High Country Association of Realtors: Busiest September in Decade Powers Real Estate Market

Published Monday, October 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Local real estate activity continued its long standing upward trend through September, with third quarter sales the best in several years.

Growth continues to be driven by competitive interest rates, which remain below 4 percent. Inventory has slowly declined as the summer months fade.

Realtors in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties sold 239 homes worth $65.94 million in September, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. It was the most homes sold since August 2016 (241), and the highest total value for a month since last October ($66.63 million).

It was also the busiest September in at least 10 years. Last year there were 227 homes sold in September, and just 200 in September 2015.

For the quarter – which includes all sales from July through the end of September – local Realtors sold 659 listings worth a combined $170.45 million. The sales were up 2.2 percent compared to the same span last year, and up 38 percent compared to the third quarter of 2014.

The average sale price for the quarter – total value divided by individual listings sold – was $258,645.

For the year so far, local realtors have sold 1,547 homes worth $392.36 million. The average sold price was $253,628.

As sales have been brisk, inventory has slowly declined. There were 2,277 listings within the MLS as of October 9. That’s down from 2,348 in early September, and the 2,327 for sale August 22.

Interest rates are slightly higher than they were a month ago. Loan giant Freddie Mac reported October 12 the average 30-month fixed rate was 3.91 percent. It was 3.78 a month prior, and 3.47 percent at this time last year.

The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.21 percent, up from 3.08 percent in September.

According to some analysts, the recent destruction by two separate major storm systems may stabilize rates in the short term.

“The impact of [the] hurricanes will make it difficult to read a trend on economic data, keeping mortgage rates in a holding pattern,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that nearly two-thirds of the experts it surveyed predict rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week.

Nationally, home sales are declining. In August, the last month in which national statistics are available, sales of existing homes were down for the fourth time in five months.

“Steady employment gains, slowly rising incomes and lower mortgage rates generated sustained buyer interest all summer long, but unfortunately, not more home sales,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist. “What’s ailing the housing market and continues to weigh on overall sales is the inadequate levels of available inventory and the upward pressure it’s putting on prices in several parts of the country. Sales have been unable to break out because there are simply not enough homes for sale.”

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