2014 was a great year to buy into the High Country real estate market. Interest rates were low, inventory was strong, and prices attracted attention.
For the fourth consecutive year, Realtor®-assisted home sales increased in the three-county area. The 1,363 homes sold were a 4.5 percent increase over 2013, and 7.7 percent better than 2012.
It was also the most listings sold in a year since 2008, when 1,291 transactions were recorded by the High Country Multiple Listings Service, which tracks Realtor® transactions in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.
The activity was driven by long-standing buyers’ market conditions. The median sold price for the year – the midpoint at which all homes sold, with half selling for more and half selling for less – was $188,500, the lowest such price in at least eight years, and the third straight year it’s declined.
The median sold price was down just under a percent from 2013 ($189,500), and down 5.3 percent from 2012 ($199,000).
To further define the state of the local market today, look to 2011. In that year Realtors® sold 1,019 homes for a median price of $212,000. Fast forward to 2014, and sales have increased 34 percent while the median sale price has fallen 11 percent.
Total value for homes sold in 2014 was $320.55 million, down $13 million from 2013.
As the calendar year ended interest rates remained low and inventory was steady. There were 2,244 listings active in the MLS as of January 10.
High Country Association of Realtors® President Pam Vines is encouraging first time home buyers to take note of the lower median price of homes in the High Country as well as the historically low mortgage interest rates.
“This may be the right time to start looking for that first home,” she said.
In December local Realtors® sold 106 homes for $24.76 million. The median price was $190,000. It was the busiest December since 2012, when 109 homes sold for $26.01 million. The median price then was $200,250.
The year-end READReport, which tracks all real estate sells in the three-county area, also recorded an increase in sales and decrease in prices. There were 2,954 transactions worth $532.89 million in 2014. There were 2,918 such sales the year prior, for $531.27 million.
Interest rates continue to defy expectations. As of January 8, 2015 the average rate for a 30-year mortgage was 3.73 percent, its lowest mark since May 2013, according to Freddie Mac. The average for a 15-year mortgage was 3.05 percent.
A year ago, most analysts were predicting mortgage rates would surpass 5 percent in 2014. Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors®, expects those rates to finally begin to rise in 2015. He also foresees enough pent-up demand that existing home sales nationally should increase around seven percent this year.