Low inventory and rising costs are slowing home sales in the tri-county area, experts said Tuesday.

County breakdown

Charleston County

709 sales at a median price of $282,290. Mount Pleasant was the most active area, with 213 sales a median price of $356,950.

Berkeley County

305 sales at a median price of $190,000. The area bordered by Jedburg Road, Highway 17A and College Park was the most active, with 70 sales at a median price of $191,920.

Dorchester County

227 sales at a median price of $178,000. The most active area was Summerville/Ridgeville, with 103 sales at a median price of $196,000.

Charleston Trident Association of Realtors

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors said in new report that 1,294 homes were sold in May, a 1.3 percent gain from the same month last year.

Housing summit

The nonprofit S.C. Community Loan Fund is holding a summit Friday to discuss the Charleston region's housing issues and possible solutions.

The free event runs 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Trident Technical College's Complex for Economic Development, Building 920, 7000 Rivers Ave. in North Charleston.

The scheduled keynote speaker is Michelle Winters, the Urban Land Institute's senior visiting fellow for the Terwilliger Center.

Go to www.sccommunityloanfund.org or contact Karen Hauck at 973-7285 or karen@sccommunityloanfund.org for details.

The median sale price last month was $218,000. That's up $3,000 from April and about $6,000 more than May 2013.

For the first five months of this year, home sales have risen almost 6 percent to 5,042 transactions compared to January-May 2013, according to the report. At this point a year ago, sales were up more than 21 percent from 2012.

"As predicted by industry experts, the pace has slowed, but sales are still steady as we move through the summer season," said Corwyn Melette, the association's president.

Some area agents say the latest monthly results reflect a drop in the number of houses that are on the market.

"Inventory is low, so there are a limited number of homes to buy," said Owen Tyler, managing broker at The Cassina Group. "How can you have a drastic increase in sales when you have no inventory?"

Ann Whalen, broker-in-charge of Coldwell Banker United in Mount Pleasant, expressed similar thoughts.

"There's just not a lot of inventory," she said. "We are lucky to have some new construction activity, and that is selling strong."

The association reported Tuesday that 6,113 homes were listed as "active" for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service at the end of May, down 4.6 percent from a year ago.

At the same time, the cost of buying a home continues to increase, said Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner, who noted that many markets around the country are seeing sluggish sales.

Vitner described a stalemate between buyers holding out for good deals and sellers reluctant to list homes until they can build more equity.

"With prices and interest rates higher, their costs have increased," Vitner said of purchasers. "This has priced some people out of the market, and it is giving some buyers a pause to see what happens with prices."

Vitner also said rising interest rates and more stringent lending requirements haven't helped.

"Home prices have risen over the year and interest rates have increased," he said. "Some buyers are having difficulty qualifying. ... They also don't have the comfort level to move forward."

Realtors like Tyler also said May traditionally is a slower month for the industry.

"I believe that May always suffers from some season fluctuations with schools getting out, graduations, the start of vacation, and in many cases homebuyers and sellers just starting the process," Tyler said.