High Country Association of Realtors May Report: Busy Selling Season Starts Early

Published Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 9:39 am

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Local Realtors have enjoyed a brisk start to 2015, the busiest in eight years.

Buyers’ market conditions and low interest rates continue to fuel activity, convincing many sellers to get an early start on the busy summer season. New listings surged in April.

So far this year Realtors have sold 390 listings, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That was an increase of 11.7 percent compared to the same span in 2014, when 349 listings sold.

It’s also the most listings sold to start a year since 2008, when 381 transactions were recorded.

Prices, though, remain well below where they were then. In the first four months of 2008, the median sale price was $226,000. This year, in that same span, the price was $200,000.

As buyer activity has picked up, so has seller interest. There were 571 listings added or renewed within the MLS in April, which represents one of the earliest starts to the busy selling season in recent memory. An average of only 471 listings have been added the past five Aprils, and never more than 500 in the month.

“We are excited to see that our selling season has started off so strong,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer with the High Country Association of Realtors. “With inventory high and interest rates still low we are looking forward to an even stronger market increase as we get into the summer months.”

With regard to April, Realtors reported selling 110 homes worth $26.24 million. That was up slightly from March, when 106 sales occurred, but was a huge increase from a year ago, April 2014, when only 77 homes sold.

The median sale price for last month was $187,500, down 6.3 percent compared to April of last year ($200,000).

Interest rates climbed slightly in April. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage was 3.66 on April 9, and creeped up to 3.8 percent by May 7, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. The 15-year rate also climbed in that span, from 2.93 percent to 3.02 percent.

Those low rates, along with other economic conditions, are expected to boost the housing market this year, according to one analyst.

“This should be a good year for housing, buoyed by sustained job growth, rising consumer confidence that is back to pre-recession levels, and a gradual uptick in household formations,” said David Crowe, National Association of Home Builders chief economist. “We expect 2016 to be even better, due to a significant amount of pent-up demand and an economy that will be entering a period of reasonable strength and consistency.”

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