March home sales by county

CHARLESTON COUNTY

635 sales at a median price of $245,037. Of those, 210 sales were in Mount Pleasant. West Ashley outside I-526 was the next-most-active area.

BERKELEY COUNTY

191 homes sold at a median price of $166,400. The area bordered by Jedburg Road, Highway 17A and College Park Road was the most active.

DORCHESTER COUNTY

184 homes sold at a median price of $162,500. The Summerville/Ladson area was the most active.

Charleston Trident Association of Realtors

March home sales in the Charleston area broke through the four-figure mark for the first time in five years last month, though the early jump in spring activity is expected to taper off.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors said Wednesday that 1,045 homes sold at a median price of $202,210 in March. The last time sales for that month exceeded 1,000 was in 2007, the group said in a preliminary report.

Owen Tyler, the association’s president, said it was “unusual to see this many closed transactions” so early in the busy spring home-buying season. He pinned the growth in part on investor buyers.

“While we do expect sales levels to remain higher than they were in previous years, we do not expect sales to sustain at this level through the spring,” Tyler said.

He added that it is more common to see home sales above the 1,000 mark in the later part of the spring and in summer. The last time they hit that level was in May, June and August of 2012.

For the first quarter, 2,424 homes have sold in the region, a 16 percent increase in sales volume compared to first three months of 2012. The median price of $182,500 is up 1.5 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

The local housing market is getting help from low mortgage rates and lower home prices compared with past years, though both are edging higher. Local job growth also is giving sales a lift.

Much of the activity remains concentrated in Charleston County, which had 635 sales in March, or more than half of the total. Its hottest markets continue to be Mount Pleasant and West Ashley, according to the association.

Real estate inventory also is declining. As of Wednesday, 5,745 homes were for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service database, about 1,000 less a year ago. Strong demand and low inventory have prompted repeated situations in which buyers find multiple offers on homes, according to area agents. Corwyn Melette, broker-in-charge of Corwyn Melette and Associates, said he is consistently running into that situation.

“There’s a lot activity, but the inventory does not match up, which makes things very competitive,” Melette said. “I recently had one buyer who got beat out on two homes in a single day.”

Melette, who largely concentrates on homes in North Charleston and Summerville, has advised clients to move fast if they can.

“Nothing is staying on the market now, not even rentals,” Melette said.

Also, the association revised its February figures slightly higher to reflect 732 sales and a median price of $181,750.