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High Country Association of Realtors August Report: Local Realtor Sales Hit Seven-Year High in August


Sept. 29, 2014. It’s been almost seven years since local realtors sold as many homes as they did in August.

Sell prices were not what they were in 2007. But last month’s sales in the High Country were easily the busiest for the three-county area since the national housing market collapsed in 2008.

There were 168 homes sold by realtors last month, according to the Multiple Listing Service, which records sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That’s the most activity since October 2007, when 178 homes were sold. Only one other month in that seven-year span surpassed 150 – October 2013 (147 sold).

The two high selling months – October 2007 and August 2014 – exemplify how the local market has changed with regard to housing value. In the former month, total sales were $55.99 million with a median sales price of $230,000.

Last month, total realtor sales were $39.02 million, with a median price of $188,500, a decrease of 17 percent compared to October 2007.

For the year, realtors have reported a median sales price of $182,500, a 6 percent decline from last year’s $194,500 sales mark through the same eight-month span.

The prices are attracting buyers. Realtors have sold 836 homes so far this year, slightly outpacing the 818 sold through August of 2013.

There is also plenty of variety. As of September 14, there were 3,255 listings in the High Country MLS, the most at any point this year.

“That’s where a local realtor can really help,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors. “Their knowledge of the local market, experience, and negotiating skills can be a huge benefit to both buyers and sellers.”

The High Country is again mirroring some national trends. After a soft June, sales spiked in July, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Its Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, to 105.9 in July, and is at its highest level since August 2013 (107.1).

“Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 20121,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist . “The increase in the number of new and existing homes for sale is creating less competition and is giving prospective buyers more time to review their options before submitting an offer.”

The 30-year mortgage rate averaged 4.12 percent as of September 12. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rate is similarly low, averaging 3.24 percent. According to the Washington Post, Freddie Mac expected the average 30-year rate would rise to 5.1 percent by year’s end.  It has pulled back its projection to 4.3 percent.