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Bullish indicators.

Bullish Indicators

It's been three and a-half years since $1.5-billion FirstSouth collapsed in a spectacular fiscal ball of flame, signaling the beginning of the end of the state S&L lending explosion. That era of loose money artificially propelled the state's construction fever, its booming housing market and some Reaganesque-lifestyles by high-flying thrift executives.

Today, over a third of the state's thrifts are sunk deep under water and controlled by federal caretakers. Money is tight all over say real estate developers and late-night cash calls to limited partners send cold chills up investors' spines.

But some bright spots are already appearing on the S&L-influenced horizon and the hoped for turn around may yet be in sight.


* The glut of apartment complexes in central Arkansas is nearing an end as occupancy rates hit the 90 percent plus range and owners prepare to raise rents. Despite the "baby bust," Little Rock's urban economic growth will continue to pull renters to the area demanding new units and developers will soon begin building them.

* Overbuilt office space is still a bargain downtown, but business growth continues, existing supplies are being soaked up and, for those who can hang on, the end of the tunnel is appearing.

* Central Arkansas residential real estate sales were up 6 percent in the first quarter of 1990, over the same period in 1989. And up 21 percent from 1988. That's good news to those worried about the effect continued uncertainty surrounding the Little Rock schools has upon the housing market.

* State shopping center sales rose 9.3 percent in 1989 and central Arkansas retail shopping has never been better with the recent revamping of Park Plaza and University Mall. Plus, last year's addition of discount food giant MegaMarket has brought even keener competition to the area and resulting bargains for shoppers. shoppers.

It's not time for bell ringing yet, but watch the next six months. The beginning of the end is at hand.
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Title Annotation:real estate market in Arkansas
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jul 2, 1990
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