The fast pace of home sales in the second half of 2015 has not slowed down, with home sales in Arkansas’ four large markets during the first two months of 2016 up more than 17%. Home sales in the markets were up 9.86% in 2015 compared to 2014.
Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets totaled 1,655 in February, up 12.74% compared to February 2015 and up 19.5% compared to February 2014, according to The Arkansas Home Sales Report.
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 and is sponsored by El Dorado-based Deltic Timber.
Only the Jonesboro metro reported a decline (down 6.06%) in February home sales.
The value of combined February home sales in the markets was $273.21 million, up 10.86% compared to February 2015 and up 26.37% against February 2014. However, the average home price ($165,082) fell 1.67% in February compared to February 2015.
THE JANUARY-FEBRUARY COMPARISON
Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets during January and February totaled 3,160, up 17.34% compared to the same period in 2015 and up 20.29% compared to the same period in 2014.
Combined value of the homes sold in the two-month period totaled $515.493 million, up 17.44% compared to the same period in 2015 and up a healthy 30.14% compared to the two-month period in 2014. The average price per home sold in the four markets was $163,131, just 0.08% above that in the first two months of 2015.
The January-February 2016 home sales were up 11.79% in central Arkansas, up an impressive 64.92% in the Fort Smith metro, up 6.62% in the Jonesboro metro and up 15.3% in Northwest Arkansas. Benton County in Northwest Arkansas and Pulaski County in central Arkansas are the state’s busiest in terms of home sales. Of the 3,160 home sales in the first two months, 1,321, or 41.8%, were in the two counties.
The value of home sales for the first two months was up 11.35% in central Arkansas ($218.709 million), up 75.8% in the Fort Smith metro ($52.039 million), up 15.52% in the Jonesboro metro ($41.939 million), and up 14.83% in Northwest Arkansas ($202.805 million).
Days on market in January-February averaged 97.12, better than the 104.65 in January-February 2015.
Kevin King, a broker with Weichert King Group in Fort Smith, said the mild winter has created more business ahead of what is the normal spring selling season.
“Activity in the market has seen significant increase in number of showings and offers including many situations where there are multiple offers on the same property within days of hitting the market,” King said when asked about the unusually strong sales for the Fort Smith metro. “These are definitely signs that spring is getting close and with it we’ll see the addition of more homes coming on the market with renters and homeowners making plans for buying a home this spring/summer while kids are out of school.”
He said a 3% growth rate in the Fort Smith metro area would be deemed a strong year overall. Given the pace in the first two months, the market bears closer watching to see if the growth is an anomaly or pent up demand coming forward.
Eric Harris, an agent with Weichert Downum Group in Northwest Arkansas, said the mild winter weather has helped with new construction in the Northwest Arkansas market, “giving way to more new 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 said new home sales comprised 11% of the total February sales in Washington County and 19% of the homes sold in Benton County.
Michael Pakko, state economic forecaster at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has said an improving housing market and better labor market is a good overall indicator for the Arkansas economy in 2016.
Arkansas’ jobless rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point in February to an all-time low of 4.2%, well below the nation’s unemployment rate of 4.9% and well ahead of year-ago levels when 5.5% of the state’s labor pool was unemployed, according to the figures released March 25 by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, Arkansas’ civilian labor force increased a robust 6,146, a result of 10,142 more employed and 3,996 fewer unemployed Arkansans.
All of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate declines in February compared to February 2015. Arkansas’ three largest metro areas posted year-over-year job gains, with Northwest Arkansas up 8.18%, central Arkansas up 4.34%, and the Fort Smith metro up 2.41%.
THE REGIONAL PICTURE: January-February 2016
Central Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-Feb. 2016: 672
Jan.-Feb. 2015: 544
Jan.-Feb. 2014: 611
Fort Smith area — Home sales
Jan.-Feb. 2016: 135
Jan.-Feb. 2015: 118
Jan.-Feb. 2014: 113
Jonesboro area — Home sales
Jan.-Feb. 2016: 150
Jan.-Feb. 2015: 126
Jan.-Feb. 2014: 127
Northwest Arkansas — Home sales
Jan.-Feb. 2016: 527
Jan.-Feb. 2015: 436
Jan.-Feb. 2014: 403
The top five counties in terms of January-February 2016 home sales:
Benton — 674, up compared to 549 in January-February 2015
Pulaski — 647, up compared to 564 in January-February 2015
Washington — 396, up compared to 379 in January-February 2015
Sebastian — 276, up compared to 169 in January-February 2015
Craighead — 245, up compared to 230 in January-February 2015
Link here for a PDF document of the February 2016 data.
THE 2015 PICTURE
Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets were up almost 10% in 2015, and marked five consecutive years of gains in the number of homes sold and four consecutive years of gains in the total value of the homes sold.
Home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets totaled 24,125 in 2015, up 9.86% compared to 2014 and up 14.6% compared to 2013. The 2015 gains were driven by a a double-digit annual gain in Northwest Arkansas, according to The Arkansas Home Sales Report.
2015 home sales were up 8.66% in central Arkansas, up 6.22% in the Fort Smith metro, up 3.57% in the Jonesboro metro and up 14.7% in Northwest Arkansas.
The value of home sales was up 11.62% in central Arkansas ($1.832 billion), up 8.66% in the Fort Smith metro ($312.801 million), up 11.14% in the Jonesboro metro ($316.576 million), and up 13.55% in Northwest Arkansas ($1.573 billion).