High Country Association of REALTORS News

Realtor sales up 8 percent to start 2019

Regional home sales for the first two months of the year have been the busiest in a decade, according to the latest monthly report from the High Country Association of Realtors.

Home sales are up 8 percent compared to the start of last year, and up 29 percent compared to the start of 2017.

Meanwhile interest rates continued a slow decline through February, and remain below their levels a year ago.

In the first two months of the year, area Realtors sold 287 homes worth $90 million, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. It records all Realtor activity in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Watauga County was the center of activity, with 144 homes worth $47 million sold. There were 52 homes worth $12.5 million sold in Ashe County, and 41 homes worth $16.2 million sold in Avery County. There were 19 homes worth $4 million sold within Alleghany.

In the first two months of last year, there were 266 total homes sold in the four-county area.

More than half of the most recent activity occurred in February when Realtors sold 146 homes worth $51.7 million. Last year there were 127 homes sold that month.

The average sold price in February was impacted by the sale of three listings for more than $2 million. There were only five such transactions in all of 2018. The high-dollar sales pushed the average sold price for February to $353,211. That’s the highest average for any month since December 2007 ($365,601).

Inventory in the four-county area was about 1,370 at the start of March.

Mortgage rates remain attractive to buyers, and are slightly lower than they were a year ago. The latest average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.41 percent, as reported by loan giant Freddie Mac March 7. A year ago it was 4.46 percent.

The average 15-year fixed rate is 3.83 percent, also down from this time last year (3.94 percent).

“In late 2018, mortgage rates rose over a full percentage point from the prior year, which was one of the main reasons that weakness in home sales continued into early 2019,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, the impact of recent lower rates and a strong labor market has led to a rise in purchase mortgage demand as we start the spring homebuying season.”