Realtors hit new sales mark in 2017


Realtors hit new sales mark in 2017

Busy was the theme for local Realtors as 2017 drew to a close.

Area real estate professionals posted annual sales growth for the eighth consecutive year, thanks to the busiest December in at least a decade.

The hectic activity dropped inventory to its lowest level in years, as recorded within the High County Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It tracks Realtor activity in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

The year ended with Realtors having sold 2,176 homes worth $562.51 million. That was just a 2 percent increase from 2016 (2,135), but up 27 percent from 2015 (1,710) and 48 percent from 2014 (1,474).

Annual sales have increased every year since 2010, when Realtors sold 945 homes worth $240.79 million. Prior to 2011, sales declined every year since 2006.

The average sale price for 2017 – total sales divided by home sold – was $259,814. That was the highest such mark for a year since 2009 ($260,830).

Almost half of 2017 sales occurred in the year’s final five months. From August to December, 1,081 homes were sold by Realtors in the four-county area.

The final month of the year ended with snow and a strong cold snap, but business remained brisk. Local Realtors sold 199 homes worth $51.96 million in December, the highest sales recorded that month since at least 2007. It was an 11 percent increase compared to sales in December 2016 (180) and a 27 percent increase compared to December 2015 (157).

The average sale price for the month was $261,101.

Buyers looking to start the New Year with a new home will encounter rising interest rates. Rates have been trending up since mid-September, though they remain just barely under 4 percent.

As of January 11, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.99 percent, as reported by loan giant Freddie Mac. That was up from 3.95 percent the previous week.

The average 15-year fix rate was 3.44 percent.

Although interest rates have been increasing, coincidentally, they are roughly at the same point they were exactly two years ago. During the second week of 2016, the average 30-year fixed rate was 3.92 percent. The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.19 percent. Rates steadily dropped throughout the year until the US Presidential election in November.

As Realtors begin 2018, local inventory is at its lowest levels in years. As of January 11, there were 1,623 homes for sale within the High Country MLS. That’s more than 200 fewer than this time last year (1,890), and more than 500 fewer than January 2016 (2,135).

Local and national trends indicate 2018 could be another busy year and local Realtors are ready for it, according to High Country Association of Realtors 2018 President Chad Vincent.


Housing inventory low as sales remain strong

With one month remaining in the calendar year, local Realtors® are poised to see sales growth for a seventh consecutive year. It’s been so busy, local inventory is near a three-year low.

Sales in November mirrored those of a year prior, according to the High Country Multiple listing Service (MLS), which tracks Realtor® sales in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Interest rates, which have fluctuated for months, have held steady since October.

Local Realtors® sold 190 homes worth $53.67 million in November, according to the MLS. The average sold price – total value divided by homes sold – was $282,499.

The average sold price was just a tad lower than that recorded in October ($282,676), though total sales month-to-month declined 19 percent (234 to 190). That mirrored what happened a year ago, when sales declined month-to-month by 21 percent (244 to 192).

For the year, local Realtors® have sold 1,975 homes worth $513.36 million. That’s above last year at this time, when they sold 1,955 worth $480.32 million.

The activity has impacted inventory. As of December 17, there were 1,891 active listings within the MLS. That is similar to levels recorded in January. From 2014 to 2016, inventory never dropped below 2,000.

Local inventory trends are similar to what is being recorded nationally. The latest housing report by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said that, while sales increased in October at the strongest pace seen in months, continued supply shortages led to fewer closings.

“While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Yun indicated that the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are still being seen in Texas and Florida, but “sales should completely bounce back to their pre-storm levels by the end of the year, as demand for buying in these areas was very strong before the storms.”

Interest rates remain attractive to buyers. The average 30-year fixed rate has held steady since late October at 3.9 percent. As of December 14, it was 3.93 percent, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. It was 4.16 percent a year ago.

The average 15-year fixed rate was 3.36 percent. It was 3.37 percent a year ago.

The day prior to the latest interest rates being announced, the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates for the third time this year. According to a Freddie Mac release, “The market had already priced in the rate hike, so long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, hardly moved.”

Nonetheless, some analysts expect the Fed’s rate hike to eventually push the rate on 30-year fixed mortgages past the 4 percent mark.



Call to action: Be heard on tax reform

From the National Association of Realtors:

This is a critical week for tax reform and, with our new Call for Action, we need you to reach out to your member of Congress.

Thanks to your engagement, REALTORS® have already helped positively influence tax reform in some key areas. For example, both the House and Senate have agreed to maintain deductibility of state and local property taxes up to $10,000, and to maintain Section 1031 tax-deferred exchanges in their present form for real estate investments.

BUT OUR WORK IS NOT DONE. We have an opportunity to influence Congress to help make the tax reform bill more favorable to homeowners and consumers.

What’s Next?
Now that both the House and Senate have passed The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, a Conference Committee will begin to address the differences between the two bills. Important improvements in the legislation are possible by encouraging Congress maintain the current law for the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains.  Congress can also address the State and Local Tax Deductibility issue by expanding the provision to include income taxes, raising the cap and indexing the cap to inflation.  These changes and retaining the current law makes the bill more favorable to homeownership. Learn more about tax reform.

It is not too late to influence Congress on tax reform. Here is how you can have an impact!


Annual Realtor sales on pace for another growth year

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., 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).


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.