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story.lead_photo.caption Residential units sold

Almost 3,500 homes were sold in Arkansas last month, 10.2 percent more than were sold a year before, the Arkansas Realtors Association said Thursday.

There were 3,480 homes sold in the 43 counties surveyed by the association every month, the fifth consecutive month with a sales total above 3,000 -- 3,067 in March, 3,065 in April, 3,568 in May and 3,629 in June.

The June total of 3,629 homes sold was the highest monthly total since 2006, when sales first were compiled by the Realtors association.

The growth rate of home sales has slowed somewhat this year, said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

For the first seven months of 2018, there were 21,291 homes sold, only a 3.4 percent increase over the 20,588 sold for the same period last year.

"Overall, it's a market that is healthy but is not booming like it was when it still had some ground to make up from the big crash of the last decade," Pakko said.

The housing market is particularly strong in Northwest Arkansas, said John Carpenter, a senior vice president with Lindsey & Associates in Northwest Arkansas.

There currently are 1,861 active residential listings in Benton County and 802 in Washington County, Carpenter said. And there are 543 homes under contract with an accepted offer in Washington County and 899 in Benton County.

"So obviously there is quite a bit more inventory in Benton County," Carpenter said.

Homeowners listing their homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 price range are selling them in less than two weeks, Carpenter said.

"Those are selling almost immediately, usually with multiple offers," Carpenter said. "But it is now being extended out to the upper price ranges, meaning homes that are $500,000 or more."

There is a good mix of homes being sold, said Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Newly built homes are taking a bigger proportion or the homes being sold, Jebaraj said.

"Those new homes tend to be really expensive, and it's pushing the average price of homes sold up," Jebaraj said.

Benton County Realtors sold 3,651 homes in the first seven months of the year, the highest total in the state and up 2.4 percent over the same period last year. There were 347 more homes sold in Benton County through July than were sold in Pulaski County, which had the second highest total of 3,304.

The average price of homes sold in July in the 43 counties surveyed was $182,414, up 3.5 percent, the Realtors association said. The average home price in Benton County was almost $250,000, followed by Washington County at almost $225,000.

Interest rates on a 30-year, fixed rate conventional mortgage are about 4.5 percent, said Scott McElmurry, chief executive officer of Bank of Little Rock Mortgage, one of the larger mortgage lenders in the state.

The interest rate is only about 4.25 percent for a 15-year, fixed rate conventional loan, McElmurry said.

The rates have trended down a little in the past two or three weeks, McElmurry said.

"I think we're seeing some pent-up demand that happened over the past couple of years," McElmurry said.

Business on 08/24/2018

Print Headline: Arkansas' home sales climb 10.2% in July


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