The local real estate market continues to do brisk business, as sales in the first quarter of 2019 increased for the ninth consecutive year, according to the monthly real estate report by the High County Association of Realtors.
Local Realtors sold 473 homes valued at $141.4 million from January to March, as recorded in the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which tracks all Realtor activity in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.
That was an increase of 6.5 percent compared to the same time last year (444 homes sold), and up 19 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017 (398).
Sales have increased in the first quarter every year since 2010, when only 146 homes worth $37.17 million were sold.
Broken down by county, there were 246 homes worth $79.3 million sold within Watauga County during the quarter. There were 88 homes worth $19.8 million sold in Ashe County, 63 worth $20.44 million in Avery County, and 35 worth $6.86 million in Alleghany County.
The median sold price for all homes sold by Realtors in the first three months of the year was $230,000.
COUNTY ACTIVITY. First quarter sales within Alleghany were up 75 percent compared to the same time last year. There were 35 homes sold in that span this year, and 20 last year. Realtor sales within the county were also up 45 percent compared to 2017 (24). The median sold price within the county was $175,000.
Watauga County sales were up 9.8 percent from the previous year (246 to 224), and 23.6 percent from the first quarter of 2017 (199). Ashe County also recorded growth, with sales up 15.8 percent from last year (88 to 76).
Avery County sales were down, dropping 25 percent from last year (63 from 84).
HIGH DOLLAR HOMES. In the first three months of the year, 13 homes sold for more than $1 million. There were only 33 such homes sold during all of last year; just three in the first three months.
This year’s activity was highlighted by a $5.1 million transaction in Avery County. That is the most expensive home ever purchased listed in the High Country MLS. It was one of three sales of more than $1 million within Avery County. Six other such sales were recorded within Watauga.
FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH. There were 184 homes worth $51.28 million sold by Realtors in March. That was a month-to-month increase of 24 percent from February, and a year-to-year increase of 3.4 percent from March 2018.
It was the busiest March for local Realtors in more than 13 years, as sales for the month have increased annually since 113 were sold in 2014. Prior to that, from 2006 to 2013, sales for the month averaged 95 homes.
All four counties recorded sales growth compared to last March, led by Watauga County with 101 homes sold.
MARCH MEDIAN. The median sold price in March – the midpoint price at which half of all homes sold either above or below – was $235,000. That was down from the $245,000 median sold price recorded for the region in February.
In Watauga County, the median sold price in March was $270,000. The median price in Ashe was $227,000 and in Avery $217,500.
INVENTORY UP. Inventory is starting to increase as the busy selling season begins. As of April 8 there were 1,466 active listings within the High Country MLS. That was an increase of almost a 100 from early March, however inventory remains tighter than it was this time last year. There were approximately 1,600 active listings last April.
INTEREST RATES. The average 30-year mortgage rate continues its downward trend. The rate was 4.12 percent as of April 11, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. That’s down almost a full percentage point since mid-November, when the rate was 4.94 percent.
To put the decline in perspective, a $200,000 home purchased in mid-November would have an estimated monthly payment of $1,066, and a total estimated mortgage of $383,876.
That same house purchased today would have an estimated monthly payment of $964, and a total estimated mortgage of $347,068.