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High Country Association of Realtors: Interest Rates Declining as Home Sales Stay Strong

As the traditionally busy summer season begins, the local real estate market seems poised for another strong quarter.

Sales since January are slightly outpacing last year, up more than 4 percent. Meanwhile interest rates are at their lowest point of the year, and local inventory is growing.

Through the first five months of 2017, local realtors sold 687 homes, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It records activity by the High Country Association of Realtors®, which represents licensed real estate professionals within Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Last year in that span local realtors sold 660 homes.

Some of this year’s growth in sales can be traced to homes priced above $300,000. While the number of homes sold for less are stable year-over-year – 499 to 504 – the number of listings selling for more than $300,000 is up 17 percent.

On a monthly basis, local realtors sold 163 listings in May, down from 179 in May 2016. The average sold price for the month – the total value divided by listings sold – was up; $246,561 this year last May compared to $230,329 last year.

May sales extended to 27 the number of consecutive months Realtors® have sold more than 100 listings.

Sellers continue to enter the market. As of June 8 there were 2,356 active listings within the MLS. That’s 300 more than in early April, but well below the 2,870 that were active last June.

Nationally, interest rates have steadily fallen since spiking at the end of 2016. According to loan giant Freddie Mac, the average 30-year mortgage rate as of June 8 was 3.89 percent. That was only the fourth week this year it’s been below 4 percent.

The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.16 percent.

The year started with the 30-year average rate at 4.2 percent. To give the decline since perspective, a $250,000 home purchased at the start of the year would have cost a total of $440,115, with a monthly payment of $1,223.

That same home purchased this week would cost an estimated $423,986 with a monthly payment around $1,178.

Nationally, home sales have slowed. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) latest sales report showed sales in March and April below last year’s activity. Low inventory was one of the causes.

“Much of the country for the second straight month saw a pullback in pending sales as the rate of new listings continues to lag the quicker pace of homes coming off the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Realtors® are indicating that foot traffic is higher than a year ago, but it’s obviously not translating to more sales.”