•Local market keeps up strength, based on latest house building snapshot•

More new homes sold in the first six months of this year than in the same period of pre-recession 2007 – yet another signal of a market rebound.

The comparative sales figures are among the highlights of the latest Charleston New Homes Snapshot: Observations and Trends.

“What a first half to 2013,” says Will Jenkinson, broker-in-charge of Carolina One New Homes and author of the quarterly snapshot.

Late last month, Jenkinson and research economist Joey Von Nessen pitched their second annual Charleston New Homes Market Update – unveiled at a local homebuilders meeting.

“There are lots of positive signs for the future of our industry; however, there is also a new set of challenges that we face as we enter the new market,” Jenkinson says. Visit www.hbacharleston.com for more on the market update.

Meanwhile, Jenkinson says the second quarter snapshot released this month looks at the top 15 communities in terms of home sales, the Charleston area’s permit activity and new home closings based on the various regions of the state.

For the report, Charleston-based consulting firm Real Estate Information Service Inc. compares closings from January-April of this year and the same period in 2012.

A full two-third, or 10 of 15 properties, are outperforming last year’s closing pace. Cane Bay posted the most activity at 68 closings.

“With the strong written sales numbers in the first half of 2013, we will see closings continuing to outpace last year,” Jenkinson says. “The total will be closer to 2007 levels once we close the books on 2013.”

REIS also tallied permit activity through June 19. Charleston County leads with more than 1,000 permits “issued largely due to the new growth in Mount Pleasant,” he says.

In 2012, permits topped more than 3,300 on an annual basis. “This is still far off from 2006 numbers; however, it has been a steady and consistent climb over the past 24 months,” Jenkinson says.

Charleston County listed 1,079 permits, or 63 percent; Berkeley County had 377 permits, 22 percent; and Dorchester County, granted 253 permits, or 15 percent.

The real estate information company also tracked new-home closings by region from January to April. The Charleston area placed first with 756 closings, followed by metro Columbia and then Greenville and Myrtle Beach with more than 400 apiece.

“Overall, this is a very healthy distribution and shows why our state is faring so well in the real estate recovery,” Jenkinson says.

•CoreLogic: Foreclosure rates decline in U.S, South Carolina•

The “shadow inventory” of mortgages thought to be headed for foreclosure is shrinking rapidly, based on figures from a national real estate analytics company.

CoreLogic says it compiled shadow inventory figures as part of its “national foreclosure report” for May.

According to the firm’s analysis, there were 52,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in May, down from 71,000 a year earlier. That amounts to a 27 percent decrease. In May compared with the previous month, completed foreclosures increased 3.5 percent from 50,000.

Completed foreclosures are cases in which owners actually lost their homes to lenders.

According to CoreLogic, the shadow inventory as of April dropped below 2 million residences, representing a 5.3 month supply. The inventory sank 34 percent from its peak of 3 million homes in 2010 and is off 18 percent from last year, when 2.4 million homes were distressed or in danger of foreclosure.

As of May, about 1 million homes in the U.S. were in some stage of foreclosure – a figure known as the foreclosure inventory. The total had declined 29 percent from 1.4 million homes a year earlier. Month over month, the foreclosure inventory dropped 3.3 percent.

The inventory through May made up 2.6 percent of all homes with a mortgage, compared with 3.5 percent a year earlier.

Separately, there are fewer than 2.3 million mortgages, or 5.6 percent, in serious delinquency as of May. Seriously delinquent loans are 90 days or more past due.

“The stock of seriously delinquent homes, which is the main driver of shadow inventory, is at the lowest level since December 2008,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Over the last year it has decreased in 42 states by double-digit figures, resulting in rapid declines in shadow inventory for the first quarter of 2013,” he says.

“We continue to see a sharp drop in foreclosures around the country and with it a decrease in the size of the shadow inventory,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive.

“Affordability, despite the rise in home prices over the past year, and consumer confidence are big contributors to these positive trends. We are particularly encouraged by the broad-based nature of the housing market recovery so far in 2013,” he says.

The highest number of completed foreclosures in the 12 months ending in May were in Florida at 103,000; California, 76,000; Michigan, 64,000; Texas, 51,000; and Georgia, 47,000.

South Carolina placed sixth highest in May in completed foreclosures among so-called “judicial states,” in which legal proceedings play a larger role in disposing of distressed cases. Its foreclosure inventory of 2.7 percent, off 0.8 percent from a year earlier, is just higher that the 2.6 percent national rate. The state’s 5.2 percent rate of seriously delinquent mortgages is below the national 5.6 percent rate, according to CoreLogic.

The shadow inventory value was $314 billion as of April, down from $386 billion a year earlier. CoreLogic says it estimates the current stock of properties in the shadow inventory by calculating the number of properties that are seriously delinquent, in foreclosure or held as real estate owned by mortgage servicers but aren’t listed on multiple listing services.

•Retirement magazine pegs Berkeley village to its list of top planned enclaves•

According to a nationwide seniors publication, Daniel Island ranks in the top group of large-scale communities that were planned out from their inception.

Where to Retire magazine selected the inland village among its “50 Best Master-Planned Communities in the U.S.” This is the fifth time the magazine picked out Daniel Island.

The biennial list of the country’s most livable planned communities appears in Where to Retire’s July-August issue.

The magazine staff conducts extensive research to select the more desirable communities, according to The Daniel Island Co. There are 17 states represented in the top 50.

The article highlights the island’s Tom Fazio- and Rees Jones-designed private golf courses, recreational offerings at the Family Circle Tennis Center and Blackbaud soccer stadium, boating and crabbing in the surrounding rivers and creeks, neighborhood parks, island shops and restaurants and its proximity to Charleston area medical facilities and to top notch arts and dining scene.

“Residents of the master-planned communities on Where to Retire’s Top 50 list speak of ‘a sense of belonging’ and ‘a wonderful lifestyle change,’” the article says.

“It’s no surprise that Daniel Island is consistently ranked on this list,” says Rick Vale, broker-in-charge at Daniel Island Real Estate. “Over and over we hear the same comments from our buyers of all ages about Daniel Island. People are attracted to the amenities, the island’s events and social activities and the fact that they’re living in a small town community,” he says. “They love the lifestyle that Daniel Island offers.”

According to Where to Retire publisher Karen Northridge, “The combination of amenities and social opportunities at each (top 50 community) produces a common result: the interesting, active and fulfilling lifestyle retirees seek.

“Clubhouses, fitness centers, social clubs and educational classes mean residents get much more than a house when they purchase in a planned community,” she says.

The Where to Retire article points to a renewed optimism about housing and the economy. It credits those factors as well as pent-up demand for a heightened interest in master planned communities.

To learn more, visit www.danielisland.com.

•Real estate sales veteran joins Carolina One in Summerville•

Born in New England and educated out west, Jon Franco made his way to metro Charleston six years ago and now has signed on with a local real estate brokerage.

Franco recently joined the Summerville Trolley Road office of Carolina One Real Estate as a sales associate, the company says.

Trolley Road office manager Brenda Jaicks calls Franco “a talented individual who comes to us with a great deal of experience in sales and marketing. I have every confidence that he will succeed in his newly chosen career,” she says.

Prior to launching a real estate career, Franco spent 10 years in pharmaceutical sales training and management and five years in business-to-business (B2B) copier sales.

Franco, a native of Bridgeport, Conn., graduated with honors from the University of Colorado with a degree in architecture. He moved to the Charleston area in 2007. Franco lives in Summerville with his wife Michelle and son Jay.

Carolina One Real Estate handled more than 30 percent of residential sales in greater Charleston as of June 30. For more information, visit the agency’s website at www.carolinaone.com.

•NAI Avant brings on new broker•

A Charleston native with experience in the commercial real estate field recently joined the local office of a statewide brokerage.

Derek Mathis joined the senior brokerage team at NAI Avant’s Charleston office. In his new post, he will focus on the industrial and office market segments.

According to the commercial real estate company, Mathis began in real estate in 2000 with a national commercial brokerage firm. While there, he specialized in land, investment and retail property deals throughout South Carolina. He represented owners, developers and tenants.

In 2007, Mathis joined Miller Valentine Group as a commercial developer. He worked with such companies as Home Depot, Husqvarna, Safran Labinal and Republic National Distributing Co.

For the past six years, Mathis acted as the lead team member for the development and construction of projects totaling more than $45 million in value. According to NAI Avant, his projects included industrial, medical, retail, mixed-use commercial and office development.

His background includes sales and marketing, development, financial, site selection, contract negotiation, economic incentive negotiation, construction team management and leasing.

Headquartered in Columbia, NAI Avant employs more than 65 professionals in comprehensive brokerage, leasing, development, property and project management services. Its commercial real estate business is one of the largest in the Southeast, the company says.

NAI Avant’s Property and Project Management Group manages a multimillion square foot portfolio of properties across South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

As a member of the NAI Global Network, the company has ties to more than 350 offices in 55 countries worldwide.To find out more about NAI Avant, visit www.naiavant.com.

•Local company to handle auction of two Seabrook Island properties•

After spot-on events earlier this year, Harper Auction & Realty says it has lined up another bidding process for two coastal resort properties not far from Charleston.

The Mount Pleasant-based real estate auction firm expects bidders on hand for an Aug. 10 “absolute” auction geared to sell two Seabrook Island properties.

According to broker-in-charge Mike Harper, the August event follows successful Harper auctions on Kiawah and Dewees islands.

“We have established a niche in selling barrier island properties up and down the coasts (of the Carolinas), having sold dozens of such properties over the past few years at places such as Figure Eight Island and Cape Carteret in North Carolina and Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s, Dewees, Kiawah and Seabrook islands in South Carolina,” says Harper, who is also principal auctioneer.

“Because we do only auctions, and because we know this market, we have been fortunate enough to control the lion’s share of these events,” he says.

“More sellers are recognizing that a well-marketed and -publicized auction allows them to sell quickly while allowing market competition to leave no money on the table,” Harper says. That’s particularly the case in a market that’s heating up, he says.

Another advantage of the Harper Auction & Realty events, he says, is the seller-friendly terms such as large nonrefundable deposits and no post-sale contingencies. They guarantee the seller a contract that will close on time, Harper says.

Once sellers realize what can be gained by the auction process, Harper explains, many are willing to give a little on that “dream price” in order to reap the benefits. Harper, meanwhile, cites remarks from Wendell Myers, recent seller of a Kiawah Island oceanfront condo.

“I was skeptical at first about selling at auction, but a friend of whom Mike had helped in North Carolina told me about his method, and his work ethic. His team met and exceeded my goals,” Harper quotes Myers as saying.

Features of the Seabrook Island auction are a lagoon-front home and a lakefront building lot, Harper says.

Both properties are offered as “absolute,” meaning to be sold to the highest bidder regardless of price, he says. An absolute auction, Harper says, is “a frightening, but very effective way to force the market into action.

“We all know that open competition will allow the market to seek its true level, but few sellers are willing to allow the market to produce the real price result,” Harper says.

Real estate auctions are not for everyone,” he says. “But if a seller is willing to trust the market and wants to sell quickly in order to save carrying costs, then it is the only way to set your sale date and move on.”

For more information, contact Harper at 843-729-4996 or mike@harperauctionandrealty.com.