While more homes were sold in July than in June across the state, sales in Faulkner County were down for the month and the year to date. About 9.6 percent fewer homes were sold than in 2010.

By this time in 2010, home sales by real estate agents totaled 757; in 2011, year to date, sales were 684, according to data collected by Roger Lewis of pulseofconway.net.

There were 115 sales in this July compared to 97 in July 2010.

Home prices for July are also down, Lewis said, from an average of $154,290 in 2010 to $149.449 in 2011, a decline of 3.14 percent.

Year-to-date, home prices are down 2.4 percent from an average of $155,880 in 2010 to $152,099 in 2011.

No permits have been issued this year for multi-family, apartment or duplex housing.

Building permits for single family dwellings are down 50 percent over last year, Lewis said, but July 2011 was up over last year by about 18.6 percent.

Velda Lueders, president of the Faulkner County Realtors, said Wednesday morning, "I just think our market is very steady compared to other areas. We’re pretty busy in our office.

"Some of the developers have held back on subdivisions until we see a more positive trend. But with interest rates where they are, we’re going to continue to see a steady market in Faulkner County. Lower rates will help people afford a house when they couldn’t previously.

"I’m optimistic that sales will pick up in the fall. The weather — the oppressive heat — kept a lot of folks indoors."

Hal Crafton, a Conway developer and builder, said the economy is only one reason for the decline in building permits this year.

"We’ve kinda boxed ourselves in," Crafton said. "I’m not an expert, but I think during the go-go years when Conway was growing so much, we raised our standards and probably set our rules and standards for the high end.

"So, we’re not the way we were 10 years ago when we could offer something for everybody. We’re just not affordable for the new homebuyer."

Lots are not available for someone who wants to build a $120,000 house, he said.

"I’m not saying anybody’s wrong. It’s just where we are," Crafton said.

Only 240 houses were built in 2010; with 150 estimated to be built in 2011, he said.

"The writing on the wall for 2012 is another slow year for residential building permits," Crafton said.  

Rhonda Rowlett of Rowlett Realty in Greenbrier said the market in the northern Faulkner County is "doing good."

"First-time homebuyers are still out buying, rates are lower than they’ve ever been," Rowlett said. "In our area, first-time homebuyers qualify for USDA Rural Development loans that are zero down. That has helped our local sales on affordable existing homes. In that price range, houses are still moving.

"In addition to that, we have one of the best school districts in the nation, and we’ve had several new businesses open this year. Greenbrier is the place to be. For first-time buyers in Greenbrier we can get them in a new home for zero down. They’ll pay less than rent and a deposit. We are fortunate in that."

Of the 42 Arkansas counties reporting, Pulaski County had the most home sales in July with 376, followed by Benton County with 290, Washington County with 200, Saline County with 130 and Faulkner County with 115.

(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at becky.harris@thecabin.net and 505-1234.)