Fort Smith area posts home sales growth in the first half of 2015

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 41 views 

Real estate agents across Fort Smith and the surrounding area are having one of their best years ever with 18.5% growth in sales volume through the first half of 2015, compared to a year ago.

Homes sales values in Sebastian County totaled $101.27 million in the first six months of 2015, compared to $85.445 million in 2014 and $77.894 million in 2013, according to MountData.com.

There were 705 homes sold in the first half of the year in Sebastian County, 8.46% more than the unit sales in the same period of 2014. The majority of those sales were located in Fort Smith.

Jan Dyer, president of the Fort Smith Board of Realtors, said everyone is happy with the market improvement to date. She ranks the overall health of the Fort Smith metro real estate market a solid “B” which is better than she’s seen in several years. Dyer credits the rise in sales to a healthier overall economy and said there are buyers at both ends of the price spectrums which is another sign of steady demand.

One program Dyer cited that is helping local first-time buyers is a neighborhood revitalization program funded by Regions Bank. She said buyers in certain transitional Fort Smith neighborhoods can get 100% financing with this program and some assistance with closing costs.

“This is quite helpful for young couples looking to purchase the first home. Some of the homes need a little work, but they are prices to sell and make great starter homes or fixer-uppers for buyers who don’t have the 3.5% down payment requirements with other financing,” she added.

One caveat with the 100% financing is that the property must a permanent residence and cannot be used as investment rental property.

She said more higher-end homes have also sold in this year including the two million dollar homes reported in April which has also helped to push the total sales volume above the $101 million mark through June. Dyer said the average list price to sales price for the first half of the year is 96.8%, which is up from 96% a year ago. 

“That means that sellers are getting 96.8% of their asking price. That’s a good indication  of the market’s improving health. The average days on market in the first half the year was 157 down from 193 days a year ago,” Dyer told The City Wire.

She said the average home sale price this year in the Fort Smith area was $125,011, a gain of 9.58% from the $114,078 average sale price a year ago. MountData reports that the median sales price for the Sebastian County area at $117,650 through June, up 2.3% from a year ago. 

In June, home agents sold 148 homes in the Sebastian County, valued at $23.127 million. This compared to 128 sales worth $19.219 million ago, rising 15.6% and 20.3%, respectively.

Dyer said demand for rental properties in the Fort Smith area remains strong and she sees no reason for it to weaken, especially with a new medical school to likely furnish a steady supply of temporary residents to Fort Smith.

“Others local residents are becoming real estate investors as well because they see that building wealth in rental income is attainable in this 0% interest environment,” she said.

Looking to the back half of 2015, Dyer expects a steady pace will continue, noting that the first half of the year is typically a little stronger than the second half. That said, Dyer expects the local market will increase 3% overall in 2015, which she said is “excellent” and sustainable growth.

CRAWFORD COUNTY
In neighboring Crawford County agents sold 286 homes so far this year. These sales totaled $33.914 million, down from 304 sales worth $34.491 million a year ago.

Part of the decline stems from a weaker June as agents sold 52 homes with a cumulative value of $6.783 million. This was down from 69 homes worth $9.088 million a year ago, according to MountData.com.

The median sales price in Crawford County through June was $110,000 or $70.2 per square foot. This is up compared to $104,000 of $66.6 per square foot a year ago.

Home Sales (January through June)
Crawford County
Sales Volume
2015: $33.914 million
2014: $34.491 million
2013: $23.244 million

Unit Sales
2015: 286
2014: 304
2013: 220

Median Sales Price
2015: $110,000
2014: $104,000
2013: $105,000

Sebastian County
Sales Volume
2015: $101.270 million
2014: $115.000 million
2013: $115.000 million

Unit Sales
2015: 705
2014: 650
2013: 570

Median Sales Price
2015: $117,750
2014: $115,000
2013: $115,000

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