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High Country Real Estate Activity Steady in May; 148 Area Homes Sold During the Month

Regional home sales were down almost 40 percent in May compared to a year ago but were higher than in April as High Country REALTORS™ continued adapting to serving their clients in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

North Carolina’s Phase 2 opening in mid-May, as directed by Gov. Roy Cooper, allowed increased movement in the state. This encouraged more potential buyers and sellers to engage with members of the High Country Association of REALTORS™ (HCAR), who have all been deemed an essential service.

“Inventory remains low, down about 34 percent from where it was last year at this time,” said Pam J. Vines, 2020 HCAR president. “The lack of listings is expected to keep sales growth down in the near future, but at the moment attractive listings are going fast.”

There were 148 area homes worth $42.74 million sold in May, a unit sales increase of 14 percent from April, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It records all sales data from REALTORS™ working in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties.

Last May area REALTORS™ sold 242 homes. That was the most unit sales recorded in any May since at least 2006. While the latest May sales total was well below that level, it was still higher than sales recorded in any May from 2008 to 2015 (the period known as the Great Recession and its recovery).

The median sold price in May was $235,275. That coincidentally matches the median sold price through the first five months of the year. The median sold price last May was $248,500.

High Country inventory remains limited. There were approximately 1,180 active residential listings in the MLS as of June 5 (There were slightly more than 1,800 a year ago). There were 318 new listings added in May, the second-highest number of new listings in a month since last August.

REALTORS™ have been working with motivated buyers, as expressed in the listing to closing price ratio. It was 94 percent in May, the third consecutive month it’s been 94 percent or higher.

LAND AND COMMERCIAL SALES. There were 35 tracts of land sold for $3.297 million in May. That was the fewest land transactions recorded in a month since February 2019 (26 for $2.1 million).

There were 12 tracts of land sold for $2.21 million in Watauga County and 13 tracts sold for $474,334 in Ashe County. There were five land transactions in Alleghany ($111,400) and one in Avery County ($18,000). Another four land listings were sold by area REALTORS™ outside of the four-county area.

There were two commercial transactions in May for a combined $630,000. One was in Watauga County ($440,000) and the other in Ashe County ($190,000).

ALLEGHANY COUNTY. REALTORS™ sold 11 homes worth $2.16 million in Alleghany County. The median sold price was $195,000, the highest for a month this year.

There were 32 new residential listings added during the month, the most since last August (also 32). There were 120 active residential and multi-family listings for sale in the county as of June 5.

ASHE COUNTY. There were 25 homes sold for $5.48 million in May, up from the 21 units sold the month prior. The median sold price was $215,000, down from the $283,000 recorded in April.

There were 50 new residential listings from the county added to the MLS in May, the most listings added in a month since June 2019 (51). There were 213 active listings in the county as of June 5.

AVERY COUNTY. REALTORS™ sold 27 homes worth $6.32 million in May, which is near the monthly average sold there since February (25). The median sold price was $172,000, second-highest in that same span.

There were 71 residential listings added to the MLS in May. That was the second-highest influx of new listings since last September; there were 76 in March. There were 279 active listings in the county as of June 5.

WATAUGA COUNTY. There were 65 homes worth $23.42 million sold in Watauga County in May. That was an increase from April (61 sold for $20.93 million), but the second consecutive month less than 70 homes were sold in the county. The last time that few homes sold in a two-month period was January-February 2018 (67 and 63 units, respectively).

The median sold price was $280,000.

There were 127 listings added within the county in May, the second-most since November. There were 420 active listings in the county as of June 5.

INTEREST RATES. Mortgage rates declined throughout May and remained near record lows in early June.

The average 30 year fixed rate was 3.18 percent according to the weekly report released by loan giant Freddie Mac June 4. That was a small increase from the week prior, 3.15 percent, the lowest ever reported in 50 years.

In related news, mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 5 percent for the week ending June 5, and were 18 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.