Fort Smith area home sales rally more than 30% in January

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 64 views 

Agents in the Fort Smith metro area should be pleased with January home sales volume up 37% in Sebastian County and 31% in Crawford County over the same month last year. It’s certainly a good start to 2016.

Kevin King, broker with Weichert King Real Estate in Fort Smith, said sales were down slightly from December which were most likely held up by demand for end of year write offs. He expects 2016 sales will continue to increase moderately throughout out the year over 2015 results given what he believes is a stronger overall economy.

There were 95 homes sold in January in Sebastian County with a cumulative value of $14.371 million, compared to 83 home sales worth $10.472 million in the same month last year, according to King, as well as MountData.com.

While overall unit sales were higher, so was the average sales price helping to widen the gap over last year. Average sales prices are up 2.5% from a year ago for the month of January. The median sales price – the middle value – also rose year-over-year to $119,000, up nearly 7% from the $111,225 reported in January 2015. That means half of the homes in the market sold for less than $119,000 and half sold for more than that amount. The median sales price is $7,775 higher than a year ago which indicates a stronger overall seller’s market.

In Crawford County the story was much the same as agents sold 40 homes in January, five more than the 35 home sales reported a year ago. Total sales volume rose 31% to $4.787 million year-over-year. Rising home prices continue to boost the overall sales increase from a year ago. Average home prices totaled $129,387 in January, compared to $104,483 a year ago. On a square-foot basis, the median sales price in Crawford County was $70 in January, compared to $65 a square-foot in the year-ago period.

King said seasonal sales should pick up in the spring and summer months which should continue the slow, but steady recovery in the regional housing market. He said sellers continue to outnumber buyers in the majority of price ranges across the market but remodeling improvements, staging efforts and aggressive pricing continue to make a difference in getting homes sold faster with less difficulty. The median days on market for January was 128, up slightly from the 125 days on market reported a year ago.

“Rates continue to hover around 4% and buyers applying for financing of more than 80% of the purchase price must consider the additional cost of mortgage insurance. It’s important in my opinion to get preapproved as early in the buying process as possible and stay with a local lender who is used to the local and statewide closing procedures,” King said.

He doesn’t see any major setbacks from interest rates.

Real estate is a local metric tied closely to employment and as unemployment numbers improve and overall wages increase, so does buyer demand, according to economist Kathy Deck, director for the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas.

Deck said recently the Fort Smith metro area remains in a state of transition and recovery from the manufacturing base it was just a few year ago to a more service-oriented employment base.

“This takes time and ongoing investment, which is starting to take shape in the Fort Smith area,” Deck said. “The recovery in this market is ongoing,”

HOME SALES DATA (January 2016)
Sebastian County
Unit Sales
2016: 95
2015: 83
2014: 75

Sales Volume
2016: $14.371 million
2015: $10.472 million
2014: $9.318 million

Median Sales Price
2016: $119,000
2015: $111,225
2014: $113,500

Crawford County
Unit Sales
2016: 40
2015: 35
2014: 38

Sales Volume
2016: $4.787 million
2015: $3.656 million
2014: $3.889 million

Median Sales Price
2016: $88,000
2015:$104,950
2014: $89,500

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