Fort Smith metro home sales picture improves on rising real estate values

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 185 views 

There were 1,655 homes sold in the Fort Smith metro area valued at $241.964 million through the first nine months of this year. Unit sales in Crawford and Sebastian counties increased just 2.41% from the 1,616 homes sold in the year-ago period.

However, sales volume jumped 10.5% from $218.946 million a year ago thanks to higher average home prices in each of the two counties.

The hike in overall sales volume is directly linked to a near 6% increase in average home prices in Sebastian County this year over last. Prices in Crawford County are up a whopping 12% from 2015, according to data provided by King Weichert Real Estate in Fort Smith.

Rising home prices in the Fort Smith metro are part of a bigger trend nation wide, according to Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo. He said data in housing has been mixed but the cost of new construction has never been higher in many markets. He said tight labor and higher land costs have pushed home construction costs upward creating the biggest gap ever between existing and new sales prices.

Existing homes make up the lion’s share of the Fort Smith metro housing market but rising new home prices can hoist up values overall. The average home price in Sebastian County was $147,610 through September pushed higher by a number of executive level home sales. In September there were several high-dollar sales in Sebastian County valued at $800,000 $725,000, $675,000 and $519,000, which help to push average prices upward. There have also been three homes sold this year for more than $1 million in Sebastian County. It took an average of 133 days for homes to sell in Sebastian County this year from the listing day to contract.

In Crawford County the average sales price through September was $127,032, also boosted by several higher-end deals. In September the highest sales made were valued at $318,000, $305,000 and $276,000. The highest price home sold in Crawford County this year occurred in January, a $525,000 home for $105 per square foot. That home was on the market for 5.5 years. The average home sale in Crawford County this year 137 days from listing to contract.

Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, recently told Talk Business & Politics that rising home prices are deemed positive for homeowners, and can also stimulate the economy. Deck said there is a definite link between rising home prices and overall stronger consumer confidence given that the biggest asset most families own is their home. She said the one thing different about this post-recession price growth is homeowners aren’t using their homes as ATM machines – tapping out the equity like they did prior to 2008.

Perhaps that’s because lending practices are more stringent under Dodd Frank federal banking regulation. Arvest Bank, one of the largest mortgage lenders in the  region, said it’s refinance activity in 2016 has been less than the new purchase loans they have made over the past couple of years. Arvest Mortgage recently reported that 64% of its mortgage loan origination values were for new purchases.

Kevin King, of King Weichert Real Estate, said September was a good month with 181 sales valued at $25.99 million in Sebastian County. Unit sales are up 19% from the same month last year. Total sales volume rose 29% year-over-year. The larger percentage of executive homes sold in September pushed averages prices up to $156,975, compared to  $139,751 last year. Median prices were down slightly in September to $122,000 compared to $125,450 a year ago. The days on market stood at around 100 in September, nearly even with a year ago.

Crawford County had 84 homes sold in September with a combined valued of $10.161 million. Unit sales jumped 35.4% in September and sales volume increased 60% from a year ago. Average prices in September were slightly lower than a year ago at $132,971. Median prices were also lower year-over-year at $110,600 in September, which was about $5 per square foot cheaper than a year ago.

HOME SALES STATS (January – September)
Crawford County
Unit Sales
2016: 476
2015: 470

Sales Volume
2016: $67.932 million
2015: $56.299 million

Median Sales Price
2016: $114,700
2015: $112,371

Average Sales Price
2016: $127,031
2015: $113,254

Sebastian County
Unit Sales
2016: 1,179
2015: 1,146

Sales Volume
2016: $174.032 million
2015: $162.647 million

Median Sales Price
2016: $119,900
2015: $119,000

Average Sales Price
2016: $147,610
2015: $139,

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