High Country Association of Realtors Monthly Report: Real Estate Sales Brisk in February

Published Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 9:45 am

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A month heavy with snow proved to be among the busiest for local realtors, with February sales hitting an eight-year high for the month.

Meanwhile interest rates remain below where they were a year ago.

There were plenty of local buyers in February, with 92 homes sold worth $20.41 million, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which records all realtor transactions in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

The median sold price for the month was $210,950.

The brisk business came in a month of wintry weather. Grandfather Mountain’s weather station recorded five records for low daily temperatures, and area schools missed for more than nine days due to wintry weather.

“The wintry weather may have delayed a few closings but not the slow and steady pace of housing recovery in the High Country,” said High Country Association of Realtors President Pam Vines. “Although prices have not recovered to their all-time highs of several years ago, the higher volume of sales means that more buyers and sellers are finding that middle ground that reflects today’s prices.”

The sales for February were well behind the norm prior to the real estate crash of 2008. In February 2007, local Realtors sold 124 homes worth $33.3 million. One year later, those numbers dropped to 90 homes sold worth $24.46 million.

After dipping to just 34 homes sold worth $7.69 million in February 2010, activity for the month has gradually increased. Overall, from 2008 to 2014, realtors’ average activity for the month of February was 68 homes sold worth $16 million.

With regard to local inventory, there were 2,249 homes listed with Realtors as of March 7. That’s slightly more than the 2,244 homes listed in early January.

The READReport, which records all real estate transactions in the three-county area, reported 214 sales worth $38.04 million during the month, a 33 percent increase from February 2014.

Interest rates continue to be attractive for home buyers. According to loan giant Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed interest rate as of March 5 was 3.75 percent, well below the 4.28 percent rate recorded a year prior on March 6, 2014.

The rate for a 15-year loan as of March 5 was 3.03 percent, well below the 3.32 percent rate of March 6, 2014.

Perhaps thanks in great part to interest rates, pending homes sales nationally are at their highest point since August 2013. According to the Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, home buyers in January signed contracts at a pace that highlights underlying demand in today’s housing market.

“Contract activity is convincingly up compared to a year ago despite comparable inventory levels,” he said. “The difference this year is the positive factors supporting stronger sales, such as slightly improving credit conditions, more jobs and slower price growth.”

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