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Home makers.

Lower Interest Rates Raise Expectations Of State's Builders

Lower interest rates are encouraging home builders across Arkansas.

New home sales are expected to increase, according to Gary Brandon, president of Gary Brandon Enterprises Inc. at Springdale.

Brandon's firm expects to sell 60 houses this year.

"We're good until the election," Brandon says. "Who knows after that?"

In central Arkansas, lower interest rates are raising expectations at Cornerstone Development Co. in Benton.

"We closed 87 homes last year," says Lou Barsotti, Cornerstone's director of marketing. "We're projecting 160 or 170 for 1992. We already sold 13 in January."

In Jonesboro, the number of people visiting the model home built by Kent Arnold Homes tripled in December as interest rates fell. The company began work on 32 homes in 1991. It already has begun construction on 16 homes this year.

Most builders are dealing with buyers who already have financing. Builders say they have problems obtaining interim financing for "spec" homes.

All's Fairfield

Fairfield Communities Inc. of Little Rock did not report any 1991 building starts in Arkansas, although it is the state's largest home builder.

In 1990, Fairfield filed Arkansas' largest bankruptcy, listing debts of more than $300 million. Despite that, the company began work on 247 houses in 1991 in Tennessee, North Carolina, Arizona and Florida. Most of the buyers were purchasing retirement homes.

Cooper Communities Inc., based at Bella Vista, is the state's second-largest home builder. Last year, Cooper had 189 housing starts in five retirement communities. Three of the five communities are in Arkansas.

Cooper began 1991 with an excess of unsold homes. It thus concentrated on selling existing homes rather than starting new ones. The company sold 282 properties in 1991 with a total value of about $27.8 million.

Officials at ERC Properties Inc. of Fort Smith declined to say how many housing starts the company had in 1991. ERC Properties had 31 housing starts in Little Rock in 1990. Company officials say they plan to discontinue single-family residential construction, concentrating instead on apartment building.

More Office Supplies

Add Burris Inc. of Russellville to the list of the state's largest office products dealers published Feb. 3 in Arkansas Business. The company is managed by Tim Hale. The 26-employee firm includes an outside sales staff of six people.

Also in the Feb. 3 issue, it was reported that sales volume increased by one-third for Today's Office Inc. of Little Rock after Larry Walker and Marvin Moles took over the company.

Walker says it actually should have been reported that "revenues were then one-third of what they are now."
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Title Annotation:survey of construction industry
Author:Gibson, Carolyn
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 17, 1992
Previous Article:Motoring forward.
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