Real Estate Report: Best start to summer in five years
August 16, 2012, 9:49pm
July real estate sales hit a five-year high in the High Country, with sales for the month the strongest recorded this year.
Combined with June sales, High Country realtors are seeing the best start to summer business since 2008.
There were 120 realtor-assisted listings worth $30.6 million sold in July. Both figures are the highest recorded this year, and the most since September 2011, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which tracks sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. (Ashe County joined the MLS in 2011).
Traditionally the summer and fall months are the busiest time of year for local real estate transactions. That appears to be the case again this year, with June (118) and July (120) realtor-assisted sales the best month-to-month performance since August-September 2009. It’s also the best June-July since 2008.
Expanding on that theme, over the past five months 546 listings have been sold. That’s the most in that span of time since June-October 2009, when 548 were sold.
For most of the year it’s been a buyer’s market in the High Country, but there are signs demand may begin impacting prices.
The median price of a listing sold jumped in July, from $179,000 in June to $215,000. That’s the highest median price since February ($235,000) and matches that set in January ($215,000).
At the same time, the number of new listings last month was 224, the fewest added in the past five months.
If sales continue to stay steady with supply shrinking, prices should begin rising.
"Today's buyers and sellers are very savvy and understand the current market trend," said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors. "So I'm not surprised that our local Realtors are responding to more inquiries and showing more properties"
Nationally, real estate sales continue an uneven pattern. Though up year-to-year, sales in June declined compared to May, according to the National Association of Realtors. This may be due to limited supplies of affordable housing.
"Despite the frictions related to obtaining mortgages, buyer interest remains solid. But inventory continues to shrink and that is limiting buying opportunities,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “This, in turn, is pushing up home prices in many markets. The price improvement also results from fewer distressed homes in the sales mix."
It’s still a great time to buy. According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.68 percent in June from 3.80 percent in May. The rate was 4.51 percent a year ago.