Busy Fall Lifts High Country Realtors to Another Year of Sales Growth

Published Monday, January 28, 2019 at 10:57 am

Thanks in great part to an active selling season in the fall, local Realtors® sold more than 2,300 homes in 2018, the busiest year for sales in more than a decade.

Sales were brisk even as interest rates rose throughout the year, including a sharp spike in early fall. Rates reversed course in mid-November. They declined every week through the end of year.

With regard to overall sales, Realtors® sold 2,348 homes worth $652.1 million in 2018, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It is maintained by the High Country Association of Realtors® (HCAR), which is comprised of real estate professionals active within Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

In December of 2018, Bill Aceto was installed as the 2019 president of the HCAR and Marcella Coley was installed as the 2019 president of the High Country MLS.

2018 was the eighth consecutive year of overall sales growth in the region, surpassing 2017 by 7.5 percent (2,185) and 2016 by 9.9 percent (2,136).

Annual sales have been increasing since 2010, when local Realtors® sold 945 homes worth $240.8 million. That followed three years of declining sales due to the collapse of the national housing market in 2008.

Prior to that recession, in 2007, local Realtors® sold 1,842 homes worth $564.63 million.

As annual sales have grown, so has the average selling price. Last year the average home sold in the region went for $277,723. That’s 6.6 percent higher than in 2017 ($260,413) and 12.4 percent higher than in 2016 ($247,252).

Most of the local housing activity was recorded late in the summer selling season into fall. Realtors® sold more homes in the five-month period from July to November (1,171) than they did during the other seven months of the year combined (1,155).

December activity was on par with recent years. Local Realtors® sold 182 homes worth $50.32 million that month. The average sold price was $276,485.

Realtors® begin 2019 with about 1,480 active listings within the MLS. That’s down from the 1,623 that were active this time last year.

Buyers who entered the market late in 2018 were able to take advantage of a sudden drop in interest rates. The average 30-year fixed rate peaked for the year in mid-November at 4.94 percent, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. It has since steadily declined, dropping almost a half percent.

Freddie Mac reported the latest average 30-year to be 4.45 percent, as of January 24. That is the same level they were last April.

To put the interest rate decline in perspective, a $300,000 home purchased with a 30-year mortgage the week of November 15 would have an estimated total cost of $575,814, and an average monthly payment of $1,599.

That same home purchased this week would have an estimated total cost of $544,016, and an average monthly payment of $1,511.

Nationally, home sales were trending up into winter, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Its existing-home sales report for November, the latest monthly available, recorded sales increasing for the second straight month.

Overall though, sales nationally were down 7 percent from a year ago (5.72 million in November 2017).

“Home sales in 2018 look to close out the year with 5.3 million home sales, which would be similar to that experienced in the year 2000,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “But given the 17 million more jobs now compared to the turn of the century, the home sales are clearly underperforming today. That also means there is steady longer-term growth potential.”

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