Sneak Peek at February 2011 Housing Numbers

The Arkansas REALTORS Association will release complete statistics for 43 counties in Arkansas on Friday, April 1.  However, here is a sneak peek in to some of the Central Arkansas numbers for February 2011. 

New and Existing Residential Units Sold, February 2011      
       
       
County Units Feb ’11 Units Feb ’10 % Change
Clay  2 3 -33.33%
Cleburne  14 16 -12.50%
Conway  3 7 -57.14%
Faulkner  94 63 49.21%
Grant  10 5 100.00%
Greene  16 27 -40.74%
Hot Spring  4 5 -20.00%
Izard  3 2 50.00%
Jefferson  19 24 -20.83%
Lonoke  52 56 -7.14%
Perry  3 2 50.00%
Polk  9 10 -10.00%
Pulaski  215 263 -18.25%
Saline  74 93 -20.43%
Sharp  3 3 0.00%
Van Buren  6 9 -33.33%
White  40 45 -11.11%
Totals 567 633 -10.43%
       
       
Average Prices of Units Sold, February 2011      
County Feb ’11 Feb ’10 % Change
Clay  $192,500 $37,490 413.47%
Cleburne  $127,660 $188,237 -32.18%
Conway  $122,365 $101,771 20.24%
Faulkner  $139,030 $156,592 -11.22%
Grant  $126,580 $143,040 -11.51%
Greene  $102,687 $100,058 2.63%
Hot Spring  $60,975 $103,580 -41.13%
Izard  $30,666 $95,750 -67.97%
Jefferson  $101,031 $80,996 24.74%
Perry  $76,333 $75,000 1.78%
Polk  $107,822 $130,760 -17.54%
Pulaski  $169,489 $164,418 3.08%
Saline  $162,239 $153,957 5.38%
Sharp  $178,000 $46,125 285.91%
Van Buren  $88,750 $73,833 20.20%
White  $131,320 $125,826 4.37%
Average $136,146 $134,683 1.09%
DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS DEEMED RELIABLE, BUT NOT GUARANTEED, AND                
IS PROVIDED EXCLUSIVELY FOR CONSUMER’S PERSONAL, NON-COMMERCIAL USE AND                
MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN TO IDENTIFY PROSPECTIVE                
PROPERTIES CONSUMERS MAY BE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING. UNDER NO                
CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN BE RELIED UPON BY                
ANY PERSON IN MAKING A PURCHASE FebISION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO,                
INFORMATION PRECEDED WITH THE WORD OR ABBREVIATION DENOTING APPROXIMATE.                
CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN BE RELIED UPON BY                
ANY PERSON IN MAKING A PURCHASE FebISION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO,                
INFORMATION PRECEDED WITH THE WORD OR ABBREVIATION DENOTING APPROXIMATE.                

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House To House: Americans more confident about the stability of home prices

The Arkansas REALTORS® Association released its monthly housing report last week showing that while home prices in Arkansas are still sluggish, January was a solid month for home sales.  In January Arkansas home sales saw a 13 percent increase in the number of Arkansas homes sold as compared with the same period last year – a time when the market was seeing a boost from the First-Time Homebuyer’s Tax Credit.  The report also showed that the average price of an Arkansas home increased by more than 2.5 percent in January to $143,030.

Arkansas REALTORS® Association President Andy Meyers said that thenumbers are reflective of growing consumer confidence.  “Sales occurring in January are reflective of purchase decisions being made during the holiday season and, when considered without the incentive of the home buyer tax credits, indicates that Arkansas consumers are becoming confident again.”

According to a recent national housing survey by Fannie Mae, Meyers is absolutely right.  The Fannie Mae Fourth Quarter National Housing Survey, conducted between October 2010 and December 2010, polled homeowners and renters to assess their confidence in homeownership as an investment, the current state of their household finances, views on the U.S. housing finance system, and overall confidence in the economy.

According to the survey, Americans are more confident about the stability of home prices than they were at the beginning of 2010, even though they lack confidence in the strength of the economy:

  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents believe housing prices will hold steady or increase over the next twelve months, up from 73 percent in January 2010;
  • But almost two-thirds still believe the economy is on the wrong track, virtually unchanged (61%) from the beginning of last year.

“Over the course of the last year, we gained deeper insights into Americans’ confidence in the strength of the housing market and the economic recovery,” said Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist of Fannie Mae. “More Americans believe that housing prices will remain stable over the next year. We also are seeing encouraging signs in the positive attitudes toward homeownership among younger Americans, despite the severe impact of the housing crisis on Generation Y. But most respondents to our survey continue to lack confidence in the strength of the economic recovery, and they are less optimistic about their ability to buy a home in the years ahead. This sense of uncertainty is weighing on the housing recovery today and reshaping expectations for housing for the future.”

Other Survey Highlights

Younger Americans, Hispanics, and African-Americans are generally more positive about owning a home than the general population. Fifty-nine percent of Generation Y (ages 18-34) believes buying a home has a lot of potential as an investment, even though this age group suffered the steepest decline in homeownership during the housing crisis — from nearly forty-four percent when home prices peaked to under forty percent in 2009.

More than one-third of Hispanics (34%) and African Americans (35%) say they will buy a home in the next three years, compared to only one in four (23%) of all other Americans.

The percentage of Americans who believe that buying a home is a safe investment declined to 64 percent over the course of the year, from 70 percent in January 2010. This is down sharply from a similar survey conducted in December 2003, when 83 percent of the general population thought buying a home was a safe investment.

During 2010, survey respondents increasingly expressed a strong belief that it will be harder for future generations to obtain a mortgage. Three-quarters of those surveyed (74%) believe it will be harder to get a mortgage in the future, up from just over two-thirds at the beginning of 2010.

One out of three delinquent borrowers continues to say they have considered defaulting on their mortgage. However, that number fell from 39 percent at the beginning of the year to 31 percent in the fourth quarter. The number of delinquent borrowers who say they have seriously considered defaulting also has declined, from 25 percent in January 2010 to 19 percent.

For more detailed findings from the survey, visit http://www.fanniemae.com/media/survey/index.jhtml.  To subscribe to the Arkansas REALTORS® Association’s Monthly Housing Reports readers can email me at Questions@ArkansasRealtors.com.

 House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant, APR and distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association.

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House to House: No Matter What the Emergency, Preparedness Is Key

The old joke, “If you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, just wait a day” seems more like the truth the older I get.  I believe it was just two weeks ago that my family and I were celebrating “Sledfest” at our house.  Last night as I watched the Oscars I was being warned of potential tornadoes in my area and this morning when I woke up all of America seemed to be talking about earthquakes in Arkansas.  At t his rate, I expect a blizzard to envelope us next week..

No matter what the severe weather outlook, it is important for Arkansans to have a plan in place in case of an emergency.  According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this means means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days.

 The following is a recommended list of items to include in a basic emergency supply kit:

 – Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

– Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

– Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

– Flashlight and extra batteries

– First aid kit

– Whistle to signal for help

– Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

– Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

– Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

– Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

– Local maps

– Cell phone with chargers

 Additional items to consider adding to an emergency supply kit include:

 – Prescription medications and glasses

– Infant formula and diapers

– Pet food and extra water for your pet

– Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

– Cash or traveler’s checks and change

– Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from http://www.ready.gov

– Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.

– Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

– Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

– Fire Extinguisher

– Matches in a waterproof container

– Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

– Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels

– Paper and pencil

– Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Through its Ready Campaign, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security educates and empowers Americans to take some simple steps to prepare for and respond to potential emergencies, including natural disasters. For more information on how your family can develop a family emergency plan, visit www.Ready.gov

 House to House written by Amy Glover Bryant, Director of Communications, and is distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors® Association.

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AG Dustin McDaniel Identifies Top Consumer Complaints

In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today the 10 most common complaints fielded by his office’s Consumer Protection Division last year.

McDaniel’s Consumer Protection Division handled more than 10,000 total complaints from concerned Arkansas consumers in 2010. Atop the list were grievances about automobile transactions, followed by complaints regarding debt collection agencies.

“Our office deals every day with a wide variety of calls and complaints about disputes involving business practices, or sometimes, just out-and-out scams,” McDaniel said. “It’s important to me that consumers know we are here to help them navigate through any potential pitfalls in their consumer transactions. We will also investigate any improper activity.”

The Top 10 most common consumer complaints last year, by category, were:

Automobiles

Debt collection services

Check-cashing and payday-lending services

Cable TV and satellite services

Home and business telephone services

Home improvement, repair and construction

Cellular phone services

Mortgages Credit and credit repair services

Internet services and Internet auction sites

McDaniel said the majority of automobile dealers are reputable, but automobile-transaction complaints are perennially the most common reported to the Consumer Protection Division. Such complaints often involve “yo-yo” sales practices, where a consumer drives home a car to find out at a later date the actual details of the sale – usually the tactic involves a higher financing cost for the car than the cost originally quoted.

Other automobile complaints involve pressure to buy high-priced add-on services like gap insurance, credit-life and extended warranties; and misrepresentations about the condition of the automobile, such as its salvage history.

Debt collectors often raise the ire of consumers through harassing tactics, attempts to collect old, time-barred debt, or by seeking add-on fees. Sometimes, the debt collectors misidentify the party from whom they are seeking money.

“These types of complaints are the same issues we’ve seen for years and will continue to see across the country,” McDaniel said. “The best way to avoid these common problems is for consumers to be well-informed and know their rights.”

To that end, Arkansans may call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (501) 682-2341 or (800) 482-8982; or visit the Attorney General’s website, www.arkansasag.gov.

National Consumer Protection Week is observed each year in an effort to promote awareness of consumer rights and help consumers make better-informed decisions. For more information about the observance, visit http://www.ncpw.gov. Tuesday, McDaniel will announce the Top 5 scams investigated by his office in 2010.

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Preview of January 2011 Housing Numbers

The Arkansas REALTORS Association will release complete stats for 43 counties in Arkansas on Monday.  However, here is a sneak peak in to some of the Central Arkansas numbers for January 2011.  You will note that the ARA is now providing numbers for the years 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008 where available.

New and Existing Residential Units Sold, January 2011          
           
           
County Units Jan ’11 Units Jan ’10 % Change Units Jan ’09 Units  Jan ’08
Clay  1 2 400.00% 0 7
Cleburne  21 13 61.54% 22 19
Conway  9 3 200.00% 11 11
Faulkner  47 49 -4.08% 65 76
Grant  2 6 -66.67% 6 9
Greene  18 9 100.00% 6 22
Hot Spring  5 4 25.00% 7 11
Izard  0 0 n/a 0 4
Jefferson  15 27 -44.44% 22 16
Lonoke  45 37 21.62% 50 65
Perry  2 0 n/a 3 1
Polk  16 15 6.67% 18 6
Pulaski  187 182 2.75% 208 261
Saline  73 65 12.31% 64 85
Sharp  2 4 -50.00% 1 3
Van Buren  6 7 -14.29% 3 8
White  32 35 -8.57% 32 36
Totals 481 458 5.02% 518 640
           
           
Average Prices of Units Sold, January 2011          
County Jan ’11 Jan ’10 % Change Jan ’09 Jan ’08
Clay  $37,500 $46,000 $0 $32,114
Cleburne  $100,950 $167,250 -39.64% $151,204 $164,565
Conway  $98,327 $83,667 17.52% $123,731 $61,642
Faulkner  $147,880 $163,081 -9.32% $128,107 $143,895
Grant  $80,000 $109,166 -26.72% $80,366 $119,739
Greene  $96,042 $97,844 -1.84% $55,666 $69,927
Hot Spring  $87,200 $139,375 -37.43% $68,142 $119,772
Izard  $0 $0 n/a $0 $57,187
Jefferson  $95,715 $92,987 2.93% $85,745 $130,543
Perry  $29,350 $0 n/a $125,000 $36,000
Polk  $94,853 $94,860 -0.01% $103,705 $210,370
Pulaski  $187,110 $178,877 4.60% $155,623 $168,183
Saline  $152,546 $170,481 -10.52% $157,940 $165,490
Sharp  $178,000 $46,125 285.91% $25,250 $45,333
Van Buren  $88,000 $104,657 -15.92% $56,000 $71,177
White  $147,998 $126,209 17.26% $121,545 $105,207
Average $151,896 $154,153 -1.46% $137,309 $144,814

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS DEEMED RELIABLE, BUT NOT GUARANTEED, AND                
IS PROVIDED EXCLUSIVELY FOR CONSUMER’S PERSONAL, NON-COMMERCIAL USE AND                
MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN TO IDENTIFY PROSPECTIVE                
PROPERTIES CONSUMERS MAY BE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING. UNDER NO                
CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN BE RELIED UPON BY                
ANY PERSON IN MAKING A PURCHASE DECISION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO,                
INFORMATION PRECEDED WITH THE WORD OR ABBREVIATION DENOTING APPROXIMATE.                
CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN BE RELIED UPON BY                
ANY PERSON IN MAKING A PURCHASE DECISION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO,                
INFORMATION PRECEDED WITH THE WORD OR ABBREVIATION DENOTING APPROXIMATE.                
                 
Copyright 2011 Arkansas Realtors® Association.                

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House to House: Renting? Know Your Responsibilities

A friend’s recent experience in trying to rent a house he owned brought to mind the possible lack of information that some renters may have in regard to their responsibilities as renters who are paying for the right to enjoy someone else’s property.

No one wants to see someone evicted, but unfortunately, that action is sometimes the end result when renters do not live up to their responsibilities. The agreement between landlord and tenant will control the tenant’s responsibilities, so make sure that as a renter, you are clear on what is expected in regard to your individual situation.

To help landlords and tenants, the Arkansas Realtors Association; the law firm of Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull and Burrow PLLC; the Institute of Real Estate Management; and the Arkansas Real Estate Commission worked together to develop the Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook. The handbook was prepared to help both tenants and landlords understand their responsibilities, as well as rights. While a diligent attempt was been made to ensure that the information is accurate, no guarantee of accuracy is provided, and the handbook does not purport to cover all possible situations or problems. These materials are provided for educational purposes and should not be received as legal opinions for pending or future legal matters.

Here are a few common requirements of renters/tenants that the handbook brings to light:

• Pay all of your rent on time. If you think the landlord is being unfair, or the rented property is in poor condition, discuss these matters with your landlord. Most disputes between a landlord and a tenant can be resolved if the rent has been paid.

• Take “good care” of the property you are renting. It is, after all, the landlord’s property, and you are paying for the use of it. When you move out of the property, it must be in the same condition as it was when you moved in, except for normal wear and tear.

• Let your landlord know when you are going to be out of town or away for a period of time. If possible, let them know how to contact you. If they notice you are gone but haven’t been informed ahead of time, they may think you have abandoned the property.

• Comply with local board-of-health rules and the landlord’s rules and regulations for tenants.

• Keep the property clean.

• Inform the landlord, in writing, of needed repairs as soon as you discover that a repair is necessary.

• Be considerate of other tenants and neighbors. They have the same rights that you do.

• Abide by all the terms of your lease or rental agreement. For example, if the lease or rental agreement says “no pets,” then you may not have pets.

• Except as permitted by law, you should not increase the number of occupants specified in the lease or rental agreement without the written permission of the owner.

• Give the landlord written notice before you move out. Normally, you should provide the landlord notice a number of days prior to moving out which is equal to the cycle that you pay rent, unless more time (which the law requires to be reasonable) is specified in your lease or rental agreement. For example, if you pay rent once a month, then provide notice to your landlord of an intention to move one month prior to the date you are moving.

• Take all precautions that you deem necessary to ensure the safety of people and personal property in and around the property. Safety is not the responsibility of the landlord, and you should not expect the landlord to make repairs or take precautions to make rented property (or areas around rented property) safe. You may wish to consider insurance for all personal property you place on the property.

To print out a copy of the Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook, visit http://arkansasrealtors.net/images/landlordtenanthandbook.pdf  or contact the Arkansas Realtors Association at Questions@ArkansasRealtors.com.

House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant, APR and distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors Association.   For more information about the ARA, visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.

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House to House: What Do You Mean the Sellers Took it With Them?

 This week’s House to House column is written by special guest columnist Gary Isom, Executive Director Arkansas Real Estate Commission.  Gary can be reached at Gary.Isom@Arkansas.gov

The closing is over and the buyers just walked into their new house with excitement and anticipation. Then to their surprise, they discover that special item they thought was included in the sale is missing.

With technological advancements changing the way real estate is marketed, buyers to a transaction have often seen and reviewed much more information about a property than in years past. Maybe they saw an advertisement for the property or a copy of the MLS sheet. Whatever the source of information, the Arkansas Real Estate Commission is seeing more complaints filed about what was or wasn’t supposed to be included in the sale.

The investigative interview occasionally goes something like this. The buyer complainants say their agent told them that if the multiple listing service or an advertisement stated that a particular item was included in the sale, it must be included regardless of whether it’s stated in the sales contract. Consequently, when the complainant doesn’t get that specific item stated in the multiple listing service or advertisement, the complainant holds the listing agent and seller totally responsible, contending that their agent did nothing wrong by telling them the information did not need to be included in the sales contract or the addenda attached thereto. Remember, many sales contracts state something to the effect that the sales contract contains the entire understanding and agreement between Buyer and Seller.

It’s a common occurrence with complaints filed with the Real Estate Commission for the complaining party to fault the agent on the opposite side of the transaction as opposed to their own agent, whose responsibility it is to protect the complainant’s interest as they would their own. Parties to a transaction often know their agent well and don’t want to get them in trouble. It’s much easier to hold the other agent accountable. This still seems especially true with buyers. Buyers and many agents who represent buyers just have not made the leap over to accepting that an agent representing the buyer has the same level of commitment to the buyer as the listing agent does to their seller.

When regulation 10.10(a) states that “… a licensee, for the protection of the public and of all parties with whom the licensee deals, shall see that the exact agreement of the parties regarding real estate is in writing” it is generally referring to the sales contract and the addenda attached thereto. Whether the content of the multiple list service or any advertising is binding upon the parties or agents who supplied the information is for the courts to decide. However, if an agent to a transaction knows that their buyer client wants a specific item included as part of the sale, that agent and the buyers themselves should make sure that information is included in the sales contract or the addenda attached thereto so that it is documented that both parties agreed to it.

Especially in a market as we have now in which sellers are accepting less than listing price and buyers are requiring the sellers to make substantial concessions at the closing table, it’s not uncommon for the sellers to change their mind about leaving items they originally intended to let go with the property. When the buyer finds out after closing that the sellers took that coveted item with them, they are often going to file a complaint.

From the commission’s perspective, the buyer would have a stronger case against their own the agent because the buyer’s agent has the higher degree of responsibility to the buyer as a client than does the listing agent when the buyer is only a customer to the listing agent. Of course, when dual agency occurs where both sides of the transaction are in the same firm, both agents have a fiduciary obligation to both parties. In this situation, the Principal Broker and both agents licensed under him or her must look out for both party’s interest in somewhat of a limited capacity with regard to confidential information. However, items that do or do not convey with the property would not usually be considered confidential information so both agents and their Principal Broker would have an obligation to see that all agreements are reduced to writing.

Avoid disappoint or a complaint by writing it down and getting all parties to agree to it. Don’t depend upon separate advertising or listing information to be binding upon the parties to the transaction. ♦♦♦ House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors® Association.

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