BOONE — The High Country Association of Realtors and its members continue to operate — at restricted levels — during the COVID-19 pandemic. As they work, Realtors are taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of themselves and their clients as they work together to buy and sell property in the four-county area.

According to the March 2020 Boone area real estate report from the HCAR, March real estate sales remained strong during the pandemic.

According to the report as of April 7, there were 256 High Country homes under contract. 

Inventory also increased slightly during March and there were 1,202 active home listings on the MLS as of April 7. There were approximately 1,140 a month earlier, according to the report.

In March, Realtors sold 176 homes worth $51.98 million, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. It records all transactions by Realtors operating in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

In Ashe County, according to the report, the number of homes sold for the quarter was up 17 percent compared to 2019. The median sold price for that span was up 21 percent.

Through March, Realtors sold 103 homes worth $26.11 million within county limits. The median sold price was $230,000 and in the first three months of 2019 there were 88 homes sold, worth a total of $19.78 million. According to the report, the median sold price was $190,500.

“During these challenging times it has become necessary to modify the ways we have traditionally gone about the business of real estate,” said Pam J. Vines, president of HCAR, which represents Realtors in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. “Buying and selling is continuing across our market for those with life changes such as job relocations, growing or downsizing families, and retirements, as well as investor activity.”

Under North Carolina’s Executive Order 121, most real estate activity is considered essential. It is allowed to continue if strict health and safety guidelines are followed.

“The Stay-at-Home Order issued by Governor Roy Cooper declares real estate services — including brokerage, appraisal and title services — to be essential services,” Vines said. “A strong housing market will lead the way to an economic recovery.”

Among the steps being taken by Realtors:

• Any Realtors or broker exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (including fever, coughing or shortness of breath) is staying quarantined and not participating in any face-to-face business.

• Realtors are not meeting with any clients who are exhibiting symptoms.

• Virtual tours of properties and online conferencing software are used as much as possible.

• If showing a property is a necessity, Realtors and clients are traveling to properties in separate vehicles and maintaining a minimum of six feet between persons.

• Limit showings to immediate family of buyers and observe the small group limitations.

• No one younger than the age of 18 years old should be permitted to attend showings.

• While touring a property, Realtors are wearing protective gloves and masks and asking the same of clients. They are sanitizing door handles, light switches, lockboxes, etc. Clients are asked to not touch anything in the home and to wash hands both on arrival and departure from home.

• No open houses are conducted or scheduled.

“Realtors are committed to keeping our families, our clients and our communities safe and healthy,” said Vines. 

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