Benton County home sales top $1 billion in 2015, two-county sales up almost 13%

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 46 views 

It was no surprise to see Northwest Arkansas homes sales volume surpass $1.57 billion in 2015 given the strong monthly sales posted throughout the year. Agents sold 8,382 homes in 2015 compared to 7,314 home sales in the 2014, with Benton County sales topping the $1 billion mark.

Home sales for the Benton and Washington counties rose 12.94% from $1.39 billion in 2014 which represents the best year on record for the region, according to data provided from the Weichert Downum Group in Springdale.

Benton County home sales had been in recent years neared the $1 billion level. Helped along by a 13.7% rise in the number of units sold and higher median home values, total sales volume rose 17.9% to $1.079 billion during 2015.

Washington County also produced solid results during 2015. Agents sold 3,070 homes valued at $494.27 million, according to the Weichert data, up compared to 2,643 unit sales valued at $476.3 million during 2014. Sales volume rose 3.77%, while unit sales increased 16% from a year ago.

Eric Harris, agent with Weichert Downum Group in Springdale, said his company’s annual sales rose 27% year-over-year.

“As a whole, 2015 was a great year for real estate in Northwest Arkansas,” Harris said.

Nicky Dou, broker with Keller Williams in Bentonville, sells homes in Benton County and is not surprised by the growth she has seen in the Bentonville market in recent years. Dou was the top earning agent in Northwest Arkansas in 2014 with total sales volume of $29.654 million. Dou said she closed 2015 with $39.816 million, and it was a record year in her book. Dou works in a small team of three, but said the numbers she shared were just her own.

Total sales volume increases in both counties were fueled in part by rising home prices. The median home prices rose 8.21% in Benton County during 2015 climbing to a high of $168,875 for the year. Median home prices in Washington County reached $161,000 in 2015, which was 7.33% higher than in 2014. Dou said home prices are rising across the region in part led by the new home market.

“I have seen new home prices going up about $2 per square foot about every 6 months and in some areas even more than that. But I feel there is going to be a cap on those increases which I am guessing will be within the next 2 to 3 years,” Dou said.

George Faucette, CEO of the local Coldwell Banker franchise, said his firm has plenty of reasons to smile about their growth on 2015. The local firm closed sales of $575 million last year, an increase 13% or $65 million over 2014.

“We closed 2,876 units, which represented a 11% increase year-over-year. Our average sales price increased about 2%,” Faucette said. “We are projecting continued sales volume growth in 2016, but the percentage of growth could be more moderate by what I believe will be only slight rise in interest rates. On the other hand, a projected increase in interest rates could have the opposite effect, causing buyers to accelerate their purchase plans while rates remain low.”

Faucette said the firm also increased its sales staff by 11% during the year with most of the new hires being millennials just getting started in their careers.

“We are very excited about the energy and commitment of all of our new associates.  We will continue to hire committed sales associates to our staff in 2016,” he said.

The region is still growing its population at 1.9% annually, or by about 25 people a day. Kathy Deck, director for the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, said the local population is growing 2.5 times faster than the rest of the country’s 0.75% average.

ROBUST DECEMBER
Santa Claus was good to Northwest Arkansas real estate agents this year ringing up 699 homes sales in the month of December. Unit sales rose 25.79% from the same month in 2014. December is usually not a busy month for sales given the holiday season, but agents reported being busier than normal with transfers into and out of the region as well as new home deals.

Benton County had 482 home sales last month, valued at $100.280 million. Unit sales rose 38%, while sales volume increased 44.6% year-over-year. In Washington County agents sold 217 homes in December valued at $38.504 million, up compared to 207 sales valued at $36.148 million in the year-ago period. Sales volume increased 6.5%, while units sales rose 4.83% year-over-year.

BY THE NUMBERS
Benton County
Unit Sales
2015: 5,312
2014: 4,671
2013: 4,596

Sales Volume
2015: $1.079 billion
2014: $915.260 million
2013: $849.665 million

Median Sales Price
2015: $168,875
2014: $157,000
2013: $150,000

Washington County
Unit Sales
2015: 3,070
2014: 2,643
2013: 2,672

Sales Volume
2015: $494.270 million
2014: $476.302 million
2013: $473.546 million

Median Sales Price
2015: $161,000
2014: $150,000
2013: $148,000

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