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High Country Realtor May Report: Interest Rates Near Record Low, Sales Remain Steady


Inventory is increasing. Sales are keeping pace. And interest rates are at a three-year low.

Put together, those three trends indicate it’s a great time to be in the High Country real estate market.

Through the first four months of 2016, local realtors are reporting sales 11 percent higher than at this point last year. In numerical terms, that’s an increase of 53 homes sold in Ashe, Avery, Allaghany and Watauga counties, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Cumulative sales for the year also surpassed $100 million in April ($109.5 million), the earliest that mark has been broken since 2008.

The median sold price is also up, but only 1.2 percent, from $195,000 to $197,250.

Driving the business, in part, is low interest rates, which continue to defy expectations. Freddie Mac, the loan giant, reported May 12 the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.57 percent. That is not just the low for the year, but the lowest rate since 2013. It’s also not too far from the all-time lowest rate on record, 3.31 percent, recorded Thanksgiving 2012.

The latest 15-year fixed rate was 2.81 percent.

“The average 30-year rate will likely remain under 4 percent throughout the spring and summer and into the early fall,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com. “The average forecast sees the 30-year conforming rate ending the year at 4.21 percent, which would be 12 basis points higher than we ended 2015.”

As the busy summer selling season gets underway, the inventory level continues to swell. As of May 15, there were 2,707 homes listed within the High Country MLS. That’s an increase of about 200 listings compared to mid-March, and on par with inventory levels in mid-May 2015 and 2014.

In the month of April alone, High Country Realtors® sold 128 homes worth $28.94 million. That extended to 14 the streak of months in which sales surpassed 100 listings. That’s the longest such streak since December 2007.

The median sold price for the month was $206,250, the highest such mark so far this year.

Local Realtors® have sold 474 homes through April, according to the MLS. That’s the best start to a year since 2007, which is prior to the real estate collapse of 2008.

So far this year the High Country is matching national trends. According to the National Association of Realtors®, existing-home sales are on track to come in at their highest pace since 2006.