First quarter realtor report

The local real estate market continues to do business, as house sales in the first quarter of 2019 increased for the ninth consecutive year, according to the monthly real estate report by the High County Association of Realtors.

Local realtors sold 473 homes valued at $141.4 million from January to March, as recorded in the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which tracks all realtor activity in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties, the HCAR monthly report said.

That was an increase of 6.5 percent compared to the first quarter of 2018, and up 19 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017, according to the report.

Sales have increased in the first quarter every year since 2010, when only 146 homes worth $37.17 million were sold, the report said.

Broken down by county, there were 246 homes worth $79.3 million sold within Watauga County during the quarter, while there were 88 homes worth $19.8 million sold in Ashe County, 63 worth $20.44 million in Avery County, and 35 worth $6.86 million in Alleghany County, according to the report.

“The median sold price for all homes sold by realtors in the first three months of the year was $230,000,” the report said.

County activity

First quarter sales within Alleghany were up 75 percent compared to the same time last year, with 35 homes sold in that span this year, compared to 20 homes sold last year, according to the report. Realtor sales within Alleghany were also up 45 percent compared to 2017, with a median sold price within the county of $175,000, the report said.

Ashe County also recorded growth, with first quarter sales up 15.8 percent from last year, according to the report.

Watauga County sales were up 9.8 percent from the previous year, and 23.6 percent from the first quarter of 2017, the report said.

Avery County sales were down, dropping 25 percent from last year, according to the report.

Luxury homes

In the first three months of the year, 13 High Country homes sold for more than $1 million, whereas there were 33 such homes sold during all of last year, and just three in the first three months of 2018, the report said.

This year’s activity was highlighted by a $5.1 million transaction in Avery County — that is the most expensive home ever purchased listed in the High Country MLS, according to the report.

For March

There were 184 homes worth $51.28 million sold by Realtors in March. That was a month-to-month increase of 24 percent from February, and a year-to-year increase of 3.4 percent from March 2018.

It was the busiest March for local Realtors in more than 13 years, as sales for the month have increased annually since 113 were sold in 2014. Prior to that, from 2006 to 2013, sales for the month averaged 95 homes.

All four counties recorded sales growth compared to last March, led by Watauga County with 101 homes sold.

March median

The median sold price in March — the midpoint price at which half of all homes sold either above or below — was $235,000. That was down from the $245,000 median sold price recorded for the region in February.

In Watauga County, the median sold price in March was $270,000. The median price in Ashe was $227,000 and in Avery $217,500.

Inventory

Inventory is starting to increase as the busy selling season begins. As of April 8 there were 1,466 active listings within the High Country MLS. That was an increase of almost a 100 from early March, however inventory remains tighter than it was this time last year. There were approximately 1,600 active listings last April.

Interest rates

The average 30-year mortgage rate continues its downward trend. The rate was 4.12 percent as of April 11, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. That’s down almost a full percentage point since mid-November, when the rate was 4.94 percent.

To put the decline in perspective, a $200,000 home purchased in mid-November would have an estimated monthly payment of $1,066, and a total estimated mortgage of $383,876.

That same house purchased today would have an estimated monthly payment of $964, and a total estimated mortgage of $347,068.

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