Real estate report: June sales strong as interest rates rise



Article Published: Aug. 1, 2013 | Modified: Aug. 1, 2013

Thanks to their strongest month in almost a year, local real estate sales are ahead of the pace set last year at this time.

Yet median sale prices have decreased, indicating buyers’ market conditions continue, according to the High Country Association of Realtors.

There were 126 homes worth $35.16 million sold in June, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which tracks Realtor-assisted sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

According to HCAR, that’s the best month of sales since August 2012, when 142 homes worth $34.13 million sold. It’s also the first time monthly sales surpassed $35 million since October 2008, when 118 homes sold for $35.38 million.

The median sold price for the month was $193,750, the highest since February.

“With interest rates slowly rising, our Realtor members are seeing an increase in buyers hoping to get into a High Country home now, while rates are still low,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors.

June’s sales helped boost the first half of 2013 just past 2012 levels.

Through the first six months of the year, 555 homes were sold worth $137.4 million, in what the association is calling the best start to a year since 2008, when 614 homes sold for $186.5 million. It’s also just ahead of last year’s pace, when 551 homes sold for $137.01 million.

Buyers’ market conditions continue, reflected in a six-month median sold price of $189,000 — a 5-percent decline from last year ($199,900) and the lowest median sold price in that span in at least seven years.

Since January, 2,204 homes have been added to the market. Nationally, mortgage rates have slowly started to increase, but still remain well below historic levels, the association reports, adding that many analysts expect increased activity in the home market, as buyers rush to complete sales prior to another change in the rate.

According to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., the average rate nationwide for a 30-year mortgage recently jumped to 4.46 percent from 3.93 percent — the biggest one-week increase since 1987 and the highest rate since July 2011. The rate has since decreased slightly, to 4.29 percent, as of July 5.

While higher compared to recent years, mortgage interest rates in the 4-percent range were unheard of until 2010, and rates in the 5-percent range were unknown prior to 2003, according to Bankrate.com.

In 2008, rates were more than 6 percent.

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