The Charleston area continues to lead the state in home price increases and speed of sales.

The region's median price between January and March was $215,000, up 13.2 percent compared to the first quarter in 2013, according to South Carolina Realtors' quarterly report.

The Charleston region was better than the Southern Midlands region, which recorded a 10.4 percent hike to $70,750; and Western Upstate, which recorded a 6.9 percent increase to $130,000 in the quarter, according to the Columbia-based trade group.

Local real estate experts have said the Charleston region's strong price increases are tied to a low inventory of homes in the first three months of the year.

There's been hints that price increases could slow as more homes enter the market during the busy spring and summer months, officials have said.

Charleston also continues to lead the state in the time it takes to sell a home.

The South Carolina Realtors' report says the average home in the Charleston region was on the market 77 days from the time it was listed to the point of sale, a 13.9 percent improvement from the first quarter of 2013.

That was better than the Columbia region, which reported 102 days to sell a home, down 13.5 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013.

The Charleston region recorded the largest volume of sales in the first quarter with 2,630. The area's 7.2 percent increase in sales volume was slower than other areas like the Southern Midlands, North Augusta and Cherokee County, according to data.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors has said home sales volume was slower than expected due in part to wintry weather.

Economists have predicted that home sales for this year will be slower than 2013 due to modest job growth. Job creation is a big factor in home sales because employment triggers consumer spending.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550.