Realtors' report shows residential sales rising in county

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

LITTLE ROCK -- While residential sales in Carroll County were almost flat between 2012 and 2013, sales are doing a lot better this year in the county and statewide, according to figures from the Arkansas Realtors Association and local agents.

The association publishes a monthly report, compiled from figures supplied by those agencies that take part in the multi-listing service.

The July report from the association showed that year-to-date, 178 units had been sold in Carroll County, compared with 127 at the same time last year -- a 40 percent positive change. In all of 2013, 246 residential units were sold in Carroll County, compared with 242 in 2012.

The total value of new and existing units sold in 2013 was $35.3 million, compared with $34.9 million in 2012, an increase of 1.2 percent. Average price of a home in 2013 went down slightly, to $143,551, compared with $144,189 in 2012. This year, the average price is $142,563 as of July.

Overall valuation year-to-date through July of this year was $25.4 million, compared with $17.7 million at this point last year, a 43.27 percent increase, giving Carroll County the fifth-highest valuation increase in the state.

"I can't tell you a single Realtor I've talked to that hasn't been crazy [with sales]," said Janice McKelvey, vice president of the Eureka Springs Carroll County Board of Realtors and agent with Century 21 Woodland Real Estate. "They always have something going on, multiple files. I have six right now. This is unusual for fall. For the very first time in a long time, we have one of the highest market shares in Carroll County."

She said all but one of her office's 12 agents has had at least 10 sales already, and their annual goal is 12.

"Most of us in the office had already reached that goal by the time July hit," McKelvey said. "We're all dreading the taxes!"

But she's not really complaining.

"Things have been really good," she said. "I can't even tell you for what reason. Maybe people are getting comfortable with the economy and diving in, but coming up on an election, you wouldn't think that would be true. We don't know why, but we'll take it!"

As for the slight increase in average home prices, McKelvey said agents no longer have a lot of lower-priced properties like they had in 2012 and 2013.

"We don't have the foreclosures we had then. It's like we've sold the inexpensive properties, so people have a choice in the higher markets. People are wishing they had bought last year when it was lower."

As for land sales, she said those are down in Berryville and Green Forest, but in Eureka Springs and around the lake, they are increasing, although they were stagnant for a while.

"A lot of people buy land with the idea they're going to retire in the future and may hang onto it for a while," McKelvey said. "Land out at the lake is astronomical value; everyone wants to be lake-front, which is really high. Lake-view takes it down a little bit. It just depends on what they're looking for."

She noted that home sales have increased in Holiday Island, but vacant lots have not.

"I bet if I type in lots for sale in Holiday Island, I can pull up a hundred of them that are under $25,000; there are a lot," she said.

This have been hundreds of turned-back lots and foreclosures over the last couple years, many of which have gone to the state for nonpayment of taxes and assessments.

"People are trying to sell those lots that they were going to retire and build on," McKelvey said. "People get tired of paying assessments on them. We are over-saturated with Holiday Island lots. People are saying, 'We can buy a lot and build or we can spend $50,000 and get a house already done.' "

She said people are looking for fixer-uppers if they can get them for a reasonable price, put a little work into them and make them their own.

"That's a slam-dunk every time. People are coming from the east and west coasts, selling high where they were and buying low here. The lower cost of living drives a lot of people to us."

Carroll County also reflects what's going on in the rest of the state. The ARA said the number of homes sold statewide in July increased by more than 10 percent, but the average price decreased by slightly more than 2 percent in July. Valuations, however, increased by more than 8 percent last year.

As for Carroll County, McKelvey said, "We need to keep it where it's at and keep increasing. That will make us all very happy."

To see the Arkansas housing reports, visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com and click on the Publications tab.

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