Home buyers voting with their feet in Charleston region, and that's a good thing
Home sales continue to improve, as demonstrated last week by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors market report for May.
But what's ahead?
Foot traffic, also known as home showings, offers an indication of future sales.
For May, there were 30,364 showings at 8,337 properties, the association reported. That's up nearly 17 percent compared to the 26,040 showings for 8,308 properties a year ago. Spokeswoman Meghan Byrnes Weinreich said the uptick in foot traffic suggests the region should continue to show improvement in seasonal sales.
“This shows that buyers are out there and being very active in the marketplace,” she said.
The number also could keep rising since it's the busy home-buying season. Also, it's likely there are more anxious prospective buyers on the hunt since mortgage rates and home prices continue to climb.
The association's research data shows that the local market continues to shift in favor of sellers. Home inventory in May fell below the six-month supply threshold, which is what experts consider an ideal balance. The last time that happened was in 2006.
Not as negative
The number of homeowners in the Charleston region who owe more than their properties are worth has dropped compared to the last three months of 2012, according to a report released last week.
In the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville area, 23,737 residential properties with a mortgage, or 16.3 percent of the total, were classified as underwater, or in negative equity, for the first quarter. That's down from 27,961, or 19.1 percent, that were upside down in the previous three months, according to real estate information firm CoreLogic.
The CoreLogic report says another 8,362 area residences, or 5.7 percent, were nearing negative equity territory, down from 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Negative equity is a product of declining real estate values, rising mortgage balances or both.
The rebound in home prices has eased the problem, both locally and nationally.
“The impressive home price gains of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 have had a big impact on the distribution of residential home equity,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.