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High Country Real Estate Sales Up 20 Percent Through First Two Months of 2020

Realtor home sales were up 20 percent through the first two months of 2020, according to the latest real estate report from the High Country Association of Realtors.

Sales remain strong midway through March, with about 100 listings already sold in the region. This as the nation reacts to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

February historically has been one of the quieter months of the year. Yet Realtors still managed to sell more homes then than in any February since 2006. That’s according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which records sales activity by Realtors active in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties dating back to 2006.

Realtors sold 170 multi- and single-family homes worth $50.45 million in February. That represented a 12 percent increase from February 2019, when 149 homes worth $52.32 million were sold.

The median sold price – the price at which half of all listings sold either above or below – last month was $244,500. The average sold price – all sales divided by properties sold – was $296,787.

Combined with stronger-than-average January sales, Realtors have so far in 2020 reported selling 353 homes worth $114 million. Through the first two months of last year they’d sold 291 homes worth $90.63 million.

The pace of sales is reflected in inventory. There were 1,180 homes for sale in the four-county area as of March 19. That includes more than 170 added during the first two and a half weeks of March. There were about 1,370 listings for sale a year ago.

COMMERCIAL AND LAND SALES. Realtors sold 45 tracts of land worth $5.14 million in February. That’s a big jump from last February, when 26 listings were sold for $2.1 million.

Most of the activity was in Watauga County, where 18 plots sold for $2.29 million. There were 11 tracts sold in Avery County ($1.91 million), followed by Ashe (11 tracts for $674,444) and Alleghany (three for $74,750) counties.

There was one commercial transaction during the month, a $195,000 sale in Watauga County. Eight commercial listings were under contract by the end of the month.

ALLEGHANY COUNTY. Realtors sold 12 houses in February, the most in three months. The total value was $2.48 million. Median sold price was $182,000.

The sales are on par with last year, when 12 homes were sold for $2.76 million. The previous two Februarys combined – 2018 and 2017 – reported only nine homes total sold.

ASHE COUNTY. There were 36 homes worth $9.58 million sold in February, a slight increase from a year ago. Realtors then sold 32 homes worth $7.7 million.

The median sold price last month was $248,000, the highest for a month since August 2019 ($248,750).

Since last February, Realtors have sold an average of 38 homes a month in the county.

AVERY COUNTY. There were 26 homes sold here in February, the fewest in any month since last March (22). The total sales volume last month was $6.43 million. The median sold price was $164,000.

Realtors had sold more than 40 homes per month since June of last year, including 45 homes worth $13.8 million in January 2020. Of those 45, four were for more than $1.1 million. No such high-dollar homes were sold in February.

WATAUGA COUNTY. Realtors sold 72 homes worth $25.68 million in February, the fewest sold in 14 months. They sold 70 homes for $19.4 million in January 2019.

The median sold price last month was $287,700.

Through the first two months of the year, 147 homes have been sold in Watauga; two more than in the same span last year. The median sold price after two months this year was $295,000.

INTEREST RATES. Interest rates hit an all-time low the first week of March, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. The average 30-year fixed rate, as of March 5, was 3.29 percent. That was the lowest level recorded in almost 50 years. A year ago the rate was 4.41 percent.

Since that historic low was record, the 30-year average rate increased slightly the following two weeks. It was at 3.65 percent as of March 19.

“As refinance applications continue to surge and lenders work to manage capacity, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up from last week’s all-time low,” said Freddie Mac in a press release. “Mortgage rates remain at extraordinary levels and many homeowners are smartly weighing their options to refinance, potentially saving themselves money.