Maybe the buzz stems from a rallying economy, steadying housing trends, arriving investors - or stinging cold weather up North.

Whatever the case, Bill Donovan, a Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate, can sense one thing.

Buyers and investors are getting hyped up over townhomes and condos, which are attracting sales at a faster pace that single-family homes while seeing prices grow at a quicker rate.

"People are really ready," he says.

The surge in transactions involving one-level condos and two-and-three tier townhomes is the latest wrinkle in the country's recovering real estate market.

"I had a couple come in from out of state," looking for a condo or townhome, Donovan says. They spend six months in New England, half a year in warmer weather and "want to get away."

The Realtor says he apologized to the husband and wife for the recent cold snap in the Charleston area. According to Donovan, they said, 'That's okay. We checked back (in New England), and they have eight inches of snow.'

Increases in condo and townhome sales blanket the Lowcountry, with Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms and West Ashley among the stronger markets.

Through November this year, the real estate property type with the largest price gain was the condominium segment. Prices increased 15 percent to $163,000, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors latest housing supply overview.

Meanwhile, condos are staying an average 85 days on the market as of November, down 31.4 percent from 124 days on the market a year earlier. And the percentage of the list price received in sales rose 4.5 percent, outpacing the gains seen in single family homes.

Among the areas experiencing a burst in interest is Hollywood-Ravenel, due to convenience and variety of its multifamily offerings.

Ironwood Townhomes at Stono Ferry offers elevated construction with drive under garages, three different floor plans from 1,730 to 2,145 square feet and models with three bedrooms and three or three-and-a-half baths, says Bud Poston, Realtor with Wilkinson and Associates ERA.

Available units border the popular Links at Stono Ferry Golf Course and are within the gated community of The Plantation at Stono Ferry.

"Activity has been good this year with 9 units sold and only 3 units now actively for sale," he says. "These are very well constructed units in a community that has a lot of activity for owners," Poston says.

"If anyone is thinking of townhome living this community is a 'must see,'" he says.

Donovan says investors re-entered the condo and townhome market this year, which has lifted sales volume and dollar values. "Prices are up 8 percent for the year," he says.

"There is really a demand. You've got more investors out there, but we are also seeing quite a few second owners," he says. Sometimes, the buyers look to downsize.

Well-placed townhomes and condos in villages with plenty of amenities can be particularly attractive. He's listing homes in Seaside Farms in Mount Pleasant and in Wild Dunes at the Isle of Palms.

"Both of these have pools," he says. The Mount Pleasant property, a three-story complex, sports an elevator - "good for people on the second and third floors."

Donovan says he just landed a contract on a condo in Seaside Farms. The property's in a 24-unit complex. The units, which overlook a lake, tout three and four bedrooms and three full baths.

"People want to give up larger homes and move into a condo," he says.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or