As interest rates continued to flirt with hitting 4 percent, home buyers in the High Country remained unperturbed.
October was another busy month for home sales. Realtors® in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties continued to see steady business through the end of the summer season into fall.
For the month, there were 233 homes worth $66.78 million sold by Realtors® in the four-county area, as recorded by the High Country Multiple Listing Service. The average price for the month – total value divided by total sales – was $286,593, a high for the year.
With two months remaining in 2017, local Realtors® are slightly ahead of last year’s sales pace, 1,785 to 1,763. That’s a 1.2 percent increase year over year. With regard to value, Realtors have this year so far sold $461.47 million in property, up 5.8 percent from the first 10 months of 2016.
If trends continue, 2017 will extend to seven the number of consecutive years sales have increased year-to-year. In 2010, local Realtors sold 939 homes total.
Inventory levels are down to where they were in April. As of November 18, there were 2,036 active listings within the MLS, down from the year high of about 2,430 in mid-August.
As sales have remained steady, interest rates have slowly climbed. As of November 16, the 30-year fixed rate was 3.95 percent, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. The rate peaked at 4.3 percent in mid-March, and steadily fell to 3.78 percent by mid-August. It’s been trending upward since.
A year ago the rate jumped from 3.57 percent to 3.97 percent a week after the election (November 17).
The 15-year fixed rate is 3.31 percent.
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that half of the experts it surveyed say rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week.
Nationally, inventory remains tight and activity muted due to hurricanes earlier this year. For September, the most recent month in which national statistics are available, existing home sales were up .7 percent. That was the second smallest month-to-month growth of the year, and below the 1.5 percent increase from August to September 2016.
“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist. “Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $245,100, up 4.2 percent from September 2016 ($235,200).
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.
Realtors® 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 Bankrate.com.
Bankrate.com, 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bankrate.com 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.”
Midway through 2017 local real estate sales are slightly ahead of last year’s pace, according to the latest report by the High Country Association of Realtors.
The summer selling season hasn’t been as frantic as last year, but inventory is expanding. New sellers continue to enter the market, reflecting a national survey which shows strong sentiment that now is a good time to sell.
Through June, local Realtors sold 886 homes this year, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which tracks Realtor sales in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That’s the most homes sold in that six-month span in more than 10 years.
It’s 1 percent more than this time in 2016, when 874 homes had sold. It’s also higher than in 2007, when 836 homes were sold prior to the national housing market collapse.
With regard to the summer selling season, local Realtors sold 356 listings in May and June, a 9 percent decline from last year, when 390 homes were sold in that span.
Total sales value for the year so far was $221.62 million, with an average sale price of $250,247.
In June alone, local Realtors sold 187 listings worth $50.23 million.
Inventory has expanded. There were 2,480 active listings in the MLS as of July 27. That’s well below this time last year (2,975) and the year prior (3,104), but a 4 percent increase from mid-June when 2,330 homes were for sale.
Interest rates have long attracted buyers. The 30-year rate had declined since the start of the year, and dropped to 3.88 percent on June 29. It rebounded in mid-July, when it averaged 4.03, according to loan giant Freddie Mac.
That was the first time since May the 30-year rate surpassed 4 percent. It has since declined. As of July 27 the 30-year average rate was 3.92 percent. The 15-year average rate is 3.2 percent.
A year ago both rates were 3.48 percent and 2.78 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released its quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey. It reported that 71 percent of homeowners think now is a good time to sell, which is up from last quarter (69 percent) and considerably more than a year ago (61 percent).
This is despite declining inventory nationally, compared to this time last year.
“There are just not enough homeowners deciding to sell because they’re either content where they are, holding off until they build more equity, or hesitant seeing as it will be difficult to find an affordable home to buy,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “As a result, inventory conditions have worsened and are restricting sales from breaking out while contributing to price appreciation that remains far above income growth.”
According to the survey, 80 percent of homeowners (unchanged from last quarter and a year ago) think now is a good time to make a home purchase.
As the traditionally busy summer season begins, the local real estate market seems poised for another strong quarter.
Sales since January are slightly outpacing last year, up more than 4 percent. Meanwhile interest rates are at their lowest point of the year, and local inventory is growing.
Through the first five months of 2017, local Realtors® sold 687 homes, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It records activity by the High Country Association of Realtors®, which represents licensed real estate professionals within Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.
Last year in that span local Realtors® sold 660 homes.
Some of this year’s growth in sales can be traced to homes priced above $300,000. While the number of homes sold for less are stable year-over-year – 499 to 504 – the number of listings selling for more than $300,000 is up 17 percent.
On a monthly basis, local Realtors® sold 163 listings in May, down from 179 in May 2016. The average sold price for the month – the total value divided by listings sold – was up; $246,561 this year last May compared to $230,329 last year.
May sales extended to 27 the number of consecutive months Realtors® have sold more than 100 listings.
Sellers continue to enter the market. As of June 8 there were 2,356 active listings within the MLS. That’s 300 more than in early April, but well below the 2,870 that were active last June.
Nationally, interest rates have steadily fallen since spiking at the end of 2016. According to loan giant Freddie Mac, the average 30-year mortgage rate as of June 8 was 3.89 percent. That was only the fourth week this year it’s been below 4 percent.
The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.16 percent.
The year started with the 30-year average rate at 4.2 percent. To give the decline since perspective, a $250,000 home purchased at the start of the year would have cost a total of $440,115, with a monthly payment of $1,223.
That same home purchased this week would cost an estimated $423,986 with a monthly payment around $1,178.
Nationally, home sales have slowed. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) latest sales report showed sales in March and April below last year’s activity. Low inventory was one of the causes.
“Much of the country for the second straight month saw a pullback in pending sales as the rate of new listings continues to lag the quicker pace of homes coming off the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Realtors® are indicating that foot traffic is higher than a year ago, but it’s obviously not translating to more sales.”