The local real estate market in Benton and Washington counties is sizzling hot. In the first half of 2015, agents sold 3,887 homes in the two counties, up almost 14% compared to the same period in 2014.
According to Paul Bynum, analyst with MountData.com, the value of the sales during the first half of the year is $766.16 million, up an impressive 21% compared to $632.769 million in the January-June 2014 period.
“We are in the hottest market in my recorded history. Look for inventory to shrink and new construction to boom. The median sales price will continue to climb because of demand and the higher price of new construction homes,” Bynum told The City Wire.
Bynum also reports that agents sold 619 new homes in the first half of the 2015 with the median sales price of $235,070. New construction homes accounted for about 16% of the total homes sold through June.
Benton County’s growth continues to outpace its neighboring county — Washington —which is also sustaining steady gains. Benton County sales comprised 63% of the total homes sold in the first six months of the year. In fact, Benton County continues to move closer toward the $1 billion annual sales threshold which would be a first for the county. It may not happen this year, but local experts predicted that Benton County sales could cross the $1 billion mark by 2016 if the regional growth continues.
Through June, agents sold 2,457 homes in Benton County for a total value of $491.36 million. Sales rose 12.8% and 20.2%, respectively from a year ago. The median sales price rose 4.6% to $157,000. On a square-foot basis the median price was $86.20, up 4.35% from a year ago.
Income growth that outpaces the national average, population increases at 2.5 times the national average and the lowest jobless rate in the state are all key factors in the hot home market.
Washington County agents sold 1,430 homes valued at $274.799 million in the first half of this year. That compared to 1,241 homes worth $224.082 million a year ago. This was a gain of 15.1% in units sold while total volume rose 22.6% in the year-over-year period, according to MountData.com.
Bynum also reports there were 2,950 listings at the end of June, which included new construction and existing homes. Inventory is down from 3,737 a year ago.
Real estate veteran George Faucette, CEO of the local Coldwell Banker franchise, said the Northwest Arkansas market is healthy.
“The market is showing signs of a bit of a supply problem in many price ranges, but it is not critical. Business has trended upward nicely since the first of the year. (For his own firm) every month has shown an increase in business, and every month, except January has out-paced 2014. Our total business is up 10% year over year for the first six months of the year, and I have no doubt that trend will continue,” Faucette told The City Wire.
Looking ahead Faucette sees no hurdles through the end of this year that should keep his firm from reaching its 10%-12% sales goals over 2014.
Smaller supply relative to demand and higher new home prices are helping push the median sales price higher across the region. Washington County commands the highest average median price per square foot at $93.50, compared to $89 reported in Benton County. This relates to a higher percentage of new homes sales to existing home sales in Washington County than in Benton County.
In Benton County the median home price of $167,000 is up 11.3% through the first six months of this year. Washington County’s median price of $162,000 is up 6.57% from the same period last year. Bynum reports the median home price across the region for new construction is $235,070 or $91 per square foot. This compares to $152,950 or $87 per square foot for existing homes in both markets.
June was a rainy month but agents across Northwest Arkansas still managed to sell 527 homes in Benton County and 286 homes in Washington County. Unit sales rose 19.5% and dipped 2%, respectively from a year ago.
Sales volume in June totaled $111.105 million in Benton County, a gain of 24.7% from the same month in 2014. In Washington County, sales totaled $61.743 million in June, up 11% from a year ago.
The June sales included a $1 million dollar home and four other sales in excess of $700,000, according to Bynum’s report. Those sales helped drive up the median and average sales prices. Bynum said four homes for more than $1 million have sold this year in the two-county area.
Vicki Briolat, agent with Crye-Leike Real Estate in Bentonville, said June and July have been wet, but lucrative months.
“I have showed plenty of properties in the rain lately and tried really hard not to track in mud, but buyers are eager to close deals and I help anyway that I can, rain or shine,” Briolat said.
One thing she’s noticed in the recent market is how balanced her business is between buyers and sellers.
“In June I closed four deals with two families who bought and each resold their former homes after moving into larger houses. I also have someone who is buying the condo she has rented for six years and there are always those folks relocating in and out of the region,” she said.
Briolat said the one area she’s had the most trouble is finding new construction homes in the $175,000 to $250,000 range. There are buyers in that range but little if any product from them to chose from, she said.
“I finally found some new construction out in Centerton near the new high school, but it is selling as fast at the slabs are poured,” Briolat added. “Any resaler who wants to move up or down, the market is screaming for properties in good condition. Prices are going up and this is a great window of opportunity for resalers to list their homes and make a move.”
Home Sales (January through June)
2015: $491.360 million
2014: $498.680 million
2013: $402.024 million
Median Sales Price
2015: $274.799 million
2014: $224.082 million
2013: $224.201 million
Median Sales Price