After a soft June, High Country Realtors® were busy in July with sales jumping by over a third, hitting their best mark in nine months. At the same time the number of homes for sale hit a high for the year, mortgage rates were hitting a new low.  Realtors sold 125 homes worth $30.54 million last month, a 37 percent increase over the 91 homes sold in June and the most sold since 147 sold last October. The High Country Multiple Listing Service, tracking Realtor®-assisted sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties showed that the 125 homes sold are on par with July sales the previous two years - 127 homes sold in July 2013 and 125 in July 2012. Prior to that, the best July for sales was in 2008 with 124. Realtors say one difference is this year’s longstanding buyers’ market conditions, with the median sold price last month – the midway price point of all houses sold - $189,800—the lowest such price for any July since at least 2007. It’s also a 2.7 percent decline from July 2013 (195,000) and down 13.5 percent compared to July 2011 ($219,500). Coincidentally, Realtor® sales for the first seven months of this year match the sales for the same span in 2013 – 688 listings. Yet the total sales value this year is $154.59 million, compared to $168.51 million the year prior. Also driving the sales boost are sellers who continue to enter the market, with 3,278 properties listed within the MLS as of August 17, the most for any month this year.
2015 High Country Association of Realtors® president Pam Vines said “Having just come back from the National Association of Realtors® Leadership Summit in Chicago, we found the real estate forecast for next year to be very encouraging,” and she said, “The High Country Association is looking forward to this uptick in our market.” All local real estate sales were up for the month compared to last July, according to the READReport, which tracks Realtor® and non-Realtor® land sales in the three-county area. It reported 297 properties sold last month, up 8 percent from the 274 sold last July. The value increased 12 percent, from $45.58 million to $51.22 million.
Boosting buyers’ interest is the state of mortgage rates, which have recently declined. As of August 14 they were at a low for the year; 4.12 percent for a 30-year fixed, and 3.24 for a 15-year fixed.  A year ago those rates were slowly increasing. The 30-year fixed rate was at 4.40 percent in July 2013, eventually peaking at 4.57 percent in mid-September.
To put those numbers in perspective, since 1971 the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 8.52 percent. The current rate is half that, at 4.14 percent.