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December home sales up in northwest Arkansas

By: 17 January 2011 No Comment

Considering how homes sales across Arkansas slumped in the second half of 2010, here’s a bit of a surprise — sales were up in northwest Arkansas in December.

According to statistics pulled from Arkansas Regional MLS (ARMLS), there were 456 homes sold in December in Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties — up 10.68 percent from 412 sales during the same month in 2009.

Sales in northwest Arkansas — and just about everywhere else — have been in decline since tax credits for home buyers expired in April. Specifically, sales fell sharply after June as people wanting to claim the credit were initially instructed to get homes under contract before May 1 and close on them before July 1. In northwest Arkansas, that means year-to-date sales last year trailed those in 2009 — 5,599 homes were sold in the aforementioned four counties last year, down 7.9 percent from 6.079 sales in 2009.

For a look at the other sales data, including average sales prices, list prices, the average number of days homes were on the market before they sold, the average and list prices per square foot and other information, click here for the Excel version of the December housing market report for northwest Arkansas and here for the PDF version.

Eric Harris, an agent with Weichert Realtors — Downum Group in Springdale, had a look at the December report and summed up what caused an increase in sales last month.

Eric Harris

Of course price is still king when it comes to home sales,” Harris said, pointing out that the price per square foot of homes sold in December dropped around $9 .

Indeed, the average sales price in December was $156,169, down 9.99 percent from $171,774 during the same month in 2009. The average sales price per square foot in December was $70.39, down 10.96 percent from $79.05 in December 2009.

In December, however, buyers got a little more bang for the buck than they did in the same month in 2009. The average home sold in northwest Arkansas in December was 2,064 square feet in size, while the average in the same month in 2009 was 2,029 square feet. In other words, the average buyer purchases a larger house for more money in December.

“The good news for sellers is that the days on market remained fairly stable,” Harris said. “December 2010 was a far better month than November 2010 in northwest Arkansas where we saw nearly 80 more homes sold than the previous month.

“However it is clearly a buyers market and, for the year, the number of homes sold actually decreased by 480 — an 8% drop. Interest rates are still great so buyers need to get out there but with the inventory on the market growth appears slow and steady for 2011.”

Harris’ comments echoed some made by the national Mortgage Bankers Association at the first of the month. The association predicts purchase originations will increase to $615 billion this year from $473 billion in 2010. Meanwhile, the association expects mortgage interest rates to rise gradually to 5.5 percent by the end of the year and hit 6 percent in 2012.

Stay tuned — we’ll have a central Arkansas report posted in the next few days. Get it here first.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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