Home sales are off to another strong start in 2014, but the activity isn't as intense as it was a year ago.


Charleston County

413 sales at a median price of $260,000. Mount Pleasant, was the most active area with 123 homes sold at a median price of $337,249. West Ashley outside I-526 was next, with 56 sales at a median price of $234,801.

Berkeley County

182 sales at a median price of $189,000. The most active area was the area, bordered by Jedburg Road, U.S. Highway 17A and College Park, with 49 sales at a median price of $191,495.

Dorchester County

134 sales at a median price of $173,450. The most active area was Summerville/Ridgeville, where 60 homes sold at a median price of $183,500.

Source: Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. Note: Sales handled by local agents outside the 3 counties aren't included in these numbers.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors reported Monday that 748 homes sold at a median price of $211,750 in January. That's up about 15 percent in both volume and pricing from the first month of 2013.

The association said the most recent activity was slower than 2013, which began with 20 percent growth compared to 2012 and maintained that pace through December.

The association has said 12,744 homes changed hands last year 2013, a gain of 21 percent. The region's median price climbed to $206,530 last year, up 8.7 percent.

Economists have said local home sales and prices are expected to rise this year but they will be slowed by a pullback in job growth.

"This year, sustainability is the key," said Corwyn Melette, the association's president. "We fully expect both sales and home prices to continue growing throughout the year, but at a more relaxed pace than last year."

He added that 15 percent growth rate "is right on target with what we anticipated."

Charleston County led the region's home sales with a total of 413 homes sold at a median price of $260,000 in January. That's up 11 percent in volume and 14 percent in pricing, according to data.

The inventory of homes for sale remains low, a scenario that experts say could potentially slow activity from first-time buyers. The situation is fairly common coming out of the holidays, and with activity expected to "continue increasing as we move closer to the spring," the association reported.

"The options for many first-time buyers and young professionals are limited, and they are going to wait for the home they really want. But once they see something they like, they take action," Melette said. "As some of this new construction comes on the market throughout the year, inventory will increase a bit and areas like Summerville, (what used to be rural) West Ashley and James Island will be attractive areas for a wide range of buyers."

There's a lot of optimism that the coming months will spur more home listings and buyer activity.

Lisa Richart, broker-in-charge of RE/MAX Advanced office in West Ashley, said there's been a lot of activity so far this year.

"We have been busy, and as people get their tax refunds we expect more first-time homebuyers will be coming into the market," she said.

Richart said more people have been calling the office in recent days, checking to see when is best to get into the market.

"There is a lower inventory and it's a good time to list it if they want to sell their homes," she said.

The association also revised its December figures Monday. Volume edged up at 1,083 sales while the media price declined slightly to $222,190, it said.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.