High Country Association of REALTORS News

July home sales hit high for the year

Home buyers were busy in the High Country last month, with Realtor® sales the highest recorded so far this year.

Sales in the four-county area surpassed 200 for the first time since December. Mortgage rates remained stable, though well above where they were a year ago.

According to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, there were 205 homes worth $59.27 million sold in July by Realtors® in Alleghany, Ashe Avery and Watauga counties. The average sold price was $289,102.

Sales were up month-to-month by 22 percent (168 homes sold in June), but down a slight 1.4 percent year-to-year (208 sold in July 2017).

Historically, it was the second busiest July since 2005. In the previous 13 years, local Realtors® sold an average of 146 homes that month.

Sales for the year remain well above last year’s pace. Realtors® sold 1,196 homes worth $320.88 million through July. They sold 1,096 worth $272.33 million in that span last year.

The average sale price is also up, from $248,472 last year to $268,301 now.

Even with the sales activity local inventory remained unchanged month-to-month. There were 2,081 active listings within the MLS as of August 8. That was also the amount active as of July 13. 

There were just more than 2,400 active listings this time a year ago.

Mortgage rates remain high, but have stabilized since April. Loan giant Freddie Mac reported the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage, as of August 9, was 4.59 percent. The average 15-year rate was 4.05 percent.

A year ago the rates were 3.90 percent and 3.18 percent, respectively.

“Mortgage rates have mostly drifted sideways this summer,” said Freddie Mac in a press release. “This stability is much needed for home sales, which have crested because of the multi-year run up in prices, tight affordable inventory and this year’s higher rates.”

“Going forward, the strong economy will support the housing market, but with affordability pressures mounting, further spikes in mortgage rates will lead to continued softening in home price growth,” the release said.

Nationally, demand is strong but inventory is comparatively light, causing prices to rise.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), existing-home sales decreased for the third straight month in June. The ongoing supply and demand imbalance pushed June’s median sales price to a new all-time high.

“There continues to be a mismatch since the spring between the growing level of homebuyer demand in most of the country in relation to the actual pace of home sales, which are declining,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The root cause is without a doubt the severe housing shortage that is not releasing its grip on the nation’s housing market.

Meanwhile pending home sales -  comprised of signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops - rose 0.9 percent to 106.9 in June from 105.9 in May. Despite the increase, contract signings are still down 2.5 percent on an annual basis.