Arkansas home sales were up 53 percent in November and 12 percent in December, according to reports released Thursday by the Arkansas Realtors Association.
Both reports show home prices rebounding in the last two months of 2009 when compared to lackluster sales that came in November and December 2008, immediately after the a financial crisis among major banks rocked Wall Street in October.
The crisis, originating in the mortgage and credit markets, plunged both sectors into near-inactivity as lending ground to a halt and financial firms came to grip with staggering losses. But a major incentive package for new home buyers, launched by Congress last summer, caused housing activity to spike.
In all, Arkansas home sales in 2009 ended down about 1 percent compared with 2008.
“First of all (and let’s just admit it), we’re comparing sales against months in 2008 that were simply dreadful,” Ethan Nobles, a spokesman for the Arkansas Realtors Association, said on the group’s blog about Thursday’s reports.
“That’s not to say that we don’t like seeing the gains — we are, hopefully, heading in the right direction in terms of both prices and sales. Also, we do like seeing that sales in 2009 finished up on par with those in 2008 — they were down slightly and that’s a good sign seeing how we’ve released reports since 2006 where sales were down substantially compared to previous years.”
Nobles also noted that, in addition to the homebuyers incentive, which Congress extended into spring, the market also got help in 2009 from interest rates around 5 percent or better for 30-year, fixed interest mortgages.
“Going forward this year, hopefully markets will continue the expansion they’ve been going through since October,” he said. “We are keeping a close eye on what happens at the end of April when the tax credits expire and the end of the first quarter if the Fed stops buying up mortgage backed securities.”
Up Against Low Numbers
For December, Saline County home sales rose 27 percent. Sebastian and Benton County sales were up 13 percent. Washington County was up 12 percent. Pulaski County sales rose 5 percent.
In December 2009, 123 homes sold in Saline County, versus 97 in December 2008, the report said.
November 2009 numbers, up against drammatically low numbers in November 2008, logged substantial gains. Benton County sales were up 91 percent, following by Washington County’s 82 percent gain.
In November 2009, 353 homes sold in Benton County, versus 185 in November 2008, according to the report.