Fort Smith metro home sales show steady pace through August

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 34 views 

Agents in the Fort Smith metro area sold 182 homes in August valued at more than $24.772 million. Unit sales in Sebastian and Crawford counties fell slightly from 189 sold a year ago, but sales volume rose 4.56% from $23.69 million reported a year-over-year, according to MountData.com.

In Fort Smith alone, there were 87 sales compared to 92 in August 2014, but area agents are pleased with the sales volume growth they are seeing this year. Higher sales volume is related to a couple of metrics at play, according to Kevin King, CEO of Weichert King Realty in Fort Smith. King said median and average sales prices have risen over last year and there are also more higher-valued homes selling (those in the above $250,000).

The median sales price this year for homes selling in Sebastian County was $119,000, up 4.3% year-over-year. In Fort Smith’s city limit the median home price is $122,750, according to King. The average sales price for Sebastian County is $142,484 compared to $131,454 a year ago. King said in Fort Smith, the average price has risen to $151,418 as of August.

He said there is still investor activity in the Fort Smith market which is driving sales in the $75,000 to $125,000 range. Through August King said agents sold 163 homes in this price range. He said first time buyers are also shopping in this price range and they comprise about one-third of the market.

However, there also is active with buyers at the higher end in Fort Smith. King said roughly 10% of the homes that sold this year were priced between $250,000 and $300,000. 

King said his firm got received two contracts this past week for new construction homes in the Park Meadow subdivision on U.S. 71. Those homes are priced at $225,000 and $250,000. He also just listed two homes at $550,000, and both have had active showings but no contract offers.

Year-to-date through August the two-county area has sold 1,362 homes valued in excess of $185.528 million, up 2.17% and 9.91%, respectively over the same period in 2014. King said his firm’s sales through August are 30% ahead of last year. He said the company has added five additional full-time agents in recent months.

“Rates have stayed low and the Fort Smith economy and national economy continues to  improve. Consumer confidence is high right now and that is good for the housing market. I expect the Fort Smith area market to be up moderately this year. However; our firm’s growth is a more aggressive than the overall market at least through August,” King said.

CRAWFORD COUNTY
In neighboring Crawford County, agents sold 58 homes in August, for a cumulative volume of $8.124 million. This compared to 54 houses valued at $6.682 million, in the year-ago period.

The story here again is rising prices in August which pushed volume growth ahead of unit sales. There were more higher priced home sales completed in August with the median price rising to $130,000, which was more than $14,000 more than reported in Sebastian County. Agents relate this to more new home sales in Van Buren which are helping to push median prices upward.

Through August agents have sold 400 homes in Crawford County with a value of $48.459 million. Unit sales are down slightly from the 412 reported a year ago, but sales volume is up from the $47.727 million a year ago.

U.S. ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market began the second half of 2015 on a positive note, with pending sales slightly rising in July. He said household wealth across the country has increased by $5 trillion dollars over the past four years, led in part by rising home prices.

"While demand and sales continue to be stronger than earlier this year, Realtors® across the country have reported since the spring that available listings in affordable price ranges remain elusive for some buyers trying to reach the market and are likely holding back sales from being more robust."

Looking ahead, with inventory shortages likely to persist into the fall, Yun expects the national median existing-home price to increase 6.3% n 2015 to $221,400. Yun forecasts total existing-home sales this year to increase 7.1% to around $5.29 million, about 25% below the prior peak set in 2005 ($7.08 million).

THE NUMBERS
Home Sales
(January through August)
Crawford County
Sales Volume
2015: $48.549 million
2014: $47.727 million

Unit Sales
2015: 400
2014: 412

Median Sales Price
2015: $114,500
2014: $107,000

Sebastian County
Sales Volume
2015: $137.069 million
2014: $121.069 million

Unit Sales
2015: 962
2014: 921

Median Sales Price
2015: $119,000
2014: $114,000

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