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Central Arkansas homes sales up, too

By: 26 August 2011 One Comment

Just last week, we at First Arkansas News posted an article showing that homes sales in northwest Arkansas were up in July compared to the same month a year ago but sales prices were down.

The numbers from central Arkansas are in and the results are pretty much the same. Indeed, sales were up considerably in July in Faulkner, Grant, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties in that 716 homes were sold in July — an increase of 21.56 percent over 589 sales a year ago, but 15.47 percent down from 847 sales in July 2009. The average sales price in July was $169,514 — down 6.45 percent from $181,195 in the same month last year and down 3.29 percent from $175,282 in July 2009.

July was a month to watch because we’re comparing against a month in which a tax credit wasn’t a significant factor for the first time in a couple of years. In April 2008, the federal government offered a tax credit to first-time home buyers as an incentive to purchase homes. That program was expanded a couple of times and ended in April 2010. During the last tax credit program, qualified buyers were instructed to get homes under contract before May 1 last year and close on them prior to July 1 — qualified first-time buyers received up to $8,000 while repeat buyers netted up to $6,500.

The July report gives us the chance to finally see how sales compared in two periods in which tax credits didn’t influence the numbers. To have a look at the July housing market report, click here for the Excel file or here for the PDF. Bear in mind the report reflects sales of single-family, new and existing homes listed by Realtors.

What does that report tell us? It seems that sales are up, but prices are down. Furthermore, it’s clear that homes are sitting on the market longer — 88.98 days on average in July compared to 75.41 days in the same month last year. The average price per square foot fell in July to $81.19 in central Arkansas from $83.08 a year ago.

The bottom line for sellers, then, is that it takes homes longer to sell these days and buyers are paying less on average than they were a year ago. However, sellers in central Arkansas did net 95.95 percent of their list prices on average, meaning people who priced their homes at fair market value generally sold them for a prices close to what they expected.

The good news for buyers is that interest rates are hovering around historic lows. According to the national Mortgage Bankers Association, interest rates on Aug. 19 averaged 4.39 percent on a 30-year mortgage and 3.56 percent on a 15-year mortgage.

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

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