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Central Arkansas homes sales up in November

By: 21 December 2011 One Comment

After four months of increased sales compared to year-ago totals, sales followed yearly trends in central Arkansas in November and were higher compared to the same month in 2010.

Before getting into that, it’s necessary to mention a couple of things about our data used to compile monthly housing market reports and the accuracy of it. Such a conversation is necessary in light of reports from the likes of the Wall Street Journal that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has — knowingly or unknowingly — inflated national homes sales reports since 2007 and is due to revise its numbers downward. Here at First Arkansas News, we reported back in February that CoreLogic — a real estate analytics firm in Santa Ana, Calif. — accused the NAR of overstating 2010 sales numbers by as much as 20 percent.

That story had legs, seemingly, as the Curious Capitalist — a commentary service provided by Time Business — reports that the NAR may have overstated its sales by as many as 3 million homes since 2007. It seems the problem has to do with using baseline data based on the 2000 U.S. Census and piling a few assumptions on top of that. For a decidedly pointed critique of the NAR’s overstatement of sales, check out this article from the New York Post.

At any rate, it is important to point out that we at First Arkansas News are using numbers provided by Cooperative Arkansas Realtors MLS (CARMLS), which keeps tracks of the number of honest-to-goodness closed sales of new and existing, single-family residences. Realtors are involved in all of those transactions, meaning we don’t count how many sellers went the “for sale by owner” (FSBO) route. There’s no way to accurately count those sales, and assuming that a certain percentage of homes were sold without the involvement of Realtors and then working that made up number into the reports is simply asking for trouble. The vast majority of homes sold in central Arkansas involve Realtors, so we’re content to count that activity.

Having said all of that, what happened in the markets in November? First off, we do take a look at the central Arkansas counties of Faulkner, Grant, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties, but we also include sales from the nearby counties of Jefferson and White as those two areas are close enough to the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area to be influenced by economic activity in central Arkansas.

In that expanded central Arkansas market, then, 616 homes were sold in November, up 10.59 percent from 557 sales in the same month last year and down 23.67 percent from 807 sales in the 11th month of 2009. The average sales price was $162,304, down 1.86 percent from $165,383 in November 2010 and up 1.33 percent from $160,174 in the same month in 2009.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that monthly totals have been somewhat erratic all year long, thanks to an economy and real estate market that’s still in recovery. Taking a look at year-to-year comparisons can give us a better picture of how the market fared in 2011 — we’ve got data for most of the year and, as such, the peaks and valleys tend to level out and reveal the trends that have generally been present in central Arkansas throughout 2011.

Through November, 7,730 homes were sold in central Arkansas — down 4.32 percent from 8,079 sales through the first 11 months of 2010 and down 12.41 percent from 8,829 sales in 2009. The average sales price in 2011 was $158,308 — down 1.7 percent from $161,045 in 2010 and up 1.15 percent from $156,512 in 2009. In short, both sales and prices are still recovering.

Bear in mind that we’re not exactly comparing apples-to-apples here. A series of home buyer tax credits were put in place in April 2008 and those influenced sales through June of last year by offering first-time purchasers up to $8,500 and repeat buyers up to $6,500. In other words, the numbers we’re reporting from 2009 and the first half of 2010 are inflated by the credits as people will buy houses when they are paid to do so. It’s no wonder, then, the year-to-year comparisons from 2011  come up a bit short.

Click here for the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file of the 2011 report. The spreadsheet reveals not only the data discussed in this article, but also list prices, days on market, sales-to-list ratios, median sales prices, prices per square foot and other information on a county-by-county basis.

What happened in the northwest Arkansas market in November? Click here to read all about it.

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

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