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High Country housing market sees substantial gains

Article Published: Mar. 15, 2012 | Modified: Mar. 15, 2012

After three consecutive years of declines, the High Country housing market recorded substantial gains in 2011, with the average price of homes sold hitting a three-year high.

According to the High Country Association of Realtors, which covers Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties, the average price of a home sold last year was $261,512. That’s a 3 percent increase in the average recorded in 2010 ($253,967) and just surpasses the average set in 2009 ($260,604), according to the association.

It is also the largest year-to-year increase since 2005. The 2011 numbers indicate that the High Country real estate market may be poised for growth, or at least stability, in the coming year.

In 2006, the average price of a home sold in the High Country was $307,256. Then the national economy went into recession, due in large part to the subprime lending implosion. The High Country was not exempt. The average price of a home sold dropped for three straight years, falling 2.2 percent in 2008 and 6.7 percent in 2009. It went down another 4.8 percent in 2010, when the average price hit $253,967, according to Laurie Phillips, executive officer of the High Country Association of Realtors.

Last year, not only was the average price up, but also the number of homes sold increased 8 percent, from 938 to 1,014. There were eight consecutive months of increased home sales, from 34 homes sold in February to a year-high 91 in September. Sales slowed going into the winter, but remained above the February mark, she said.

The number of homes purchased with cash also increased last year, to 41 percent. It was 34 percent in 2006, before the recession began.

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