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High Country Real Estate Remains a Buyer’s Market


June 25, 2014. Buyers’ market conditions continue to drive High Country real estate sales, and they could extend well into the summer as the number of properties listed surges.

Local realtors sold 103 homes worth $24.04 million in May, the second time monthly sales surpassed 100 since November. It was also the second busiest May in the past six years, surpassing all years save 2012, when 107 homes worth $25.3 million were sold.

Attractive prices may be driving those sales. Last month the median sold price – the price at which half of all properties sold for more than that amount and the other half sold for less – was $172,500, the ninth consecutive month it was $200,000 or less.

Through the first five months of the year, Realtor-assisted sales have netted a median sold price of $177,500, a 4 percent decline from this time last year ($185,000).

The average sale price – the total of all sales divided by the number of properties sold – is also down; from $237,281 in the first five months of 2013 to $231,364 this year. That’s a decline of 2.5 percent.

Meanwhile more sellers have entered the market. In May there were 568 homes added or renewed within the High County Multiple Listing Service, which tracks Realtor properties in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That’s the largest one-month addition in at least eight years.

Since February the number of properties listed within the MLS has increased 28 percent, with 3,003 listed as of June 8.

“The High Country is a buzz of activity during the upcoming months. Many visitors enjoying the cooler weather and various festivities would love to own mountain property,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors. “With extensive inventory and attractive prices, this is a great time to buy.”

Realtor® sales for the first five months of the year are up 3.7 percent. There have been 450 homes sold, compared to 432 this time in 2013.

With regard to overall property sales in the High Country, the stats are flipped: sales are down but the value is up.

According to the READReport, which tracks all listings in the High Country including commercial lots and land, there have been 1,014 sales worth $180.8 million through May of this year. There were 1,039 sales for a combined $180.2 million in that same span last year.

For the month of May alone, there were 247 transactions worth $42.33 million, according to the READReport. That is almost even year over year, with 241 transactions worth $43.1 million last May.

Nationally, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced existing-home sales were up slightly in April, the first increase this year.

“Some growth was inevitable after sub-par housing activity in the first quarter, but improved inventory is expanding choices and sales should generally trend upward from this point,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Annual home sales, however, due to a sluggish first quarter, will likely be lower than last year.”

The median existing-home price nationwide for all housing types in April was $201,700, a 5.2 percent increase over April 2013.

June opened with a slight increase in mortgage rates, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year loan as of June 5 was 4.14 percent, up from 4.12% the week prior. The average for the 15-year mortgage climbed to 3.23 percent from 3.21 percent.

According to a recent report in The Boston Globe, many industry analysts expected mortgage rates to have risen to about 5 percent by June. Yet many investors have been moving into bonds, such as US Treasuries, pushing interest rates down.