The latest housing market report from the Arkansas Realtors Association shows the impact of the first-time home buyer tax credit.
Sales statewide were up 24.1 percent in October, with the top five markets up 31 percent. Benton County led the surge with 334 homes sold, compared with 246 for October 2008 — a 35.8 percent increase. Saline County sales were up 33.3 percent and Pulaski County saw sales shoot up 30.7 percent.
“In terms of month-to-month gains in sales, this is the best report we’ve seen since the ‘boom days’ of 2005,” the release from the Realtors said.
Year-to-date, homes sales are still down 5.6 percent statewide, but Benton and Washington counties, where the real estate market has been hit hardest, are actually up slightly for the year. Benton County shows a 1.2 percent gain and Washington County is up 3.2 percent for the year so far. Pulaski County home sales for the first 10 months are down 5.6 percent.
Statewide, home prices are off 3 percent for October, compared with October 2008, and for the year to date, prices are down 4.1 percent.
The first-time home buyer tax credit clearly influenced the market in October as people were rushing to get a home under contract and close on it by the Nov. 30 deadline, the release said.
That deadline has been extended and expanded so that both qualifying first-time home buyers and existing homeowners who get a primary residence under contact by April 30 can receive a tax break.
Realtors also credit low mortgage interest rates for the increase in sales. The average, national rate on a 30-year, fixed-interest mortgage is currently 4.7 percent and rates remained below 5 percent throughout October. Buyers certainly took notice of those low rates and purchased homes accordingly.
Buyers also noticed the downward pressure on home prices, the release said.