In the past decade, the real estate economy seems to have traveled like Star Trek, “where no man has gone before.”

Buyers and sellers were whipsawed as housing prices and sales rode to record peaks in 2007-8, spiraled downward for much of four years, bottomed out, then moved up for the last year-to-18-months or so.

But there are indications the housing outlook will moderate soon, leaving the market in uncharted waters.

In terms of greater Charleston’s new homes market, the picture should clear by the middle of next year as builders, agents and customers see a more balanced portrait.

“Overall, our local new homes market continues to post impressive numbers; however, (we) are starting to see the signs of a slow down with the number of available finished lots declining,” says Will Jenkinson, broker-in-charge of Carolina One New Homes.

Jenkinson made the remarks in the Charleston New Homes Snapshot, now in its second year. The new homes division teams with Charleston-based Real Estate Information Services to compile findings every quarter.

“Everyone is in the same boat identifying and developing new opportunities that will come on line mid-year 2014,” Jenkinson says.

The broker zeroes in on permit and home closing activity this quarter as well as takes a closer look at new home sales by county.

According to a graphic provided by the real estate service, more than 2,500 single family permits were issued in greater Charleston in the past year through August, up 18 percent from the same period in 2012. “Typically, strong permit activity is a good sign that builder confidence is increasing in the market,” Jenkinson says. “This is always a strong indicator of the future, and it seems positive,” he says.

A second economic indicator plotted by the information service found an upward trend in new-home closings through August of this year. Real estate closings on newly built homes rose 14 percent to 279 in June, outpacing the prior year, Jenkinson says.

At the same time, activity by the top 10 builders in the Charleston area by volume grew 18 percent compared with the same time period last year. A full 90 percent, or nine of 10, posted high closing figures this year, the report showed. “Again, another positive indicator for our local market,” he says.

Meanwhile, a look at home closings by county revealed a shift in the location ofh transactions.

Real Estate Information Service made a surprising find, according to Jenkinson. The largest section by population, Charleston County, typically trails in new-home construction. But in the third quarter, home closings “jumped from last to first for the first time in years with 44 percent of the new home closings occurring in (Charleston County). With the solid production in West Ashley and future developments on Johns Island and Mount Pleasant, we will see the trend continue at least in the short term,” Jenkinson says.

For more information on the new-homes figures or the residential report, contact Jenkinson at wjenkinson@carolinaone,com or Foster at bfoster@reisonline.com.

Foster, a sales and research consultant, also can be reached at 843-297-7182 or via mobile at 843-723-8682. Jenkinson also can be found at 843-202-2023.

Incidentally, the broker apologized for the snapshot appearing a month later than usual. He had a good excuse. “I have been busy welcoming my twins to this world. Everyone is home and doing well,” he says.

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