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Sales up, prices down again in central Arkansas

By: 26 September 2011 No Comment

It’s not exactly a trend yet, but the expanded August housing market report for central Arkansas shows that prices were up and sales were down for the second straight month.

Before getting into that, it’s important to point out that we’ve expanded the central Arkansas housing market reports we post monthly at First Arkansas News by adding a couple of counties — Jefferson and White.

Those two counties aren’t in the proper Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), but they are close enough to the region to be relevant to the central Arkansas market. It’s hard to argue against the notion that what goes on in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Searcy (White County) are of interest to people keeping an eye on the central Arkansas economy as a whole.

Starting with the August report, then, we’ll add Jefferson and White counties statistics to the expected data from Faulkner, Grant, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties. The reports reflect closed sales of single-family, residential units as reported by area Realtors through Cooperative Arkansas Realtors MLS (CARMLS).

Having said that, click here for the Microsoft Excel version of the expanded August and year-to-date housing market reports or here for the PDF. Two facts are immediately apparent — sales were up and average prices were down on average in the seven counties surveyed.

There were 841 homes sold in August — up 22.77 percent from 685 sales in the same month last year and up 5.26 percent from 799 closed sales in August 2009. The average sales price in August was $162,189 — down 3.93 percent from $168,815 in the same month a year ago and down 2.34 percent from $166,073 in August 2009.

The increased sales and lower average prices were observed in July in central Arkansas and the same thing happened in northwest Arkansas in both August and July, too.

So, what’s influencing increased sales? Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, said there’s still a lot of “fear” in the market and that’s pushing prices lower. However, buyers are attracted by those lower prices and low interest rates. Those low interest rates remain — on Sept. 9, the average national rate on a 30-year, fixed interest mortgage was 4.17 percent and 3.4 percent on a 15-year mortgage.

Deck said, in short, typical market dynamics are in play. She said it’s typical for prices to drop to the point where people are willing to purchase homes again and that’s pretty well what’s happening at this point.

She said if we see sales improve and stabilize over the next few months, we may also see prices stabilize and start to rise, too.

Deck also pointed out the market is operating without any atypical stimulus packages from the federal government. In April 2008 through April 2010, various tax credits were in place for qualified home buyers. The last batch of credits essentially ran out in July last year for qualified first-time and repeat buyers who got homes under contract by the end of April of that year and closed by the July 1 deadline.

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

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