Arkansas job growth pushes home sales up more than 8% for the year

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 56 views 

Double-digit home sales growth in Northwest Arkansas helped drive an almost 9% home sales gain during July in the state’s four largest metro markets. For the first seven months of 2015, home sales in the four markets are up 8.63%, with the total sales ticket for those homes up more than 14%.

The average price for home is also on an upward trend, reaching $172,835 for the first seven months of 2015. That number is up 5.14% compared to the same period in 2014, according to The City Wire’s Arkansas Home Sales Report.

The Arkansas Home Sales Report captures home sales data in the state’s 14 most populated counties within its four largest metro areas — Central Arkansas, the Fort Smith area, Jonesboro/Northeast Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas. The report, which records closed sales, accounts for between 70% and 75% of total Arkansas home sales.

Dr. Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster for the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the July housing market report is another sign the economy continues to improve.

“It looks like another strong month. … Another strong report,” he said.

Pakko said the stronger housing markets in Arkansas over the past 1.5 years is related to more consistent job growth during that time. Homes sales, naturally, are heavily impacted by the jobs market – when people aren’t working or don’t feel secure in their jobs, they probably don’t buy homes.

More than 43,000 were employed in Arkansas in July compared to July 2014, and the July jobless rate fell to 5.6% from 5.7% in June. The July 2014 jobless rate was 6%. The state’s jobless rate has been at or below 6% for 13 consecutive months.

He said the strongest growth in the housing market is found in areas with the strongest jobs growth. Northwest Arkansas, for example, has outperformed the rest of the areas surveyed it terms of home sales but that makes sense because job growth has been the strongest there.

YEAR-TO-DATE NUMBERS
The number of homes sold in the four markets in the January-July period totaled 13,657, up 8.63% from 12,572 in the same period of 2014, and up 14.51% compared to the same period in 2013. In the January-July period, home sales were up 6.5% in central Arkansas, up 3.23% in the Fort Smith metro, up 4.64% in the Jonesboro metro and up 14.42% in Northwest Arkansas.

The total value of January-July home sales in the four markets was $2.36 billion, up 14.22% compared to the same period in 2014 and up 17.69% compared to the 2013 period.

For the year-to-date period, the average sales price in the four large markets ranged from a high of $202,304 in Benton County to a low of $97,719 in Jefferson County.

The average days on market during the January-July period was 89.58, down slightly from the 93.77 in the same period of 2014, and down from 90.41 in the same period of 2013.

TWO OF FOUR MARKETS UP IN JULY
July home sales in the four markets totaled 2,377, up 8.89% compared to July 2014, and up 14.44% compared to July 2013. The average price per home in the four markets during July was $181,754, up 4.01% compared to July 2014, and up 4.08% compared to July 2013. The total value of sales in the four markets during July was $432.028 million, up 13.25% compared to July 2014 and up 19.11% compared to July 2013.

There were 1,114 homes sold in central Arkansas, up 6.81% compared to July 2014, and up 14.73% compared to July 2013. The value of home sales was $176.742 million, up 21.51% compared to July 2014.

July home sales totaled 858 in Northwest Arkansas, up 16.89% compared to July 2014, and up 18.02% compared to July 2013. The value of home sales was $199.738 million, up 10.78% compared to July 2014.

Jonesboro area home sales totaled 215, down 0.46% compared to July 2014 and up 4.88% compared to July 2013. The value of home sales was $29.85 million, down 2.27% compared to July 2014.

In the Fort Smith area, home sales totaled 190, the same as  July 2014, and up 9.2% compared to July 2013. The value of home sales was $25.697 million, up 2.1% compared to July 2014.

THE REGIONAL PICTURE: January-July 2015
Central Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-July 2015: 6,370
Jan.-July 2014: 5,981
Jan.-July 2013: 5,656

Fort Smith area — Home sales
Jan.-July 2015: 1,181
Jan.-July 2014: 1,144
Jan.-July 2013: 964

Jonesboro area — Home sales
Jan.-July 2015: 1,354
Jan.-July 2014: 1,294
Jan.-July 2013: 1,099

Northwest Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-July 2015: 4,752
Jan.-July 2014: 4,153
Jan.-July 2013: 4,207

The top five counties in terms of January-July 2015 home sales:
Benton — 2,989, up compared to 2,625 in January-July 2014
Pulaski — 2,912, up compared to 2,773 in January-July 2014 
Washington — 1,763, up compared to 1,528 in January-July 2014
Craighead — 1,113, up compared to 1,030 in January-July 2014
Saline — 1,072, up compared to 968 in January-July 2014

Link here for a PDF document of the July 2015 data.

THE 2014 PICTURE
There were 21,447 homes sold in Arkansas’ four largest markets in 2014, up 3.8% over 2013 and up 17.33% over 2012. The total value of homes sold in the four markets during 2014 was $3.554 billion, up 3.24% over 2013 and up 18.97% compared to 2012.
Gains in the number of homes sold in 2014 certainly varied by market.

Sales totaled 9,904 in central Arkansas, up 2.32%. In the Fort Smith region, which has an economy not yet on stable footing, home sales were up a surprising 14.33% for the year.

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