By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

East Cooper’s largest community was ranked as the most thriving residential village near a city in South Carolina but didn’t crack the nationwide top 10.

That’s based on a countrywide ranking of suburbs by one of the larger real estate firms in the country.

Mount Pleasant placed No. 1 in the state in “Top Booming Suburbs in America,” compiled by Coldwell Banker Real Estate. The Madison, N.J.-based agency says it surveyed 1,500 communities nationwide.

Cottage Lake, Wash., emerged as top suburb in the United States and was one of four Seattle area communities in the survey’s top 10. Booming Suburbs is the final installment of the Coldwell Banker Best Places to Live series.

“As America continues to bounce back from the recession, this ranking identifies suburbs that have shown strong economic growth since the recovery,” says Budge Huskey, president and chief executive of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

The “Booming Suburbs” study rated communities on year-over-year levels in employment and jobless percentages, Coldwell Banker says. The real estate firm, which partnered with Onboard Informatics to compile the results, also looked at “a range of attributes” such as access to suburban staples — including grocery stores and banks — proximity to good schools, commuting by car and community safety.

“These communities have the American ideals we love, the suburban dream intact and a population that is finding jobs at a better rate than the national average,” says Huskey with Coldwell Banker. “That is the definition of a thriving community.”

Cottage Lake is 21 miles northeast of downtown Seattle. The towns of Sammamish and Mercer Island, both within a 30-minute commute, joined Cottage Lake in the top five. Baton Rouge suburb Prairieville, La., and Jacksonville suburb Fruit Cove, Fla., completed the top five.

Top suburbs in South Carolina’s neighbor states were Chapel Hill, N.C., and Evans, Ga., near Augusta.

The survey apparently didn’t base its suburban ratings on real estate prices and sales. But housing likely played an indirect role by contributing to economic growth, which helped Mount Pleasant land on the Coldwell Banker list.

According to the latest figures from Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, Mount Pleasant reported healthy gains in home prices and sales in the past year.

The Realtor group divides the East Cooper town into two geographical sections, Lower Mount Pleasant south of S.C. Highway 41 and Upper Mount Pleasant north of the highway.

Both sectors posted moderate year-to-year home price increases, surging sales and considerably shorter time-frames to sell homes.

Upper Mount Pleasant logged 308 single-family house sales from Jan. 1 through May, up 23.7 percent from 249 deals in the first five months of 2012. The median sales price rose 4.8 percent to $359,000 from $343,000 through the same period last year. Plus, homes typically stayed on the market 79 days this May, down 11 percent from 89 days a year ago.

Similarly, lower Mount Pleasant counted 318 sales, up 34.2 percent from a year before; and tallied a $384,000 median sale price, 7 percent higher than $359,000 in May 2012. Homes stayed on the market 68 days, down a whopping 24.2 percent from 90 days a year before.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.