Skyline Researchers: Northwest Residential Market 'Stable'

Researchers who conduct northwest Arkansas' Skyline Report said the second quarter was much like the fourth quarter of 2009: "balanced."

"Overall, I'd say this was a quarter of stability," said Kathy Deck, lead researcher for the Skyline Report.

However, slow growth in the job market will continue to depress home prices, she said.

Deck is also executive director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas' Walton College of Business, and her statements accompanied the data release.

Arvest Bank Group Inc. commissions the CBER to gather data on residential, multi-family and commercial property in Northwest Arkansas for the report. The bank makes much of the data public.

"It's good to see the measured pace of new construction continue. Moving forward the future is a little uncertain. It will be important to keep our eyes on the supply of existing homes in the area," Deck said.

Todd White, senior vice president and loan production manager at Arvest Mortgage Co., said, "I'm pleased to see two consecutive quarters with reports showing a healthy market. That's definitely encouraging after the hard work and many quarters our region has worked to get to this point.

"It's evident that the homebuyer tax credit played a part in our home sales this last quarter. I'm hopeful we'll be able to sustain this balance in the months ahead."

According to the report, there were 394 building permits in Benton and Washington counties from March through May, up 31 percent from the same period a year prior. However, there has been no new construction for four consecutive quarters in 105 of the 376 active subdivisions in the two-county market.

There are about 33,200 lots approved, or preliminarily approved, which is a 146-month inventory through the current absorption rates.

The average sales price of homes in Benton County declined by 1.5 percent and by 4 percent in Washington County during the second quarter.

There were 226 homes in the "complete but not occupied" category, a sharp decline from 741 a year earlier.

On June 1, there were 5,567 homes listed in the northwest Arkansas multiple listing service, the report said, up nearly 10 percent from the first quarter.