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Source: High Country Association of Realtors

Originally published: 2013-03-21 17:16:32
Last modified: 2013-03-21 17:16:32

Realtors: Sales increase, prices stagnant

by Anna Oakes

Local real estate agents are enjoying a busy start to 2013, with sales through the first two months of the year the highest in that span since 2008, according to the High Country Association of Realtors. Yet the demand has yet to result in increased prices, the association noted.

There were 146 realtor-assisted sales in January and February, a 22 percent increase over the first two months of 2012, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. The MLS records realtor-assisted sales in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

Total sales value was up only 2.6 percent, from $30.86 million to $31.67 million. Yet the median sold price for that period decreased, from $227,500 last year to $197,500 so far in 2013.

"It's great to see that the activity in our market is picking up a little," said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of the association. "The median sale price has decreased again. This median price, added to the market activity, shows a true picture of our High Country real estate market."

In February there were 82 realtor-assisted sales worth $16.5 million. It's the best second month of sales since 2008, when 90 homes worth $24.5 million were sold.

The bottom of that span was February 2010, when just 34 listings worth $7.69 million sold.

February's median sale price of $184,000 broke a string of three consecutive months of plus-$200,000 median prices, however.

"With both warmer weather and buyers continuing to come to the High Country, we are hopeful that the market will continue to improve," said Phillips.

According to the MLS, the average days on the market for a home sold in February was 228. That's the fastest pace for sales since August last year, when homes sold in an average of 211 days.

The MLS added 218 new listings last month, down from the 244 added in January.

The READReport, which records all real estate transactions in the High Country, both private and realtor-assisted, reported sales of $48.2 million for February. That was a 12 percent decline from February 2012, when $55.02 million worth of real estate was sold.

Nationally, it appears a sellers market is developing. Existing home sales were up in January, with prices continuing to rise above year-ago levels. Sales rose in every region but the West, which is the region most constrained by limited inventory, according to the National Association of Realtors.

"Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We've transitioned into a seller's market in much of the country."