October home sales by county

Charleston County

A total 566 homes sold at a median price of $288,147. West Ashley, outside Interstate 526, was the most active area during the month with 80 sales at a median price of $197,219.

Berkeley County

A total of 227 homes sold at a median price of $171,090. The most active area in the county was the area bordered by Jedburg Road, Highway 17A and College Park, with 60 sales at a median price of $160,915.

Dorchester County

A total of 188 homes sold at a median price of $162,500. The most active area was Summerville/Ridgeville, where 80 homes sold at a median price of $163,750.

Source: Charleston Trident Association of Realtors

The Lowcountry recorded double-digit home sales growth in October, despite fears that the federal government shutdown could hold up purchases, according to a report released Monday.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors reported 1,020 homes sold at a median price of $190,000 in October. That’s up nearly 11 percent from the 920 homes sold at a median price of $185,000 in the region in October 2012, according to preliminary figures.

A total of 10,897 homes exchanged hands at a median price of $203,947 in the first 10 months of the year. Sales volume is up 23 percent, and the median price has increased by 8.5 percent compared to the same span in 2012, according to the report.

Real estate experts have said this year’s strong sales have been driven by low mortgage rates, pent-up demand and lower home prices compared to their pre-recession levels.

Some housing experts also predicted that October could result in a slowdown in home sales due to the two-week federal government shutdown. Mortgage lenders depend on government agencies such as Social Security Administration for verifying mortgage application information.

“As we expected, we didn’t see much, if any impact from the government shutdown during October,” said Owen Tyler, president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. “Sales progressed at a normal pace and any transactions that were delayed by the temporary shutdown have likely closed.”

Area Realtors like Ann Whalen, broker-in-charge of Coldwell Banker United Realtors in Mount Pleasant, said low interest rates continue to push buyers to the closing table.

“We’re seeing serious buyers,” she said. “It’s not a lot people just coming in to look, but most are coming in to buy.”

Tyler also cautioned that rising flood insurance rates is one issue that could impact area home sales.

Flood insurance rates are poised to grow for homeowners in the Lowcountry, especially when some homes are sold.

The rate increases are the result of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012. The law was crafted to overhaul the debt-laden National Flood Insurance Program. The reforms include new flood maps, and they also eliminate subsidies for policies and rate increases that average 10 percent.

The law also erases any subsidies on a flood insurance policy when the property is sold.

“This has affected the ability to buy and/or sell some properties classified as high risk, since the premiums on some properties increased significantly,” Tyler said.

As of late September, there were nearly 104,000 flood insurance policies in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.

There’s currently legislation in Congress to delay parts of the Biggert-Waters law. One of the legislation’s details would allow subsidized rates to be transferred when a home in sold.

The Realtor association also adjusted its September home sales slightly to reflect 1,133 homes sold at a median price of $209,000.

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