Fort Smith area homes sales stall in November, mixed results for the year

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 23 views 

November home sales in Crawford and Sebastian counties dipped 4.9% compared to the year-ago period. Agents sold 135 homes last month valued at more than $17.279 million, down compared to 137 sales worth $18.179 million in the same month last year, according to Weichert King Realty Group in Fort Smith.

Sales volume through November in the two-county area rose 3.75% to $248.554 million. But the results are mixed between the counties. Sebastian County in the first 11 months of the year reported 1,299 sales valued at $182.728 million, rising 6.7% from the same period last year. In Crawford County, agents sold 545 homes through November with a value of $65.826 million, 3.75% less sales volume than the $68.316 million reported in the same period of 2014.

Jan Dyer, president of the Fort Smith Realtor Association, said 2015 has been positive in many respects for the Fort Smith area. She said the uptick in sales volume this year can be attributed to higher overall home prices and at least two $1 million home sales earlier this year.

The median home price for Sebastian County ($114,900) has risen 1.5%, while average sale prices ($115,250) are up 2.52% from a year ago, according to the Weichert data.

Kevin King, owner of Weichert King Realty, said his company’s business is up more than 20% this year, and through the middle of December he said his agents were busier than normal ahead of the holidays.

Dyer expects the local market will see between a 3% to 5% growth in overall sales volume for the year. She’s also bullish on the prospects for similar growth in 2016.

“The Fed’s recent rise in short-term interest rates is not a bad thing. It’s a sign that the overall national economy is strengthening. It’s also meant that those prospective buyers sitting on the fence have moved into the market or many will soon do so,” Dyer said. “There are some steady pockets of sales in recent months. Those in the lower range being fueled by first-time buyers and homes priced around $350,000.”

Dyer said there are several positive developments in Fort Smith helping to promote higher home sales. She said the new medical school – Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine – and better overall consumer confidence have been catalysts for the housing market in 2015.

“Our city (Fort Smith) is in a transition from a manufacturing base to one that is more service oriented. While that’s exciting to watch, this shift is expected to continue for the next few years.”

In October the Fort Smith area had 18,000 employed in the manufacturing sector, down 200 jobs from a year ago. Employment in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector added 100 jobs year-over-year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The region’s tourism sector declined by 500 jobs year-over-year. Education and Health Services created 400 more jobs in October compared to the same month last year.

Fort Smith’s metro jobless rate was 5.1% in October, just below the 5.3% in September, and lower than the 5.5% in October 2014.

HOME SALES (January-November)
• Crawford County
Unit Sales
2015: 545
2014: 1,299

Sales Volume
2015: $65.826 million
2014: $68.728 million

Median Sales Price
2015: $114,900
2014: $109,700

• Sebastian County
Unit Sales
2015: 1,299
2014: 1,251

Sales Volume
2015: $182.728 million
2014: $171.247 million

Median Sales Price
2015: $117,000
2014: $115,250

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