ashe county real estateWEST JEFFERSON — This summer was a big selling season for real estate agents, in both Ashe County and the High Country overall. “Every agent I’ve spoken to in Ashe County says they’ve been very busy,” said Julie Townsend, owner of Julie Townsend Real Estate Services. “I think the real estate market is pretty strong right now.”

Townsend has been a licensed real estate agent since 1984, and seen a wide array of market scenarios over the years.

According to Townsend, Ashe County is primarily a “second home” market, with many buyers interested in purchasing a mountain getaway. Retirees looking for a peaceful mountain home are also primary buyers in Ashe County. Despite prices increasing for some homes, Townsend doesn’t believe this growth will lead to higher prices for lower end buyers, such as first-time home buyers.
“Houses that have been on the market for a while are getting sold,” Townsend said. “I don’t think prices will go up for first-time buyers right now, because we have low interest rates.”

The following is a snapshot of Ashe County’s real estate market for September:
Total New Listings: 18
Median Sold Price: $175,475
Average Sold Price: $182,529
Average Days on Market: 215
Sold Dollar Volume – Residential: $2,190,350
Sold Dollar Volume – Other: $0
Home Sales Sold Dollar Volume: $2,190,350

Real estate is up across the High Country as well. According to the High Country Realtor Report, sales continued at a strong pace as prices attracted buyers to the market. And, as has been the case for most of the year, interest rates remained near historic lows. There were 216 homes worth $53.57 million sold in September, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which records all realtor activity in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. “That’s a 9 percent increase in sales compared to last September, the most active month of 2015,” said the report. “It was also the third time in the past four months Realtors® sold more than 200 listings.” With three months remaining in the calendar year, local realtors have sold 1,499 homes. That’s 20 percent more than were sold in the same nine-month period last year (1,254), and more than was sold total in year 2014 (1,470). The median sold price in September, the midpoint of all sales, was $191,500. That was the lowest since February ($175,000). As of Oct. 9, there were 2,722 listings active in the High Country MLS. Inventory is down about 8.5 percent since its peak in mid-July, and on par with levels recorded in mid-May.

While sales remain strong, interest rates have fallen and are near historic lows. As of Oct. 6, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.47 percent, according to Freddie Mac.
A year ago, the 30-year rate averaged 3.82 percent. To put the decline in perspective, a $300,000 home purchased a year ago would have an estimated $504,464 mortgage and a $1,401 monthly payment.

That same house today, at the current rate, would have a $483,161 mortgage and $1,342 monthly payment. The 15-year fixed rate now is 2.76 percent, down from 3.03 percent a year ago.
While rates are low, national realtor sales are declining. In August, the last month in which national statistics are available, sales declined .9 percent. Only the northeast recorded an increase in existing-home sales. “There’s no question that after peaking in June, sales in a majority of the country have inched backwards because inventory isn’t picking up to tame price growth and replace what’s being quickly sold,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors®. The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $240,200, up 5.1 percent from August 2015 ($228,500).

The above article is from the Oct. 20, 2016 online edition of the Ashe Mountain Times. The article is available at this link:   Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2016 4:30 pm  By James Howell

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