A warmer than usual winter helped to fuel single family home sales 14.82% higher during the first two months of 2016, with sales volume in Benton and Washington counties totaling $202.8 million, well ahead of the $176.617 million during the first two months of 2015.
Agents in the two-county area sold 1,070 homes in January and February compared to 928 sales in the year-ago period, according to data provided by Weichert Downum Group in Springdale. Both counties posted higher unit sales to begin 2016, but in Washington County sales volume is down related to lower median sales prices for the first time in more than two years. The decline in median homes sales relates to more entry-level home construction than in prior years and is one metric that bears watching in future months.
Eric Harris, agent with Weichert Downum Group, said the mild winter weather has helped with new construction in the Northwest Arkansas market, “giving way to more new (construction) home sales. It has also helped with existing home sales as buyers have been able to get out and not be hindered by bad weather.”
Harris reported that there were 90 sales of newly constructed homes in February. He said 24 were in Washington County and had a median price of $175,300. The 66 new homes sold in Benton County had a median sales price of $251,932. New home sales comprised 11% of total February sales in Washington County and 19% of the homes sold in Benton County last month.
In February, Benton County had 346 home sales valued at $70.113 million, up compared to 291 sales worth $57.155 million a year ago. Median prices rose to $173,000, up 6.3% year-over-year.
Washington County agents sold 218 homes last month for a cumulative value of $37.624 million. Sales data was mixed as unit sales rose slightly from 196, while overall volume was down fractionally to $37.624 million. Median home prices in Washington County were $153,000, down 7% year-over-year.
Together the two counties has total February sales of $107.737 million, up 13.57% year-over-year.
Nicky Dou, broker with Keller Williams in Bentonville, said 2016 is off to a great start for her firm. Dou has been the top selling agent in Northwest Arkansas for two consecutive years (2014 and 2015).
“This year’s going to be another awesome year. So far I already have $10 million either closed or pending and it’s just mid-March. Prices are continuing to rise especially new construction primarily because there is solid demand and building costs are rising,” Dou said.
She said in some areas existing home prices are holding steady as some locations are selling better than others.
Interest rates in Arkansas ticked up slightly this week to 3.63% for a 30-year fixed rate. The rate was 3.55% last week and remains one of the lowest rates historically. The 15-year fixed rate rose to 2.83% from 2.77% last week, according to Bankrate.com.
With more buyers than usual out in February, it remains to be seen if that will put a damper on March and April sales. Dou said the market has been steady with activity for the past two years and she doesn’t expect much of a slowdown, especially this spring.
HOME SALES (January-February 2016)
2016: $132.428 million
2015: $103.194 million
Median Sales Price
2016: $70.375 million
2015: $73.422 milion
Median Sales Price