Real Estate Report: 2014 Realtor sales start at a six-year high

Realtors sales to start year, 2007-2014

BOONE – The start of the new year continues to be busy for local Realtors®, with home sales hitting a six-year high.

There were 163 Realtor®-assisted sales recorded in the first two months of 2014, an increase of 11 percent compared to 2013, and up 36 percent compared to 2012. That’s according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks all Realtor® transactions in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

To give the numbers perspective, from 2008 (the start of the Great Recession) to 2013, local Realtors® sold an average of 126 homes during the first two months of the year.  The highwater mark was set in 2008, when 183 homes sold. There were only 82 homes sold in 2010.

Local sales continue to be fueled by buyers’ market conditions. The median sold price so far this year is $171,000. That is 12 percent less than the first two months of 2013 ($195,000), and 25 percent less than the start of 2012 ($227,500).

January and February have historically been the slowest months for local Realtor® sales, primarily due to weather. The sales numbers so far suggest local Realtors® should continue seeing more buyers surveying the market.

“With the weather conditions being what they were the past few months, we are greatly encouraged by the uptick in the Real Estate Market,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors®. “Our Realtors® are working hard to assist those that want to buy or sell.”

Realtors® sold 83 homes for a combined $18.5 million in February, which is consistent with the 81 homes worth $19.46 million sold in January.  The median sold price increased 6 percent month to month, from $165,000 to $174,500.

There were 202 new homes added to the MLS in February. As of early March, there were 2,376 active listings in the High Country area.

Trends reported by the MLS are also seen in the READReport, which tracks all real estate transactions in the High Country, including commercial, lots and land. According to the READReport, there were 182 units sold for a combined $28.5 million last month. That’s an increase over sales recorded in February 2013, when 162 units were sold for $24.72 million.

Though many analysts have been predicting for months a spike in interest rates, they continue to remain at near historic lows. As of March 13, the rate on a 30-year loan was 4.37 percent, a slight increase from 4.28 percent the week prior. The average 15-year rate rose to 3.38 percent from 3.32 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

Those rates are lower than they were in December 2013 (30-year was 4.46 percent; 15-year was 3.48).

Nationally, Realtor®-assisted home sales dropped in January to the lowest level in a year-and-a-half, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The median existing-home price was $188,900, up 10.7 percent from January 2013.

“Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Some housing activity will be delayed until spring.”

The snowy view from on high in the High Country

viaduct covered in snow

The High Country of North Carolina is well known for its snow. There’s been plenty of it this season, with weather systems periodically blanketing the area in powder. That was especially true in February.

February was the snowiest month of the winter so far at Grandfather Mountain, which recorded more than 13 inches during the mid-month storms.

Staff at the Entrance Gate in Linville measured 10 inches of snow Feb. 13, coupled with another two inches on Feb. 15 and yet another inch the following day. Snow totals were similar at the Nature Museum halfway up the Mountain, where 13.6 inches of snow were recorded throughout the month.

The white stuff sets a tranquil scene, one generally enjoyed only at eye level. That recently changed.

During one snow event in February, a local business called Nelson Aerials let loose a camera-laden drone to show off winter weather from a perspective few have ever encountered. That includes scenes from the campus of Appalachian State and the Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct.

Real Estate Report: New year starts with continued sales growth

January 2014 sales graphic

The local real estate market started the new year much as it ended the old – home sales continued to increase as prices remained flat.

Realtor®-assisted home sales in January hit a six-year high for the month, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks Realtor® sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

The median sold price, meanwhile, was the lowest recorded for any month in almost five years.

There were 74 homes sold worth $18.5 million last month, the busiest January since the first month of 2008 when 93 homes sold worth $30.32 million. Sales for the month were up 16 percent compared to January 2013, and 35 percent compared to January 2012.

Prices continued to be held down. The median sold price for January was $173,500, a 20 percent decline from January 2013 ($220,000). It was also the lowest median sold price for any month since March 2009 ($164,000).

There were 214 new listings added during the month, the second fewest since the end of 2012. At the start of February more than 2,300 homes were on the market in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

In recent years January has become the traditional low watermark for the year’s Realtor® sales. The strong start to 2014 could indicate an especially busy year ahead.

“This is a great time to buy a home in the High Country,” said Sam Taylor, 2014 President of the High Country Association of Realtors®. “Continued low interest rates, along with a high inventory of homes in the local market, have us optimistic that 2014 is going to be an even better year than 2013.”

Local Realtors® are coming off their fourth straight year of growing sales.

They sold 1,299 homes in 2013, a 3 percent increase from 2012, and a 28 percent increase from 2011. In that same time span the annual median sold price declined 10 percent, from $212,000 in 2011 to $190,000 in 2013.

Nationally, existing-home sales were up 9.1 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). That was the strongest performance since 2006. The national median price for the year was $197,100, which was 11.5 percent above the 2012 median of $176,800.

“Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Mortgage rates remain steady. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.23 percent during the first week of February, down from 4.32 percent the week before, according to Freddie Mac. It was the fifth consecutive week rates declined.

Local Realtors® Supported More Than Dozen Local Agencies In 2013

More than $12,000 was distributed to more than a dozen area organizations in 2013 by the High Country Association of Realtors®, continuing a tradition of local philanthropy by the group. The High Country Association of Realtors® unites real estate professionals within Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties for the benefit of Realtors® and their clients.

Underscoring its motto that “All Real Estate is Local and So Are We,” the Association seeks to annually support various non-profits and community organizations in the three-county area.

Recipients of 2013 donations include:

  • Hospitality House of Boone
  • 6 scholarships to high school seniors
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Shriners
  • WE Care
  • Ashe Really Cares
  • Avery County YO program
  • American Red Cross• Christmas Child program through elementary schools
  • Hunger and Health Coalition
  • The Crossnore School
  • Humane Society (all three counties)
  • Sponsored Easter and Christmas at an assisted living facility

Real Estate Report: 2014 may be the last year to find ‘bargains’

All Realtor sold properties in 2013

Local real estate sales were up and prices were down in 2013, as buyers’ market conditions continued in the High Country area. That’s according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks all Realtor®-assisted home sales within Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Realtor® sales were up 2.6 percent compared to the year prior, and up 27 percent compared to 2011. Yet the median sold price dropped for the second consecutive year, down 10.4% from 2011, and stood at a seven-year low.

Interest in selling remained high. New listings increased by 13 percent year over year.

“We are elated that there are more buyers coming to our High Country region,” said Jerry Starnes, 2013 President of the High Country Association of Realtors. “The year 2014 may be the last year to find ‘bargains’ because of a two-year supply of unsold properties. It seems the market is seeking a balance as we end 2013.”

There were 1,294 Realtor®-assisted home sales in 2013, the busiest year for the region since 2007. The properties sold for $332.82 million, the highest amount since 2008. October was the strongest month, with the 147 homes sold a six-year high.

The median sold price for the year was $190,000 (Half of all homes sold were above that price, with the other half below). In 2012 the median sold price was $199,900. It had been $200,000 or greater every year prior since at least 2005.

Sellers were undaunted. There were 3,952 new listings with Realtors® during the year, the most since at least 2005.

Total Realtor® sales – which included homes, land and commercial property – also increased in 2013. There were 1,703 units sold for $376.72 million. That was a 1 percent increase in units sold compared to 2012, and a 5.8 percent increase in value.

The year ended with December sales of 93 home listings worth $22.55 million, the fewest since February. The median sold price was $168,000, the lowest for any month since March 2009 ($164,000).

December was the tenth consecutive month Realtors® sold more than 90 homes. That’s the longest such streak since October 2008, just prior to the collapse of the national housing market.

Nationally, median sold prices continued to climb in November 2013, the most recent month such stats were reported by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $196,300, up 9.4 percent from November 2012. Total sales for the year are expected to be released at the end of January, and should be “the best sales total in seven years,” according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Interest rates are slowly rising. As of January 2, the average 30-year mortgage loan rate was 4.53 percent, up from 4.48 percent, according to Freddie Mac. The average for the 15-year loan increased to 3.55 percent from 3.52 percent. A year ago, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.35 percent; the 15-year, 2.65 percent.

Many experts are predicting an increase in rates into 2014, reaching 5 percent by year’s end.

Monthly homes sales remain at six-year high

Year to date sales through November

Sales remain up as prices continue to attract buyers, according to the latest real estate report by the High Country Association of Realtors®.

November marked the third consecutive month Realtor®-assisted home sales hit a six-year high, both in units sold and total value.

Conversely, for the second straight month the median sold price remained at a six-year low.

There were 105 homes worth $26.7 million sold in November, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks Realtor-assisted sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

That’s a 22 percent and 30 percent increase, respectively, from November last year. It’s also a 52 percent and 46 percent increase, respectively, from November 2010, the year when the local real estate market bottomed out.

Sales continue to be driven by buyers’ market conditions. The median sold price in November was $197,500. That’s above the average for the year so far – $194,888 – but a 6 percent decrease from November of last year.

“We are encouraged that more buyers are coming to the High Country,” said Jerry Starnes, President of High Country Association of Realtors®. “Of course, the houses that are in great condition and priced correctly will sell first.  Inspections and repairs, before listing your home, are highly recommended and will make your sell much more trouble free.”

Year to date, Realtor®-assisted home sales are their highest in six years. They have sold 1,198 homes, one more than the 1,197 sold in the first 11 months of 2008.

While sales continue to recover, prices remain low. The media sold price for the first 11 months of 2008 was $229,000; it was $199,506 in that span last year.

Through November, the median sold price was $193,000.

With regard to all High Country Realtor® transactions – including homes, commercial property and land – sales through the first 11 months are at a five-year high. Local Relators® have sold 1,583 units worth $351.3 million; up 4.1 percent from the 1,521 units worth $326.2 million in the first 11 months of 2012.

Total sales in 2008 were 1,805 worth $434.7 million.

Nationally, Realtor®-assisted home sales have declined slightly. They were down for the second straight month in October. That’s in contrast to the High Country, where Realtor-assisted home sales were the highest in six years. There were 147 homes sold worth $40.7 million in October. The median sold price was $180,000.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $199,500, up 12.8 percent from October 2012.

“The erosion in buying power is dampening home sales,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the  National Association of Realtors®.  “Moreover, low inventory is holding back sales while at the same time pushing up home prices in most of the country.”

Economists are also reporting a steady increase in interest rates. The 30-year, fixed-rate loan rose to 4.46% in the first week of December. Rates have ranged from a low of 3.34% in the first week of January to a high of 4.58% in August.

Live the Dream #35 – Choose and cut your own Christmas tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
We enjoyed ourselves in your extraction

While most of the world acknowledged Black Friday last week, in the High Country the color was all green. Hundreds of people descended upon the many Choose and Cut Christmas tree farms here, not only to personally find that perfect family tree but to take part in an old fashioned holiday experience.

Choose and Cut TreeAfter tagging a tree, enjoy a sleigh ride hayride through the woods and allow farm workers to chop down, transport, bale and tie your favorite Christmas tree to the roof of your car. Savor the sweet smells of Christmas and fragrant evergreen foliage by wandering through an onsite Christmas tree gift shop to pick out your favorite ornament or wreath.

And don’t forget to cap off this magical holiday experience with a piping hot cup of apple cider and a freshly baked sugar cookie before driving away with your new tree.

For residents, it’s also a grand time to visit old friends and mingle with neighbors coincidentally walking the same green path as you. Small town living has its unique advantages, and roaming your favorite Christmas tree farm with the family is one much treasured in the High Country area. The occasional bonus – snow!

Real Estate Report: October best month of sales since 2007

October 2013 salesRealtor®-assisted home sales hit a six-year high in October, as buyers’ market conditions continue to attract buyers to the local real estate market.

Sales year to date are also on track to surpass those recorded in 2012.

There were 144 homes worth $39.99 million sold last month, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which records Realtor® sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

That’s the highest one-month sales total since October 2007, when 178 homes sold. It was also the highest sales value since August 2008, when $42.8 million was sold.

Median sold price for October was $181,000, the lowest since March.

“We are pleased to see that real estate activity in the High Country continues to improve, which is good news for both buyers and sellers,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors®.

Since the summer selling season started in June, High Country Realtors® have sold an average of 132 homes a month. The average value was $35.98 million. That represents the busiest summer season since 2007, prior to the Great Recession.

For the year, Realtors® have sold 1,090 homes worth $282.16 million. That’s outpacing last year’s sales at this point, when 1,064 homes worth $266.08 sold.

The median sold price in that span is down 2.9 percent, from $197,400 to $191,750.

Interest rates continue to motivate buyers. They remain at near historic lows.

As of November 7, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate home loan averaged 4.16 percent, according to Freddie Mac. That rate was up from 4.1 percent the week prior. It’s also a significant decrease from early July, when rates hits 4.51 percent.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors®, recently said national existing-home sales are expected to retain the healthy gains seen this year, while prices will stay on an uptrend in 2014.

Real Estate Report: Sales steady but inventory remains high

YTD sales through September 2013Local real estate sales increased for the third consecutive month in September, hitting year highs in both homes sold and total value.

Year to date, total Realtor® sales in the three-county area are at a six-year high, according to the High Country Association of Realtors®.

There were 131 homes sold worth $38.01 million in September. That’s a slight increase over August, when 130 homes sold for $36.16 million, according to the High County Multiple Listing Service which tracks Realtor® sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

The median sold price – the price point at which just as many home sold above it as below – dropped, from $220,000 in August to $200,000 in September. Yet the average sold price – sum of all final prices divided by sales – was $290,185, a three-year high.

Year to year, the median sold price for September made a huge jump, from $174,950 to $200,000; a 14 percent increase. There were 128 homes sold then for $29.83 million.

“A few more buyers have helped our market,” said Jerry Starnes, president of the High Country Association of Realtors. “But a two to three year inventory level will keep prices from improving.”

At the end of September there were 3,071 active listings in the High Country market.

For the year so far, Realtor® home sales are near even to this time in 2012. Through the first nine months of 2013, 944 homes have sold, compared to 946 last year. The cumulative sales value is up 4 percent, to $241.9 million.

The median sold price is down 1.2 percent, from $197,400 to $195,000.

With regard to total Realtor® real estate activity – including not just single-family homes, condos, and townhouses but also commercial land, acreage and subdivision lots – year-to-date sales are up slightly, from 1,253 to 1,260. Sales value is up 5.2 percent, to $277.6 million. That’s the highest sales value through nine months since 2008.

Interest rates continue to remain low. Earlier in the summer there were predictions rates would spike, but they’ve remained steady the past few weeks. As of October 10, 30-year fixed-rate loans averaged 4.23%, statistically unchanged from 4.22% the previous week, and the lowest level since June, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. Rates are up less than one percent since May.

Nationally, existing-home sales increased in August to the highest level in six-and-a-half years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. It also reported national sales are at the highest pace since February 2007.

In North Carolina, Realtor® sales are up 24 percent compared to last year. The average sold price is up 5 percent, to $210,526.

Live the Dream #42 – High Country a great place for clean air

CNN Money recently profiled 20 towns across America which it labeled “Great places for clean air.” According to government sources, the air quality in these towns are rated highly, and pollution levels are below the U.S. average.

Coming in at No. 4 was Boone, NC.

CNN Money - Boone a great place for clean air

This is just another in a list of special distinctions related to the High Country of North Carolina. In recent years it’s been called one of the nation’s:

Right now there are more than 3,100 active listings within the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Explore your opportunities to live the dream in the mountains of North Carolina.

All information is subject to change and should be independently verified. Copyright© 2012, HIGH COUNTRY MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE®. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer: High Country Association of REALTORS® makes no representations or warranties of any nature with regard to the privacy and/or business practices of the websites linked from or to Highcountryrealtors.org nor with regard to their use of any information they may collect.


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