Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Monday, December 22, 2008

Demand Down, Rent Prices Down, New Buildings Going Up in Fayetteville

Construction projects underway in Fayetteville, Arkansas, will add nearly 1500 rental units in the near future. That’s a rather astonishing number for a city the size of Fayetteville.

Demand for apartments in NW Arkansas has already softened and that creates pressure to lower prices. The vacancy rate is just under 10% in Fayetteville. Rogers and Springdale have vacancy rates of 10%-15%, depending on the size of the apartment.

And the new units haven’t even come on board yet.

Consumers are understandably happy when prices drop but property owners have a tough time holding their heads above water when vacancy rates increase. Added pressure is coming from homeowners who decide to rent rather than sell their homes while they wait for the market to rebound.

So, at first glance, the situation seems contradictory. But, we need to remember several factors affecting NW Arkansas in general and Fayetteville in particular.

While most of the country is suffering through a recession, NW Arkansas continues to see new people move here. Job growth is positive here. As new people arrive and go to work, they rent apartments and buy homes. Gradually (though slower than in recent years) the excess inventory of homes is shrinking.

The other thing to remember is Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas with its thousands and thousands of students and faculty, all of whom need places to live. I haven’t seen any recent studies of the effect of “trickle down economics” from the university’s presence but believe me when I say it is huge by anyone’s standards.

Nevertheless, for potential investors, I don’t recommend purchasing for the University market right now. The conventional wisdom says that rental properties in university towns are a good investment.

But in addition to all of the new apartments being built, there is also another factor to consider. The U of A just built 2 new dormitories in the past few years, which are absorbing a lot of upper classmen who might normally want to live off campus. The result is that many of the normal rentals near the University stand vacant.

On the other hand, for parents who want to purchase a condo or other unit for their student son or daughter to live in for the next few years, it’s a great time to purchase. Prices are down and there are a lot of properties to choose from. By the time you want to sell, the situation will have probably changed.

For other towns in NW Arkansas, there is more of a "normal" rental market, geared toward families, young professionals, and others. In that segment of the market for investors, there are some phenomenal deals, especially on foreclosed multi-family dwellings.

Of course, I don’t have my crystal ball handy, but keep in mind that real estate is cyclical. It IS a great time to buy….

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Real Estate Trends Report

There’s a very smart guy out there named Stefan Swanepoel who writes something called the Real Estate Trends Report each year. Recently he posted on Active Rain (a social networking site for realtors) what he felt were the 10 most important events that affected real estate during 2008. He gave me and others permission to reproduce these as long as we credit him and the 2009 Swanepoel Real Estate Trends Report. For more information on how to obtain the full report, click on the following link: www.retrends.com

In any case, he feels that the top 10 events that affected real estate during 2008 were:

1. The Bailout: September 17th

Depending upon how effectively the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act's $700 billion is going to be allocated and managed it may prove to be the beginning of the turning point in the current economic recession.

2. The Presidential Election

In one of the most competitive, contentious, divisive and yet historic political campaigns the country responded with the largest voter turnout in history to remove the incumbent president and elect an African American, Barak Obama as president. But he takes office at a difficult time for the US economy and has some serious challenges ahead.

3. In Memory Of: Countrywide, IndyMac, WAMU, Wachovia And Others

Barely one year ago in 2007 these companies were not only household names but were considered financial giants. In one short year they have become a factoid of history.

4. Facing Foreclosure Frenzy

As a direct fallout of the subprime collapse, the foreclosure rate in the U.S. hit staggering levels in 2008. At the opening of the third quarter foreclosures were up 25% over the previous October with a reported one in every 452 of the country's homes in foreclosure. RealtyTrac reported last October that there was a sharp decline in foreclosure filings but it still estimated that by the end of 2008 there would be more than one million REOs on the books.

5. Home Prices Spiral Downward

The recession devastated many real estate markets across the country with the worst-performing towns and cities in places like central California, Miami and Las Vegas posting declines of 40% in 2008. The stranglehold on financing continued to drive home prices in many other places back to 2000 - 2002 levels, with predictions of continued declines in 2009 as unemployment reaches record highs and the financial meltdown spills over to other industries.

6. NAR - DOJ Settlement

Finally the long and protracted 2½ year legal battle between NAR and the Department of Justice (DOJ) was put to rest as Judge Kennelly issued his final judgment in November. In the end, NAR's longstanding Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy was validated as NAR was deemed to have not admitted any liability or wrongdoing and no payments were made in conjunction with the settlement. In addition, NAR has been cleared to reinstate an updated version of its Virtual Office Website (VOW) and the MLS has been preserved and strengthened in the process. Now it's back to business.

7. Brokers Go Bust

Changing names, merging, consolidating, filing bankruptcy and closing branches was on the order of the day throughout 2008 as literally thousands of real estate brokerages companies went out of business during 2008. This included many independents as well as franchises from just about every major brand including Century 21, EXIT and RE/MAX. Also filling for bankruptcy is national franchise Help-U-Sell and Web 2.0 newcomers such as Igglo. 2009 may see even more brokers closing up shop than 2008.

8. Keeping It Short

Founded in 2006, Twitter moved into the mainstream this year as the next evolution in the social networking and micro-blogging environment. By using short text-based posts (affectionately named "tweets"), staying in touch has been given a whole new meaning.

9. ActiveRain Explodes Past 100,000 Members

As we discussed in last year's report (Trend #1 - Two Worlds; One Industry) ActiveRain has moved to the head of the social networking line in the real estate industry. With as many as 35,000 users logged on at the same time, no one else has even come close to reaching that many Realtors® at one time. It goes without saying that ActiveRain has proven that social networking has made a home in real estate.

10. NAR Celebrates 100 Years

In May 1908, 120 men gathered in Chicago with the goal to "unite the real estate men of America." Today the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is America's largest trade association representing more than 1.2 million members. For 100 years, NAR and its members have established homeownership as a cornerstone of the American Dream and advocated private property rights as one of the fundamental principles that unite us as Americans. 2008 marked NAR's centennial birthday.

How many of these events impacted you or were/are you aware of? This is the question Swanepoel asks. For realtors, all should be able to answer this question. For the general public, probably most people were unaware of a number of these items.

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