After four years of incremental sales growth, the High Country real estate market is showing signs of slowing.
Through the first six months of the year, realtor-assisted sales are down 3.3 percent compared to the year prior, and down 2 percent compared to the first half of 2012.
Median sold prices – the midway price point of all houses sold – are also declining. They are down 5 percent from the first half of 2013, and 10 percent from that span in 2012.
Those declines are occurring as supply is expanding. There are currently more than 3,240 homes for sale within the High Country Multiple Listing Service, which records realtor activity in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That’s a 26 percent increase compared to the 2,571 listings active last August.
These trends are reflected in the latest READReport, which tracks all real estate transactions in the High Country, including land and commercial lots. Total sales declined 4.6 percent year to date. The total value of those sales was down 4 percent.
Buyers are still looking, and there are a lot of opportunities to explore. Interest rates also continue to be favorable to buyers. Rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.15 percent as of July 10, according to Freddie Mac. A year ago, rates averaged 4.51 percent.
“With the current high inventory, our realtor association has teamed up with the High Country Host to reach potential buyers interested in coming to our area,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors. “This campaign will encourage residents from surrounding states to visit the High Country by highlighting our unique natural beauty.”
Realtors sold 91 homes last month, making it one of the slowest Junes in recent history. Since 2009 an average of 107 homes have been sold in that month, with only the 89 sold in 2011 below this year’s mark. There were 128 homes sold in June 2013.
The median sold price last month was $190,000, the second highest recorded this year. That’s down slightly from last June, when the median sold price was $193,750.
The READReport also reported decreased activity for June. There were 261 sales for the month, compared to 297 a year ago. Total value was down 16 percent, $45.03 million from $53.88 million.
Nationally some analysts are expecting the housing market to slow. Wells Fargo released a report July 10 which stated that, despite a strong May, home sales for the year are trailing the pace in 2013. “Even with the recent stronger data, the housing recovery remains well short of where it was expected to be,” the report said.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, speaking to the Senate Banking Committee July 15, said, “We see in the housing market where we had some progress but it now looks like it’s stalled.”
Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, made similar comments in late June. While noting a surge in realtor sales in May, he cautioned, “second-half sales growth won’t be enough to compensate for the sluggish first quarter and will likely fall below last year’s total.”