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High Country Housing Market Hits Three-Year High: Largest Year-to-Year Increase Since 2005

By Ron Fitzwater

March 13, 2012. For those concerned about the High Country housing market in the current challenged economy, good news is always something welcome. This week the good news came that the High Country housing market is seeing the first glimmers of positive light in what had been a three-year low in new home sales.  

According to a press release from the High Country Association of Realtors (HCAR), which is comprised of realtors from Ashe, Avery and Watauga Counties, “The average price of a home sold [in 2011] was $261,512. That’s a three-percent increase in the average recorded in 2010 of $253,967 and just surpasses the average set in 2009 of $260,604. Additionally, according to HCAR, the current year-to-year increase is the largest since 2005.

“After three years of decline, the increase in the median price of home sales should be encouraging to local property owners,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of the 600-member HCAR.

The 2011 numbers indicated that the High Country real estate market may be poised for growth, or at least stability, in the coming year.

This is the first really positive news the market has seen since the national economy went into recession, due in large part to the sub-prime lending implosion. In 2006, the average price of a home sold in the High Country was $307,256 but then the price dropped for three consecutive years, until dropping to 6.7 percent in 2009. It went down another 4.8 percent in 2010, with the average price at just over $250,000.

In 2011 the market turned a corner and saw sales rise eight percent with 1,014 homes being sold (91) in September alone and 41 percent paid for in cash. National reports are positive about additional market increases. According to Bob Neilson, a builder and chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “Builder confidence has now risen four months in a row, with the latest uptick being universally represented across every index component and region.” But new home sales and construction isn’t the only area where improvements are being tracked.

The remodeling market rose to its highest level in five years. According to the NAHB Remodeling Market Index (RMI) for the fourth quarter of 2011, released on Jan 12, 2012, the RMI increased to 46.6 in the fourth quarter up from 41.7 in the third quarter.
For more information, please visit www.highcountryrealtors.com/news.