Local real estate activity continued its upward trend through September, with third quarter sales the best in several years. Growth continues to be driven by competitive interest rates, which remain below 4 percent. Inventory has slowly declined as the summer months fade. Realtors in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties sold 239 homes worth $65.94 million in September, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service. It was the most homes sold since August 2016 (241), and the highest total value for a month since last October ($66.63 million). It was also the busiest September in at least 10 years. Last year there were 227 homes sold in September, and just 200 in September 2015.