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HC Association of Realtors: Interest Rates Surge as Real Estate Sales Continue


With one month remaining in the calendar year, local Realtors have already sold more homes than in any one year since at least 2007.

The latest burst of activity came as mortgage rates did something they haven’t done in years – spike. Dramatically.

So far this year local Realtors have sold 1,934 homes, 14 percent more than were sold in all of 2015. It’s also 5 percent more than were sold in 2007, prior to the collapse of the housing market.

November was another busy month. Realtors sold 184 homes worth $43.58 million, according to the High Country MLS, which records sales in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That broke a three-month streak of sales of more than 220 homes, but was still the fifth busiest month this year.

The median sold price – the midpoint at which half of all homes sold – was $192,500.

The strong demand has led to a much reduced inventory, which traditionally shrinks during the winter months. There were 2,224 homes listed on the High Country MLS as of December 11, the fewest since late February and about 300 fewer than a year ago.

Business in November wasn’t hampered by interest rates, which all the summer remained well below 4 percent. That changed after Election Day.

The week prior to the election, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.54 percent, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. Following the election, the average increased to 3.57 percent, then to 3.94 percent the week after. It broke 4 percent November 23 and continues to climb. It was 4.13 percent as of December 8.

The 15-year rate also jumped, from  2.84 percent November 3 to 3.36 percent a month later.

Those rates were 3.95 percent and 3.19 percent, respectively, a year ago.

To put the recent increases in perspective, a $300,000 home purchased the first week of November would have cost $487,383, with a monthly payment of $1,354.

That same house bought this week would cost a total of $523,735 (an increase of almost $37,000). The monthly payment would be $1,455.

Some analysts expect rates to continue increasing.  

“As rates continue to climb and the year comes to a close, this week’s … meeting will be the talk of the town with the markets 94 percent certain of a quarter-point-rate hike,” reported Freddie Mac in a release, referring to potential moves by the Federal Reserve.