Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets are up more than 9% during the first nine months of the year, with a September home sales boost of more than 10% continuing a a healthy trend into the final quarter of the year.
The year-to-date pace in Arkansas is driven by an almost 15% gain in Northwest Arkansas home sales and a more than 7% gain in central Arkansas and the Fort Smith metro.
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. The report is produced by Talk Business & Politics.
In the January-September period, home sales were up 7.31% in central Arkansas, up 7.45% in the Fort Smith metro, up 3.4% in the Jonesboro metro and up 14.78% in Northwest Arkansas.
Not only are sales strong, but the average sales price of homes in the four markets has held. In the January-September period, the average sales price in the four markets was $173,468, up 4.88% compared to the same period in 2014 and up 3.02% compared to the same period in 2013.
The overall value of homes sold in the four markets during the first nine months of the year totaled $3.139 billion, up 14.78% compared to the same period in 2014.
And homes, on average, are selling faster. The average days on market during the January-September period was 87.26, down from the 91.08 in the same period of 2014, and down from 88.11 days in the same period of 2013.
MOVEMENT AHEAD OF INTEREST RATE UNCERTAINTY
Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said having nine months of data in the current housing market report points to something he predicted last October — the statewide housing market would grow as much as 10% in 2015.
“That sounded optimistic at the time,” he said, adding that the year-to-date numbers are in line with what he predicted.
Pakko said he expects to see another strong year in 2016, but says an expected interest rate increase could slow the market. However, Pakko said what will probably happen first is that a number of people who watch interest rates will decide to buy a home before mortgage costs do rise.
Regardless, Pakko said improving housing markets have been a source of good economic news all year long.
“We’re finally on track to getting back to what I would would consider to be a normal, healthy market,” he said.
Economists and other housing market watchers also say the improved Arkansas jobs market has helped boost real estate sales. Labor force data, produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and released Nov. 20, shows that Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point, from 5.2% in September to 5.1% in October.
“October marks the fifth consecutive month that Arkansas’ unemployment rate has declined and the twenty-third straight month that employment has increased,” noted Arkansas’ BLS Program Operations Manager Susan Price. “The number of employed in Arkansas is up 37,600 compared to October 2014.”
SEPTEMBER MARKET ACTIVITY
September home sales in the four markets totaled 2,117, up 10.09% compared to September 2014, and up 16.19% compared to September 2013. January was the only month with a decline (down 2.55%) in 2015.
The average price per home in the four markets during September was $172,946, up 4.88% compared to September 2014, and up 4.89% compared to September 2013. The total value of sales in the four markets during September was $366.127 million, up 15.46% compared to September 2014 and up 21.88% compared to September 2013.
There were 990 homes sold in central Arkansas, up 5.26% compared to September 2014, and down 3.23% compared to September 2013. The value of home sales was $168.668 million, up 14.24% compared to September 2014.
September home sales totaled 741 in Northwest Arkansas, up 17.06% compared to September 2014, and up 18.56% compared to September 2013. The value of home sales was $149.914 million, up 22.67% compared to September 2014.
Jonesboro area home sales totaled 208, down 4.52% compared to September 2014 and up 32.48% compared to September 2013. The value of home sales was $27.347 million, up 7.3% compared to September 2014.
In the Fort Smith area, home sales totaled 178, down 2.73% compared to September 2014, and up 9.2% compared to September 2013. The value of home sales was $23.196 million, down 4.16% compared to September 2014.
THE REGIONAL PICTURE: January-September 2015
Central Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-September 2015: 8,371
Jan.-September 2014: 7,801
Jan.-September 2013: 7,525
Fort Smith area — Home sales
Jan.-September 2015: 1,616
Jan.-September 2014: 1,504
Jan.-September 2013: 1,325
Jonesboro area — Home sales
Jan.-September 2015: 1,732
Jan.-September 2014: 1,675
Jan.-September 2013: 1,423
Northwest Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-September 2015: 6,382
Jan.-September 2014: 5,560
Jan.-September 2013: 5,635
The top five counties in terms of January-September 2015 home sales:
Benton — 4,044, up compared to 3,558 in January-September 2014
Pulaski — 3,850, up compared to 3,607 in January-September 2014
Washington — 2,338, up compared to 2.002 in January-September 2014
Craighead — 1,450, up compared to 1,356 in January-September 2014
Saline — 1,421, up compared to 1,275 in January-September 2014
Link here for a PDF document of the September 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.