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High Country Realtors February Report: Real Estate Buyers Outnumbering Sellers Nationally

The local real estate market continues hitting high marks in early 2017.

Sales are up from a year ago. Inventory is increasing. And interest rates are slowly inching up.

All three trends portend another busy year for the High Country Association of Realtors, which represents real estate professionals in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Local realtors sold 118 listings in February, up 17 percent compared to the same month last year, and the busiest February since 2007. It also extended to 24 the number of consecutive months sales have surpassed 100, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

The last month to record just double-digit sales was February 2015, when 94 homes were sold in the four-county area.

The total value of the 118 homes sold last month was $30.28 million. The median sold price – the midpoint at which half of all listings sold above or below – was $187,000. That was the lowest median sold price recorded in a month since July 2015 ($175,000).

Unseasonably warm temperatures encouraged sellers to slowly enter the market. As of March 16 there were 1,944 active listings within the High Country MLS. That was slightly higher than at the start of January (1,886), but about 361 fewer than this time last year (2,288).

The lack of strong supply is a national trend. According to the National Association of Realtors®, some portions of the country recorded slower sales last month because, for now, buyers are outnumbering sellers.

“Sales (nationally) got off to a fantastic start in January,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “But last month’s retreat in contract signings indicates that activity will likely be choppy in coming months as buyers compete for the meager number of listings in their price range.”

Meanwhile interest rates continue to fluctuate. After hovering around 4.16 percent the first two months of the year, the average fixed-rate on a 30-year mortgage hit 4.3 March 16, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. That’s the highest average this young year. The rate was 3.73 percent a year ago.

The 15-year average was 3.5 percent, up from 2.42 a year ago.

To put the increase in perspective, a $300,000 home purchased a year ago would have cost $498,940 after 30 years, with a monthly payment of $1,386. That same house purchased today would cost an estimated $534,461 with a monthly payment around $1,485.

Bankrate.com’s recently reported that 90 percent of its experts surveyed believe rates will move higher in the coming weeks.