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Summer Real Estate Sales in the High Country Up Five percent

The summer months are known for being the busiest time of the year in the local real estate market. The season just completed followed that trend.

Local Realtors recorded sales 5 percent higher this summer than in the same period last year. The average sale price was also up.

This occurred as interest rates climbed. They’ve been tending up since mid-August and recently hit a seven-year high. That didn’t discourage local buyers.

From June to September there were 897 homes worth $255.02 million sold in the region, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It documents all Realtor sales within Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

The average sold price in that four-month span was $284,301. Last summer, Realtors sold 852 homes worth $222.17 million. The average sale price was $260,767.

The recent seasonal activity came even as sales in September were at a three-year low.

There were 221 homes worth $65.03 million sold that month. Year-to-year that’s a 9 percent decline compared to last September (243 sold for $67.53 million) and a 3 percent decline from September 2016 (227 homes sold for $55.9 million).

While individual sales were down for the month, the average sold price – $294,234 – just eclipsed the average sold price in August, $292,755. Both are the highest on record for a month since December 2006.

Inventory declined slightly during the month. There were 1,970 active listings within the MLS as of October 16. There were 2,058 in early September.

For the year, local Realtors have sold 1,724 homes in the four-county area, an 11 percent increase compared to this time last year (1,550). The average sold price for the year is $275,917. That’s 9 percent higher than the average sold price last year ($253,420).

The brisk business has occurred while interest rates have steadily tracked higher.

Back in January, the average 30-year fixed rate was below 4 percent. It crossed that threshold before the month’s end and surpassed 4.5 percent in late April. Since then, rates remained somewhat steady until mid-August. They’ve been increasing since.

As of October 25, the average 30-year fixed rate was 4.86 percent, down slightly from two weeks before when it was 4.9 percent, its highest level since April 2011.

The average 15-year fixed rate was 4.29 percent.

“We expect rates to continue to rise, which will put downward pressure on homebuying activity,” said Freddie Mac in a release. “While higher borrowing costs will keep some people out of the market, buyers with more flexibility could take advantage of the decreased competition.”

Nationally, existing home sales through August were down 1.5 percent from a year ago. Pending home sales were down 2.3 percent year-to-year.