The summer selling season was busy for local Realtors.
Sales continued at a strong pace as prices attracted buyers to the market. And, as has been the case for most of the year, interest rates remained near historic lows.
There were 216 homes worth $53.57 million sold in September, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which records all Realtor activity in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.
That’s a 9 percent increase in sales compared to last September, which was the most active month of 2015. It was also the third time in the past four months Realtors sold more than 200 listings.
With three months remaining in the calendar year, local Realtors have sold 1,499 homes. That is 20 percent more than were sold in the same nine-month period last year (1,254), and more than was sold total in year 2014 (1,470).
The median sold price in September – the midpoint of all sales – was $191,500. That was the lowest since February ($175,000).
As of October 9, there were 2,722 listings active in the High Country MLS. Inventory is down about 8.5 percent since its peak in mid-July, and on par with levels recorded in mid-May.
While sales remain strong, interest rates have fallen and are near historic lows. As of October 6, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.47 percent, according to Freddie Mac. A year ago the 30-year rate averaged 3.82 percent.
To put the decline in perspective, a $300,000 home purchased a year ago would have an estimated $504,464 mortgage and a $1,401 monthly payment.
That same house today, at the current rate, would have a $483,161 mortgage and $1,342 monthly payment.
The 15-year fixed rate now is 2.76 percent, down from 3.03 percent a year ago.
While rates are low, national Realtor sales are declining. In August, the last month in which national statistics are available, sales declined .9 percent. Only the Northeast recorded an increase in existing-home sales.
“There’s no question that after peaking in June, sales in a majority of the country have inched backwards because inventory isn’t picking up to tame price growth and replace what’s being quickly sold.,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors’ chief economist.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $240,200, up 5.1 percent from August 2015 ($228,500).