High Country Association of REALTORS News

Real estate sales for year should surpass 2017

The High Country real estate market is on pace to end the year as one of the most active in recent memory, according to the latest monthly sales figures from the High Country Association of Realtors.

Through November, local Realtors sold almost as many homes in 2018 than they did in all of 2017. The activity seemed immune to interest rate trends, which after weeks of increases reversed going into the final month of the year.

As of mid-December, the average 30-year fixed rate was at its lowest level in three months. Buyers in November took advantage of some of that decline.

Local Realtors sold 209 homes worth $58.48 million that month, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It was the busiest November in more than a decade, eclipsing the 196 homes sold in November of last year.

To put the activity in historical perspective, more homes were sold in November of this year than in November 2011 and 2012 combined (203). In the five years since then, Realtors have sold an average of 156 homes in November.

The average sold price last month was $279,815. That’s just above the average sale price for the year, $277,587.

The average sold price for all of 2017 was $260,321.

For the year, local Realtors have sold 2,161 homes worth $599.86 million. That’s a 9 percent increase in sales compared to this time last year (1,983), and a 16 percent increase in value ($516.22 million). According to preliminary numbers for December, sales for the year should easily surpass 2017.

The local inventory level reflects the activity. As of December 16 there were 1,669 listings active within the MLS, which encompasses Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

The High Country market has been an outlier compared to national sales trends. According to the National Association of Realtors, sales for existing homes through October were down 5.1 percent from a year ago. Pending home sales were down 6.7 percent.

During much of the year interest rates have slowly tracked upward, with the 30-year average rate peaking in mid-November at 4.94 percent. Since then rates have steadily declined.

The average 30-year fixed rate dropped to 4.63 percent December 13, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. It was the lowest average rate reported since mid-September.

The average 15-year rate was 4.07 percent.

“Mortgage rates have either fallen or remained flat for five consecutive weeks and purchase applicants are responding with an uptick in demand given these lower rates,” said Freddie Mac in a release. “While the housing market softened in response to higher rates through most of this year, the combination of a low unemployment and recent downdraft in rates should support home sales heading into the early winter months.”

A year ago the average 30-year fixed rate was 3.93 percent.