High Country Association of REALTORS News

Real Estate Report: Strong start to a new year

The busy real estate trends of 2015 continued into the first month of 2016, with local Realtors® enjoying their busiest January in nine years.

The financial climate also seems encouraging for buyers, with interest rates falling for six consecutive weeks. They are now flirting with a 52-week low.

January 2016 sales“Our January sales figures were strong and evidence of a continuing housing recovery across the High County,” said Tim Carter, 2016 president of the Association of High Country Realtors®. “Agents are reporting more buyers in the market aided by low interest rates.”

“Our biggest challenge is to grow the listing inventory as more buyers enter the market,” he said.

Local Realtors® sold 107 homes worth $24 million in January, the best start to a year since 2007 when 111 homes were sold. In the eight years since, Realtors® have sold an average of 65.4 homes in January. That’s according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which records Realtor® sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Sales for the month were up 25 percent compared to last January (80). It was also the 11th straight month sales surpassed 100 listings.

The median sold price for January was $200,000, 16 percent higher than the median in January 2015 ($167,000).

Inventory is low. As of February 10, there were 2,139 active listings within the MLS. That’s 100 fewer than this time last year, and 200 fewer than at this point in February 2014.

High Country Realtors® are coming off a busy 2015, during which sales hit an eight-year high. That mirrored national trends. According to the National Association of Realtors®, 2015 was the housing market's best year in nearly a decade.

Nationally, total existing-homes were up 6.5 percent from 2014 at a pace of around 5.26 million - the highest since 2006. The national median existing-home price for the year was close to $221,200, up 6 percent from 2014.

In 2016, existing sales are expected to grow between 1 and 2 percent, and prices between 5 and 6 percent.

Encouraging those sales are interest rates near a year-low. The average 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.65 percent for the week ending Feb. 12, well below the 4.01 percent rate the last week of 2015.

A year ago, the 30-year mortgage rate stood at 3.59 percent.

The most recent 15-year fix rate was 2.95 percent, according to loan giant Freddie Mac.