County breakdowns

Charleston County 5,987 homes sold, up 20% from 2011. Median price: $228,000, up 3.6% from 2011. Berkeley County2,299 homes sold, up 3% from 2011. Median price: $167,500, up 3% from 2011. Dorchester County1,930 homes sold, up 8% from 2011.Median price: $167,500, up 4.7% from 2011. Charleston Trident Association of Realtors

Last year marked the strongest 12-month stretch of home sales in the Lowcountry since the housing crisis sent the industry into a tailspin, according to a new report.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors said Thursday that 10,574 homes changed hands in 2012, the largest volume of home sales in the region of Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties since 12,921 homes were sold in 2007.

The region’s median price climbed to $190,065 last year, nearly 5 percent higher than 2011. It remained about 9 percent off the comparable figure of $207,850 for 2007. Owen Tyler, the association’s president, said sales exceeded expectations last year, and there is optimism for 2013.

His sentiments were echoed by Dave Sansom. Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service president, who tied the rising home sales volume in part to the rising population in the region and strong local economic underpinnings.

“While we don’t expect, or want, to see unsustainable major growth on the pricing side, we do expect that 2013 will be another strong year for the Charleston real estate market as our local economy continues to strengthen and grow,” Sansom said.

Charleston County had the biggest sales jump in the region, with 5,987 homes changing hands last year, up 20 percent from 2011.

Realtors have said lower prices and mortgage rates compared to years ago continue to drive sales.

Other highlights of 2012 included a pronounced drop in the number of listed homes.

There were 5,420 properties displayed as for sale in the local Multiple Listing Service as of Thursday, compared to the 7,000 at the end of 2011, the association reported.

The inventory has been thinned to roughly a six-month supply, a level experts consider an ideal balance.

Some area agents have said the dwindling inventory is giving sellers an edge over buyers.

The falling supply has helped jump-start several stalled new-home developments, including the 4,300-acre Carnes Crossroads in Goose Creek and Carolina Park near the north end of Mount Pleasant.

The year closed on a strong note, with 894 homes selling at a median price of $200,000 in December. That compared to 785 sales at a median price of $186,050 a year earlier.

Also Thursday, the association revised its sales data slightly higher for November to show 849 homes sold for a median price of $192,500.