Saline County home prices up for April, year
Why is that unusual? There were tax credits in place for qualifying home buyers in 2010 and 2009 — one might expect home prices from a time when the federal government wasn’t paying people to buy homes to be down when compared to times when buyers got cash when purchasing houses. That hasn’t happened in Saline County so far, where the average sales price of new and existing homes in April was $165,373 – up 5.54 percent compared to the same month last year when the average was $156,688 and up 1.99 percent from $162,139 in 2009. Through April, the average sales price in Saline County was $159,002 – up slightly from $158,646 in the first four months of 2010 and 1.24 percent higher than $157,062 in 2009.
Nationally, sales prices fell as expected. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), averages sales prices of existing homes slipped 5 percent in April. The Arkansas Realtors Association (ARA) reported sales prices fell statewide in April to $137,660 — down 2.04 percent from $140,351 in the same month a year ago.
While we’ve seen the number of sales drop nationally, across Arkansas and in Saline County, the gains in sales prices in Saline County are encouraging, Benton-Bryant Realtors Association President Mike Cottingham. He said population growth in the area and the ability of Realtors to accurately price homes have contributed to a stable market. While a 32.34 percent drop in the number of homes sold in April isn’t encouraging, at least those homes are gaining in value on average and there are still active buyers in the market.
“Generally, Realtors in our area are doing a good job of informing Sellers on the front end about the property values in the local market,” he said. “Sure there is some room for negotiation, but the numbers show that Saline County is a very desirable area to raise a family and a great investment for the future. That equals continued growth.”
Cottingham pointed out one problem that agents in Saline County have is that some buyers assume that sellers are desperate and willing to accept low offers. In Saline County, however, sellers received an average of 96.24 percent of their list prices. There’s room for negotiation, but Cottingham said buyers in the county aren’t giving their homes away out of desparation.
Cottingham said sellers are in a good position these days as the county is growing dramatically, meaning people are still looking for places to live. According to 2010 Census, the population of Saline County last year was 107,118 – up 28.24 percent from 83,529 people in 2000. It’s worth mentioning that 2010 was the first year in which the population in the area exceeded 100,000 people as Census estimates put the number of people living in Saline County at 99,449 in 2009.
As for drops in the number of homes sold, that was expected. Bear in mind that the federal government put tax credits in place in April 2008 and those expired in 2010. Under the final round of those credits, qualifying new home buyers could receive up to $8,000 in tax credits while repeat purchasers got up to $6,500. Those buyers were directed to get homes under contract prior to May 1 last year and close on them before July 1.
The April 2011 report covers closed sales that went under contract in primarily March and February. That being the case, the reports for May and June will be compared against sales that were influenced by tax credits in 2010. We’ll not be able to see an “apples-to-apples” comparison until the July report is issued. The National Association of Realtors has, time and time again, stated that sales dropped after the tax credits were removed, so expect to see some declines in the number of homes sold in the next couple of Saline County reports.
Meanwhile, we’ve listed open houses here at First Arkansas News in the Saline County area for the past few months. If you’re in the market to buy a home in the area, click here for a list of those open houses. The list is updated every Friday and open houses are generally held every Sunday.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.