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The 2,727 homes sold in Arkansas in September, a drop of 9.5 percent compared with September last year, accounted for the biggest decline of the year, according to the Arkansas Realtors Association.

About 3,015 homes were sold in September last year in the 43 counties surveyed by the Realtors association every month, primarily the state's largest counties.

Benton County Realtors sold 452 homes in September, followed by sales of 399 in Pulaski County and 277 in Washington County.

It was a disappointingly weak September, said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

"It was a much larger drop-off than we usually see in September," Pakko said. "And that was after an August that was elevated relative to the earlier summer months. I wouldn't be surprised if October comes in a little bit stronger as well, given that sharp drop off for one month."

Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, wasn't concerned about the September drop.

"You're looking at just one month [performance]," Jebaraj said.

It was really just a one-month blip, but it was enough to bring down the quarterly average, Pakko said.

Pakko noted that the sales declines came in some of Arkansas' strongest sales counties, such as Benton County, down 19 percent; Pulaski County, down 14 percent; and Faulkner County, down 26.5 percent.

Arkansas still looks like it's on pace to finish the year near where it was last year, Jebaraj said.

There have been 27,863 homes sold in Arkansas through September, up 2.8 percent from last year.

Home prices are continuing to climb, rising 2.7 percent in September, Jebaraj noted.

"Home prices are rising nationally as well as [in Arkansas]," Jebaraj said.

In Northwest Arkansas, the housing market seems to be correcting somewhat, said John Carpenter, a senior vice president with Lindsey & Associates in Northwest Arkansas.

"But it is still very, very strong," Carpenter said. "And I think we're coming out of a market that was just pretty much on fire."

A lot of new construction is going under contract, Carpenter said.

"I've seen more new construction right now," Carpenter said. "People are buying homes not even out of the ground yet."

There is a lot of speculative home building in Northwest Arkansas, he said. But many of those homes are being sold before completion.

Riggins Construction and Development is building in the Hampton, Riverwalk and Stonebridge subdivisions in Fayetteville, Carpenter said.

And every home that contractor Riverwood Homes is building is under contract, Carpenter said.

Most of the new houses the two contractors are building range in price from about $195,000 to $260,000, Carpenter said.

Interest rates for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage are between the high 4 percent to low 5 percent range, said Scott McElmurry, chief executive officer of Bank of Little Rock Mortgage, one of the larger mortgage lenders in the state.

The rate on a 15-year conventional mortgage is about 4.5 percent, McElmurry said.

Business on 11/06/2018

Print Headline: State home sales sink in September

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