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High Country Association of Realtors: Inventory Declining as Real Estate Activity Stays Busy

High Country temperatures are beginning to cool, but not the busy summer real estate season.

In August local Realtor activity hit a high for the year, surpassing 200 for the second straight month. Interest rates dropped throughout the month, and by mid-September were at their lowest levels of 2017.

Local inventory, meanwhile, is starting to decline.

There were 209 homes worth $52.6 million sold in August, according to the High Country Association of Realtors, which represents real estate professionals in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That was the busiest month of the year so far, and a slight increase over the 204 homes worth $50 million sold in July.

The average sale price – total value divided by sales – was $251,000, as calculated by the High Country Multiple Listing Service.

Overall sales for the year are slightly outpacing 2016, 1,301 to 1,292. The summer season is just keeping pace with last year. There were 602 homes sold from June through August, compared to 629 sold in that span last year.

Inventory is beginning to reflect the recent activity. After peaking at 2,430 homes in mid-August, there were 2,348 active listings within the MLS as of Sept. 13.

Interest rates are also dropping. Loan giant Freddie Mac reported September 14 the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.78 percent. The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.08 percent.

Both rates are down from where they were in mid-March, when the 30-year average was 4.3 percent. They have been on a downward trend since. There is reason to believe that could change.

“Following a sharp decline last week, the 10-year Treasury yield rose 11 basis points this week,” said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “If Treasury yields continue to rise, mortgage rates could see an increase in next week’s survey.”

The lower rates are spurring activity. Mortgage applications to purchase a home jumped 11 percent the week of September 11, and were 7 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Mortgage applications to refinance a home loan also rose, up 9 percent for that week.