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High Country Home Sales Slow During Month of Stay-At-Home Rules

Regional home sales declined in April, as both buyers and sellers coped with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. REALTORS® remained at work throughout the month albeit under extraordinary conditions, according to the most recent sales figures recorded by the High Country Association of REALTORS®.

A strong first quarter bolstered totals for the year through April 30, with sales off just 1.1 percent from 2019’s strong pace. In the first four months last year, 659 homes were sold for $198.17 million. This year there have been 656 homes sold for $200.34 million.

During April, buyers remained active in the four-county area. Sellers did not, as stay-at-home orders and other precautions may have led to a tightening of the overall housing supply. As of May 11, there were approximately 1,190 homes for sale on the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). About 200 new listings were added during April, the fewest in a month so far this year and less than half of the 441 listings added in April 2019.

Last year at this time the MLS reported 1,550 total active listings. Historically, May is the month with the highest number of new listings coming to market as the region comes into the height of the summer selling season.

A recent survey from the National Association of REALTORS® found a significant number of potential sellers – more than three in four (77 percent) – reported preparing to sell their homes following the end of stay-at-home orders, with half completing do-it-yourself home improvement projects.

In April, local REALTORS® sold 123 homes worth $32.9 million. That’s according to the High Country MLS, which records activity by REALTORS® in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties. That was the fewest homes sold in a month since February 2017 (119 homes worth $30.38 million). It was the least active April since 2015 when 122 homes sold for $28 million. In April 2019, local REALTORS sold 173 homes worth $51.5 million.

While overall sales are down, prices are up. The median sold price for homes sold in April was $234,500. In April 2019 it was $227,000. Through April the median sold price for the year was $235,000. This time last year it was $227,000.

According to the NAR national survey, nearly three in four REALTORS® working with sellers during the week of May 3 reported their clients weren’t reducing listing prices to attract buyers.

That trend is reflected in the High Country. During April, sellers received 95.2 percent of their asking price. The close-price-to-original-price ratio was 95.9 percent in March.

High Country homes sold in April were on the market an average of 116 days, according to the MLS. That was the quickest on-market average recorded since last July (114 days).

LAND SALES. There were 40 tracts of land sold for $2.67 million in the four-county area in April. That was the fewest sold in a month this year and a 15-month low.

There were 15 lands listings sold for $808,949 in Watauga County, followed by Ashe County (13 for $1.1 million), Avery County (six for $453,500), and Alleghany County (six for $294,098).

ALLEGHANY COUNTY. REALTORS® sold 15 homes worth $2.5 million in April, the most listing sold in a month since last October (20). The median sold price was $168,000.

Last April there were 12 homes sold for $2.86 million. The median sold price was $211,000.

ASHE COUNTY. There were 21 homes sold for $6.75 million in April. The median sold price was $283,000. A year ago there were 38 homes sold for $12.46 million.

AVERY COUNTY. REALTORS® sold 21 homes in April, the fewest in a month since February 2019 (19 sold). The total value was $3.97 million. The median sold price was $159,000.

Last April there were 27 homes sold for $6.15 million. The median sold price was $165,000.

WATAUGA COUNTY. Home unit sales hit a two-year low in April, with 55 homes sold for $17.75 million. It was the fewest homes sold by REALTORS® in the county since January 2017 (54 sold). The median sold price was $280,000.

Last April, REALTORS® sold 88 homes worth $30.25 million. The median sold price was $273,500.

INTEREST RATES. Mortgage rates remain near record lows, with a slight uptick heading into May. That’s according to the latest report from loan giant Freddie Mac.

The average 30-year fixed rate was 3.26 percent, as of May 7. The average rate has been at or below 3.3 percent since April 2. The average 15-year fixed rate was 2.73 percent.

“Mortgage rates stayed at or near record lows for the fifth straight week and homeowners are taking advantage with refinance activity remaining high,” said Freddie Mac in a statement. “Although purchase demand declined thirty-five percent year-over-year in mid-April, demand has improved modestly over the last three weeks.”