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Real estate sales up, prices down in northwest Arkansas

By: 26 February 2011 No Comment

“They speak for themselves.”

That’s the comment Eric Harris, a Realtor with Weichert Realtors — Downum Group in Springdale, had when he looked over the January housing market numbers detailing sales of new and existing homes in Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties in northwest Arkansas.

Point taken.

Click here to have a look at the northwest Arkansas housing market report for northwest Arkansas. You’ll notice more than a few similarities between that report and the one from central Arkansas posted here at First Arkansas News the other day. Specifically, more homes were sold in January than in the same month a year ago, but average sales prices fell.

The report shows that 337 homes were sold in northwest Arkansas last month, up 41 percent from 239 sales a year ago. The average sales price in January was $146,153 in January, down 7.09 percent from $158,479 a year ago. The average sales price of $146,153 was 93.81 percent of the average list price of $155,801. The sales-to-list price ratio in January 2010 was 94.51 percent a year ago.

Compare those figures to 2005 when the housing market was at its peak in northwest Arkansas and just about everyone else in the nation. In January 2005, 519 homes were sold in northwest Arkansas at an average price of $173,558. With that in mind, what’s happening in the housing market in northwest Arkansas is fairly obvious — there’s still downward pressure on home prices as the market continues to recover.

Also, smaller homes are more popular with northwest Arkansas buyers than they were a year ago. The average home sold in northwest Arkansas in January was 1,948 square feet — down 2.84 percent from 2,005 square feet a year ago. The average sales price per square foot in January was $68.45 — down 9.51 percent from $75.64 a year ago.

In the final analysis, it appears that shrinking home prices have motivated more than a few northwest Arkansas buyers to purchase homes. Indeed, buyers are in a position these days to get some real bang for the buck in the housing market.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales of existing homes were up around the nation. The NAR made a big deal out of the improved sales and that’s no surprise — that organization has told us we’re on the verge of a housing market recovery virtually every month for the past four years regardless of what trends the sales data reveals. Given its track record, enthusiastic reports from the NAR are best taken with a grain of salt (click the link to read a Wall Street Journal post addressing the ever-rosy reports from the trade group). It’s not just the Wall Street Journal questioning the NAR’s statistics and the methods used to collect and explain them — little old organizations such as the New York Times have been scratching their heads over the trade group’s uber-rosy reports for months.

That said, the January reports from both central and northwest Arkansas are encouraging, but we’re not pointing to them as evidence of a pending recovery just yet.

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

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