarter equaled $13.554 million, down 6.6% from a year ago.

The smaller Crawford County does offer between 15% and 20% price value over neighboring Sebastian County. The average home price of those sold in Crawford County this year was $112,950, some 17% cheaper than the $136,241 average sales price record in Sebastian County.

One other interesting factor in Crawford County was the 85 median days on market reported in the quarter. That was down from 114 days reported a year ago.

For March, MountData.com reported there were 41 home sales in Crawford County valued at $4.798 million. Market activity is down from 59 homes valued at $15.117 million in the same month last year.

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