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Brisk Real Estate Sales as Winter Moves In, Realtor Association Adds Alleghany


As the weather turns brisk, local real estate activity remained so, with home sales continuing to set new highs into October.

In that same time span, the High Country Association of Realtors also grew, voting to add Alleghany County to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

According to the MLS, there were 144 homes sold in October by Realtors in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That extended to eight the number of consecutive months with more than 100 closings recorded, the longest such streak since the end of 2007.

It was also the fifth straight month with more than 140 listings sold – the best such streak since June to October 2007.

With two months remaining in 2015, local Realtors have sold 1,328 homes for the year. Based on preliminary sales figures through the first 20 days of November, sales this year will easily be the highest seen in the three-county area since 2007, prior to the collapse of the housing market.

“This has been a very busy year for our members. We are delighted to welcome Alleghany to our High Country family,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors®. “Our membership now consists of agents from Ashe, Alleghany, Avery and Watauga.”

“With this much territory to cover we are gearing up for an even busier 2016,” she said.

The 144 homes sold in October edged the 143 sold in October of last year, though the combined sales were much higher; $38.4 million compared to $36 million the year before.

The median price in October was $209,500. For the first 10 months of the year the midpoint for all sales was $200,000.

Inventory is declining. There were about 2,500 homes on the market at the start of December, well below the peak for the year recorded in July when just over 3,100 homes were for sale.

The High Country is following some national trends, including an increase in overall sales activity. According to the National Association of Realtorsoct15_graphic (NAR), the national housing market has moved from “recovery to stabilization.”

According to a recent NAR survey, sellers realized a median equity gain of $40,000 this year over their home’s original purchase price. Factors motivating buyers include strong job growth, improving affordability and mortgage rates below 4 percent.

“Sales activity in 2016 will once again be primarily driven by the ongoing release of more pent-up sellers finally realizing their equity gains and using it towards the down payment on their next home,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist with NAR.

Mortgage rates did increase slightly through October. The 30-year fixed rate was 3.93 percent as of December 3, according to Freddie Mac. That was up from the 3.76 percent reported on October 8.

The 15-year fixed rate increased to 3.16 percent.

Both rates are down just a bit from a year ago. The 30-year rate was 3.99 percent, and the 15-year rate was 3.01 percent, back on November 20, 2014.