Early Spring Selling Season Shows Optimism for Real Estate in the High Country

Published Monday, April 25, 2016 at 9:19 am

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Winter grudgingly refused to make way for Spring last month, with snow and frost making late appearances in the High Country, but the local real estate market was anything but cold.

Regional home sales continued to outpace last year’s activity. Prices were up in March. Interest rates have fallen back to where they were at year’s start. And new listings are being added to the High Country MLS, which tracks realtor activity in Ashe, Alleghany, Avery and Watauga counties.

Taken together, the local real estate market appears poised for another optimistic summer selling season.

Local realtors sold 131 homes worth $31.79 million in March, a 15 percent increase in year-to-year sales from March of last year, and a 30 percent increase in month-to-month sales from February.

The median sold price was $205,000, the highest since December ($216,750).

To put the 131 homes sold figure in perspective, since 2012 local realtors have sold an average of 112 listings during the month.

For the year, High Country Association of Realtors members have sold 345 homes. That’s 14 percent more than were sold at this point last year (302).

Inventory is slowing growing. As of April 24 there were just over 2,512 listings active within the High County MLS, a 18 percent increase since the start of the year.

As supply and demand increased locally, interest rates have fallen. Loan giant Freddie Mac reported April 24 the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.59 percent, the lowest rate for mortgages since February last year, and almost half a point less than rates at the start of this year (3.97 percent).

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 2.85 percent, down from 3.26 percent in January.

The 30-year average rate is well below where it was in April 2014 (4.34 percent) and just slightly higher than April 2013 (3.43 percent).

Many economic analysts have been predicting for months that mortgage rates would eventually rise to 5 percent or more. It hasn’t occurred, but the sentiment has been carried over to home buyers.

According to a recent survey by Fannie Mae, more than half of consumers thought mortgage rates will be higher one year from today. Another 43 percent believed rates will hold near their current range.

Only 6 percent of the 1,000 households surveyed expected mortgage rates to drop.

With regard to home sales, 90 percent of consumers thought home prices will rise or hold steady this year.

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