March real estate sales remained strong during pandemic
April 9, 2020, 9:51am
Though impacted like most every industry in the country by the coronavirus pandemic, area REALTORS® conducted business throughout the month of March. Unit sales for the month were slightly lower than a year ago, while unit sales for the first quarter of the year were up.
The full economic impact of the pandemic on High Country home sales won’t be realized until the end of April, a full month after North Carolina’s stay-at-home order went into effect. Members of the High Country Association of REALTORS® are continuing to work, though virtual tours and video conferencing have replaced open houses (now canceled) and other traditional buyer/seller interactions.
In March, REALTORS® sold 176 homes worth $51.98 million, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It records all transactions by REALTORS® operating in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.
Unit sales were down 8 percent compared to last March, when 190 homes were sold for $52.9 million. The median sold price year-to-year was up 4 percent, from $225,000 in March 2019 to $235,000 last month.
Going back two years, the number of homes sold is on par with March 2018. REALTORS® then sold 178 homes for $43.92 million. The median sold price then was $224,250.
For the quarter - January to March - overall REALTOR® home transactions were up 10 percent from a year ago. REALTORS® sold 531 homes worth $166.35 million in that span, with a median sold price of $235,000. In the first quarter of 2019 they sold 481 homes worth $143.53 million. The median sold price was $227,500.
Inventory increased slightly during March. There were 1,202 active home listings on the MLS as of April 7. There were approximately 1,140 a month earlier.
As of April 7, there were 256 High Country homes under contract.
LAND AND COMMERCIAL SALES. REALTORS® sold 51 tracts of land worth $5.37 million in March. That’s a slight increase from a year ago, when 48 land listings sold for $3.94 million.
In Watauga County there were 17 land listings sold for $2.14 million. That was the fewest sold in a month since 11 transactions were recorded in February 2019.
Alleghany County recorded eight land transactions worth $318,465, the most since November. Ashe County recorded 17 sales for $760,522. There were four listings sold for $1.2 million in Avery County.
There was only one commercial sale in the four-county area in March. It was a transaction worth $360,000 in Ashe County.
ALLEGHANY COUNTY. The number of homes sold for the quarter was down slightly year-to-year. There were 33 homes sold for $6.33 million through the end of March. The median sold price was $180,000. A year ago there were 37 homes sold for $7.45 million in that span. The median sold price was $157,000.
REALTORS® sold nine homes worth $1.49 million in March alone. That was the fewest sold in a month since last August (also nine).
ASHE COUNTY. The number of homes sold for the quarter was up 17 percent compared to 2019. The median sold price for that span was up 21 percent.
Through March, REALTORS® sold 103 homes worth $26.11 million in Ashe County. The median sold price was $230,000. In the first three months of 2019 they sold 88 homes worth $19.78 million. The median sold price was $190,500.
REALTORS® sold 35 homes worth $9.37 million in March. That is in line with recent sales in the county. Since July REALTORS® have sold an average of 38 homes a month.
AVERY COUNTY. First quarter net home sales were up 52 percent compared to last year. REALTORS® sold 98 listings worth $27.3 million this year. They sold 64 homes worth $20.6 in the first three months of last year. The median sold price is also up, from $168,750 last year to $185,000 in 2020.
REALTORS® sold 27 homes worth $7.06 million in March, almost mirroring February's transactions (26 homes worth $6.43 million). The median sold price was $170,000.
WATAUGA COUNTY. First quarter net home sales were down six percent compared to a year ago. REALTORS® sold 232 listings worth $86.98 million this year compared to 247 listings worth $79.53 million in early 2019. The median sold price is up though, from $270,000 to $280,000.
There were 83 homes sold for $28.6 million in March, the most so far this year. The median sold price was $250,000.
INTEREST RATES. While unit home sales have been steady during the pandemic, interest rates have fluctuated. At the start of March the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.29 percent, the lowest it's been in nearly 50 years. Two weeks later it spiked to 3.65 percent.
As of April 2 the rate was back down to 3.33 percent, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. The average fixed 15-year rate was 2.82 percent.
“While the market has stabilized relative to prior weeks, homebuyer demand has declined in response to current economic conditions,” said Freddie Mac in a press release.