Real estate sales remain strong through July

Local Realtors® sold more homes in the past 12 months than in any calendar year since 2007, according to the latest month real estate report by the High Country Association of Realtors®.

The brisk activity occurred while interest rates hovered around 4 percent, and are now below where they were a year ago.

Several weeks remain in the traditionally busy summer selling season.

july_graphic“I am happy to report that July was another good month and our year-to-date sales represent a 28 percent increase in sales over last year,” said Erik Lanier, who compiles the monthly READReport, which records all real estate transactions in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Since August of last year, Realtors® in the three-county area sold 1,502 listings, the most in a 12-month period since 2007. They are selling an average of 125 homes a month, with total sales surpassing 100 in every month but two – January and February.

The median price of a home sold in that span – the price point at which half of all properties sold above or below – was $199,700. That’s higher than any calendar year since 2011.

Sales have increased every month since January, peaking in July when local Realtors® sold 152 homes worth $37.57 million, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. That was slightly more homes than sold the month prior; 146 were sold in June.

The median sold price in July was $177,500, underscoring the longstanding buyers’ market trend in the High Country. That was the lowest median price recorded since January, and 11 percent below the median price for the year ($200,000).

Inventory remains strong. As of August 15, there were 3,106 homes recorded within the MLS. This time last year there were just over 3,200 homes within the MLS.

Local trends are mirroring those seen nationally. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) recently reported that existing-home sales in June were the highest recorded in more than eight years (The July report has yet to be released).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said this year’s summer buying season has been the strongest since the downturn.

“Buyers have come back in force, leading to the strongest past two months in sales since early 2007,” he said. “This wave of demand is being fueled by a year-plus of steady job growth and an improving economy that’s giving more households the financial wherewithal and incentive to buy.”

Interest rates remain near historic lows. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 3.91 percent to 3.94 percent, as of August 14. That’s just slightly above the rate in January, 3.7 percent, but below the rate from August 2014, 4.12 percent.

The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased last week to 3.17 percent from 3.13 percent.

Recent videos showing off the High Country

Elk River Valley, as seen from Beech Mountain.

A drone captured the Parade of Tartans at the 2015 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

And here’s the view from a paraglider participating in the recent Tator Hill Open, located between Boone and the Tennessee state line.

Back on the ground, enjoy the soothing aquatic sounds of Thunderhole Falls in Blowing Rock.

June busiest month for home sales since 2007

Local Realtors® sold more homes in June than they have in any month in almost eight years, putting 2015 on track to be the busiest year for local real estate since the crash of 2008.

The trend is being powered by buyers’ market conditions and historically low interest rates, a combination which is encouraging real estate activity throughout the High Country area.

June sales graphic“We are excited that the market has picked up and buyers are getting great deals on our local real estate,” said High Country of Realtors® president Pam Vines. “Properties are starting to sell quicker and prices are beginning to move upward.”

Realtors® sold 144 homes worth $38.15 million last month, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. That’s the best single month of sales since October 2007, when 178 homes sold for $55.99 million.

The median sold price in June was $224,250, the second consecutive month it’s surpassed $220,000. That month-to-month streak last occurred in May and June of 2011.

The burst of sales in June made the year so far the busiest since 2007. Local Realtors® have sold 647 listings through the first six months of 2015, a 21 percent increase over that span last year (545) and 70 percent more than in 2010 (381).

In the first half of 2007, pre-crash, there were 934 listings sold.

Prices still remain well below where they were then. The median sale price so far this year – the midpoint at which half of all sales occurred above and below – is $209,000. That’s the highest such price in that span since 2011, but well below the mark set in 2007 ($225,000).

The activity is attracting more sellers to the market. There have been 2,449 new listings added to the MLS since the start of the year, including 249 in June alone.

As of July 12 there were 3,104 homes on the market in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Interest rates have been rising slowly the past few weeks, but remain below where they were this time last year. According to loan giant Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.09 percent for the week ending July 16, up from 4.04 percent the week prior. That rate was 4.13 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fix rate increased from 3.20 percent to 3.25, just above where it was in July 2014 (3.23 percent).

“The crisis in Greece continues to generate volatility in U.S. Treasury yields,” said Sean Becketti, chief economist with Freddie Mac. “Rates rose about 16 basis points on the 10-year Treasury from last week. As a result, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 5 basis points this week to 4.09 percent, the highest level since October of last year.”

Nationally, home sales are surging. According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), pending home sales in May were at their highest level in over nine years. That same month also saw existing-home sales increase at their highest pace in nearly six years.

“The steady pace of solid job creation seen now for over a year has given the housing market a boost this spring,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist . “It’s very encouraging to now see a broad based recovery with all four major regions showing solid gains from a year ago and new home sales also coming alive.”

Call to Action: Stop patent trolls

Realtor Party Call To Action
REALTORS® are encouraged to send a letter to their member of Congress in support of legislation that would help curb abuses by patent trolls. Many in real estate have been hit with patent demand letters for using everyday technology, and House lawmakers have crafted H.R. 9 to help curb the practice. You can send a letter in just a few clicks from your computer or phone.

The letter reads in part:

As a REALTOR® in your district, I am writing to ask that you support H.R. 9, the Innovation Act scheduled for House floor consideration the week of July 21st.

REALTORS® across the country receive threatening demand letters and lawsuits alleging patent infringement based on the use of common business tools such as drop down menus or search alert functions on websites and the scanner function on a copier. These patent trolls buy vague patents and use them to turn everyday business practices into potential lawsuits.

We and other small businesses are the victims of abusive behavior at the hands of these trolls. Patent trolls are hurting our economic recovery and forcing companies to divert money that would otherwise be spent to expand our businesses. As a result, targeted companies are left with few options: settle or go through costly, lengthy litigation.

The Innovation Act is a step forward that will protect businesses large and small from frivolous patent lawsuits that are a drain on industry and a tax on innovation. We urge you to pass H.R. 9.

Median sale price spikes in May

BOONE – Local real estate sales remain steady as the summer season begins, with the median sold price in May spiking to a three-year high.

Realtor® activity in the region continues to slightly outpace the sales pace at this time last year, thanks in great part to buyers’ market conditions and low interest rates.

Monthly graphic for MayThere were 113 Realtor®-assisted home sales worth $30.18 million in May, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. With regard to total dollar value, it was the most lucrative month for sales since last November when 135 homes sold worth $31.7 million.

The median sold price – the midpoint price of all sales in the month – was $223,500. That’s the highest median price recorded since February 2012, when 65 homes sold for $16.7 million ($235,000 median price).

In the 39 months since, the median price has surpassed $200,000 on only eight occasions.
Since the beginning of last year, homes in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties have sold for a median price of $190,000. The average sale price in that span –the total dollar value divided by units sold – was $237,344, according to the High Country MLS.

The past three summer selling seasons have each been stronger than the last. Given activity so far, there’s optimism the trend will continue this year.

“As we head into the summer, we have a vast array of inventory in our MLS and hope to continue the trend from the past few years with an even stronger selling season than last year,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer with the High Country Association of Realtors®.

Interest rates went up slightly in early June. The average fixed rate for a 30-year mortgage as of July 2 was 4.08 percent, up from 4.04 percent a month prior, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. It’s was the first time in seven months the rate has hit 4 percent, yet it’s still lower than it was this time last year (4.2 percent).

The average fixed rate for a 15-year loan as of July 2 was 3.24 percent.

“Mortgage rates rose above 4 percent for the first time since November 2014 as Treasury yields surged,” said Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist with Freddie Mac. “Markets are responding to strong employment data.”

Springtime in the High Country

A collection of photos recently shared on social media, spotlighting some of the beauty of the High Country area.

The Blowing Rock

A photo posted by Wayfarer99 (@wayfarer99) on

Downtown Boone, NC

A photo posted by Wayfarer99 (@wayfarer99) on


A photo posted by Swaraj Sharma (@stuckintheaiir) on

Hiking on Beech Mtn! #beechmtn #allofmylove @beechmtn

A photo posted by Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery (@anneneilsonfineart) on

The Blowing Rock

A photo posted by Wayfarer99 (@wayfarer99) on