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Busiest September in decade powers real estate market

Local rest estate activity continued its long standing upward trend through September, with third quarter sales the best in several years.

Growth continues to be driven by competitive interest rates, which remain below 4 percent. Inventory has slowly declined as the summer months fade.

Sales in September 2017Realtors® in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties sold 239 homes worth $65.94 million in September, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. It was the most homes sold since August 2016 (241), and the highest total value for a month since last October ($66.63 million).

It was also the busiest September in at least 10 years. Last year there were 227 homes sold in September, and just 200 in September 2015.

For the quarter – which includes all sales from July through the end of September – local Realtors sold 659 listings worth a combined $170.45 million. The sales were up 2.2 percent compared to the same span last year, and up 38 percent compared to the third quarter of 2014.

The average sale price for the quarter – total value divided by individual listings sold – was $258,645.

For the year so far, local Realtors® have sold 1,547 homes worth $392.36 million. The average sold price was $253,628.

As sales have been brisk, inventory has slowly declined. There were 2,277 listings within the MLS as of October 9. That’s down from 2,348 in early September, and the 2,327 for sale August 22.

Interest rates are slightly higher than they were a month ago. Loan giant Freddie Mac reported October 12 the average 30-month fixed rate was 3.91 percent. It was 3.78 a month prior, and 3.47 percent at this time last year.

The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.21 percent, up from 3.08 percent in September.

According to some analysts, the recent destruction by two separate major storm systems may stabilize rates in the short term.

“The impact of [the] hurricanes will make it difficult to read a trend on economic data, keeping mortgage rates in a holding pattern,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that nearly two-thirds of the experts it surveyed predict rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week.

Nationally, home sales are declining. In August, the last month in which national statistics are available, sales of existing homes were down for the fourth time in five months.

“Steady employment gains, slowly rising incomes and lower mortgage rates generated sustained buyer interest all summer long, but unfortunately, not more home sales,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors® chief economist. “What’s ailing the housing market and continues to weigh on overall sales is the inadequate levels of available inventory and the upward pressure it’s putting on prices in several parts of the country. Sales have been unable to break out because there are simply not enough homes for sale.”


Inventory declining as real estate activity stays busy

High Country temperatures are beginning to cool, but not the busy summer real estate season.

In August local Realtor activity hit a high for the year, surpassing 200 for the second straight month. Interest rates dropped throughout the month, and by mid-September were at their lowest levels of 2017.

August real estate salesLocal inventory, meanwhile, is starting to decline.

There were 209 homes worth $52.6 million sold in August, according to the High Country Association of Realtors, which represents real estate professionals in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That was the busiest month of the year so far, and a slight increase over the 204 homes worth $50 million sold in July.

The average sale price – total value divided by sales – was $251,000, as calculated by the High Country Multiple Listing Service.

Overall sales for the year are slightly outpacing 2016, 1,301 to 1,292. The summer season is just keeping pace with last year. There were 602 homes sold from June through August, compared to 629 sold in that span last year.

Inventory is beginning to reflect the recent activity. After peaking at 2,430 homes in mid-August, there were 2,348 active listings within the MLS as of Sept. 13.

Interest rates are also dropping. Loan giant Freddie Mac reported September 14 the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.78 percent. The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.08 percent.

Both rates are down from where they were in mid-March, when the 30-year average was 4.3 percent. They have been on a downward trend since. There is reason to believe that could change.

“Following a sharp decline last week, the 10-year Treasury yield rose 11 basis points this week,” said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “If Treasury yields continue to rise, mortgage rates could see an increase in next week’s survey.”

The lower rates are spurring activity. Mortgage applications to purchase a home jumped 11 percent the week of September 11, and were 7 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Mortgage applications to refinance a home loan also rose, up 9 percent for that week.


Real Estate Today radio – America Rebuilds

Real Estate Today opens doors for buyers and sellers with critical and credible information on the real estate market. It’s fast paced and fact packed with experts, interviews, call-ins, field reports, and timely market conditions. The latest episode is America Rebuilds! It focuses on the recent hurricanes to hit the United States. Among the interviewees, Priyanka Johri:

Priyanka Johri is a Houston broker-owner – whose real estate office became a true shelter from the storm. Priyanka is the broker-owner of Woodlands Eco Realty, and board member of the Houston Association of REALTORS®, opened her office to anyone who need a place to sleep, or stay, as the floodwaters tore across Houston. Priyanka also rescued hundreds of animals – which makes sense, since she already has a charity called Pure Mutts – which rescued abandoned animals.


Realtors record another busy month in July

July was the busiest month in local real estate sales in almost a year, as buyers were undeterred by a brief spike in interest rates.

July 2017 sales graphicThose rates have since dropped to their lowest level so far this calendar year. At the same time, nationally, home prices are increasing as inventory tightens.

There were 204 homes worth $50.04 million sold locally in July, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks Realtor activity within Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

That was the busiest July in at least 10 years, with sales 15 percent higher than last July (177), and 10 percent higher than July 2007 (185).

It was also the busiest month overall since last October, when 244 homes were sold.

The average sold price in July – total value divided by total sales – was $248,594.

For the year, local Realtors have sold 1,091 homes worth a combined $271.22 million. That sales mark is 3.8 percent higher than this time last year.

Even with that activity inventory has remained consistent. In early July there were 2,428 active listings within the MLS. As of August 24 that number had decreased by just four, to 2,422.

Meanwhile interest rates have dropped to their lowest point of the year. As of August 24 the average 30-year fixed rate was 3.86 percent, as reported by loan giant Freddie Mac. The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.16 percent.

Those rates were 4.03 percent and 3.29 percent, respectively, on July 13.

To put the decrease in perspective, a $300,000 home purchased with a 30-year mortgage that week in July would have incurred a total estimated cost of $521,228 and a monthly payment of $1,448.

That same house purchased in late August would cost an estimated $506,930, with a monthly payment of $1,408. surveys what it classifies as experts in the mortgage field on their opinion regarding the direction of interest rates in the coming weeks. According to its August 23 report, 54 percent of its panel expects rates to remain relatively unchanged; 31 percent predict an increase.

Other national real estate trends include increased prices and steady demand. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median sold price for existing single-family home in the second quarter of 2017 was $255,600, the highest for any quarter since early 2016.

That occurred as national existing home inventory shrunk, from 2.11 million homes for sale at the end of June 2016 to 1.96 million homes for sale the end of June 2017.

“The 2.2 million net new jobs created over the past year generated significant interest in purchasing a home in what was an extremely competitive spring buying season,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Listings typically flew off the market in under a month – and even quicker in the affordable price range – in several parts of the country. With new supply not even coming close to keeping pace, price appreciation remained swift in most markets.”


Real Estate Today radio – Inventory!

Real Estate Today opens doors for buyers and sellers with critical and credible information on the real estate market. It’s fast paced and fact packed with experts, interviews, call-ins, field reports, and timely market conditions. The latest episode is Inventory! It explores what it means to sellers:

If you own a home, or if you’re planning on selling your home – low inventory is good news for you. The reason is, with lots of demand for homes – and not enough supply – prices just keep going up! The National Association of Realtors® says that in the past year alone, median prices have risen more than 6%.

For homeowners, that means the market value of your home is rising too. Even if you have no plans to sell, the value of your home is getting higher every year. That means that your equity is rising….and your LTV – your loan to value ratio is dropping.


HCAR River Clean Up in Todd

Several members of the High Country Association of Realtors®, and some of its affiliates, recently participated in a River Clean Up in Todd. The event was organized by the High Country Association of Realtors® and RiverGirl Fishing Company. It was held Tuesday, Aug. 1. The trailer load represented all of the materials removed from local waters.