Feb. 14, 2018. Rising interest rates didn’t deter home buyers in January, with local Realtors® marking the new year with continued brisk business. The first month of the year – with its traditional snow and wintry weather mix – is usually one of the calmest, but not in 2018. Home buyers remained active in the High Country area, with sales within Ashe, Alleghany and Avery counties the best in more than a decade. There were 136 homes worth $34.61 million sold in January, according to the High County Multiple Listing Service. It records all Realtor® activity in the four-county area. It was the busiest January since at least 2007, when 112 homes worth $29.26 million were sold. It’s a 32 percent increase from last January (103), and a 19.3 percent increase from January 2016 (114).