Charleston region’s home sales up 22% at midyear point, report says

Lowcountry home sales volume climbed at a double-digit pace through the first six months of 2013, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Breakdown

Charleston County: 752 homes sold at a median price of $255,500 in June, up from 627 sales at a median of $239,390 in June 2012.

Berkeley County: 281 sales at a median of $189,000, up from 208 sales at a median of $164,300 in June 2012.

Dorchester County: 249 sales at a median of $179,000, up from 182 sales at a median of $157,500 in June 2012.

Source: Charleston Trident Association of Realtors

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors said 6,117 homes changed in the region at a median price of $200,440 for the January-to-June period.

That’s a 22 percent increase in sales and a 10 percent increase in median price compared to the first half of 2012.

For the month of June, volume remained robust. The association reported that 1,314 homes sold at a median price of $219,340, respective gains of 24 percent and 10 percent from a year ago. Housing experts have pinpointed the sales volume to demand. Lower prices and cheap mortgage rates also have helped.

“While more than half of the transactions are being conventionally financed, nearly a quarter of homes are being paid for in cash, which indicates a healthy mix of traditional buyers and professional investors purchasing homes in our market” said Owen Tyler, president of the association.

A drop in inventory in the Multiple Listing Service is putting upward pressure on prices. As of Wednesday, 5,655 homes were classified as being actively for sale in the database, down 10 percent from the same day in 2012, officials said.

The association’s midyear sales report comes in the midst of growing concerns that rising interest rates could either push more purchasers off the fence or undermine buying plans completely.

After a steady climb in recent months, the 30-year fixed-rate average mortgage last week edged down to 4.29 percent. Last year at that time, the 30-year rate averaged 3.62 percent, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

The rising rates has been tied in-part to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently disclosed plans to wean the central bank off a bond-buying program that have kept rates low.

According to a widely used metric, every one percentage point increase in mortgage interest adds 10 percent to the cost of a home.

“Interest and activity among prospective buyers is still very strong and doesn’t appear to have been negatively impacted by the recent adjustments in mortgage rates,” Tyler said. “However, it’s still fairly early to make a clear assessment on how much the recent rate changes will affect the Charleston market.”

The group also revised its May sales figure slightly higher to reflect 1,291 transactions. The updated median price increased slightly to $213,000.



Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.

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