The real estate business never slowed in 2015. In fact, it only got busier.
After selling 653 homes in the first half of the year, local realtors sold 945 the next six months. To give that number some perspective – and contrast how much the market has improved over the years – more homes were sold the last half of 2015 than in all of 2010 (939).
For the year, Realtors® in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties sold 1,598 homes worth $404.2 million, according to the High County Multiple Listing Service. Those sales were 16 percent above 2014, when 1,373 homes were sold.
The median sold price for the year was $203,500, the highest since 2011 ($212,000).
It was the busiest year for real estate activity since 2007. With interest rates expected to remain steady, local realtors are optimistic the new year will continue recent trends.
“Business usually slows during the holidays and we don’t have many sales,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer with the High Country Association of Realtors. “However, with interest rates rising and the lingering warm weather, our realtors were pleasantly surprised and busy during the past few weeks.”
The year ended briskly, with December sales the highest in at least nine years. Realtors sold 144 homes worth $40.73 million, a substantial increase over the final month of 2014 (108 homes worth $25.03 million) and 2013 (96 homes worth $22.88 million).
In recent years December was one of the slowest months of the year. Since 2008, local realtors have sold an average of 98 homes for the month, surpassing 100 only twice. December 2015 sales were 46 percent above that average.
Prices were also strong for sellers, with the median sold price for the month $219,250.
The new year started with dwindled inventory. As of January 10 there were just over 2,130 listings within the High Country MLS, a two-year low.
Interest rates remain attractive for buyers. On the final day of 2015, they hit a five-month high. The 30-year fixed rate was 4.01 percent, the first time it broke 4 percent since late July, according to Freddie Mac. The 15-year fixed rate was 3.24 percent.
The 30-year rate has since declined to 3.97 percent as of January 7. The 15-year rate increased slightly to 3.26 percent.
For the past two years, many analysts have predicted rates reaching 5 percent. It has yet to occur. Some estimates for 2016 forecast rates reaching around 4.5 percent.
“While we expect the 30-year mortgage rate to be above 4 percent in early 2016, we anticipate rates will gradually increase, averaging 4.4 percent for the year.” said Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
Realtor.com’s chief economist Jonathan Smoke said the 30-year fixed rate could reach close to 4.65 percent by year’s end.