Local home sales in the month of October show improvements over last year’s numbers according to a report compiled by Arkansas Realtors Association, but year-to-date numbers for Faulkner County show the market is relatively stable year over year.
Cooperative Arkansas Realtors Multiple Listing Services, CARMLS, an information system used by Arkansas realtors associations, shows overall sales in Faulkner County from Jan. 2011 to Nov. 2011 at 1,054 traditional homes sold. Overall sales to date this year are 1,053, with a difference of one home or unit.
The average price of a home rose over last year by 3.5 percent. The average home in Faulkner County costs $161,361.
November numbers provided by CARMLS show a slight decline in home sales for the area, but Bill Tobias, numbers cruncher, realtor and reporter to the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, said a decline this time of year is "part of the normal bell curve."
Homes shown to potential buyers in the fall may be listed as sold in the winter because it can take about a month to close on a home.
Tobias said it can take about 30 days for the process to be completed.
Ninety traditional homes were sold in October, and 84 in November in Faulkner County, Tobias said.
Financial concerns in Europe, a presidential election, weather and the job market are potential factors in a slower market this season, Tobias said.
"Sales are seasonally affected by weather. A warmer winter can cause the seasonal shift to occur earlier in the year. Perhaps the job market, what’s going on with European organizations and the fiscal cliff are part of it. There are a lot of dynamics," he said.
Local trends for the past four years show a bell curve, with peak home sales in May through July.
The market in Faulkner County has remained fairly consistent, Tobias said, because of a progressive local government, businesses like Hewlett-Packard and expansions at existing companies like Kimberly Clark.
The natural gas industry has also played a role, he said.
Statewide, the housing market has remained unusually steady through November and early December according to Bob Walker, president of Coldwell Banker RPM out of Little Rock and former president of Arkansas Realtors Association.
"November has been a strong month, and most realtors I’ve talked to have said the same thing, that they’ve had a strong November. I’ve been doing this 37 years and it usually tapers off until after the first of the year, but it has remained strong through all of November and looks like that into December so far," Walker said.
According to Walker, central Arkansas was "bolstered" after the presidential election, and potential buyers "on the fence, jumped in" and made decisions to purchase homes.
"We heard a lot of people talking about not doing anything until after the election. After the uncertainty was over, people made their purchases," he said.
Interest rates at historical lows have also helped to keep sales unusually high, he said.
"The government and others are trying to get the economy going in the right direction. We don’t want what happened in the mid-80s to happen again when interest rates were at 18 and 18 and a half percent," said Walker. "If you have a real estate market that’s moving, it has been shown our country becomes healthy and is moving. A real estate transaction pumps $50,000 to $60,000 into the local economy."
Conway’s Tiffany Williams is about to close on a home in the city limits. She’ll miss Christmas in the new house by a couple of weeks, but she’ll spend her birthday there, she said.
"I’m going to start of the new year right, and what better gift for my birthday," she said.
Williams began the process of purchasing her first home in the traditional peak time, in the summer.
"It took me a while to get my bearings and do some personal things before exploring it and really getting involved in it," she said. "I am super excited and scared at the same time."
Williams said the process was not difficult, but a 30-year commitment is "definitely scary."
A historically low interest rate gave her the "push" she said, along with having family in the area, including her son who will graduate high school next year.
Williams said she got more out of a home than she’d expected. She said the price of her home was reasonable, and she got everything on her "wish list."
She thanks her realtor, Shay Carolina, for finding a home she could afford that had a shower and bathtub in the master suite, a split floor plan and hardwood floors.
"I got everything that was on my wish list. Those things were important to me," Williams said.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)