All the talk about rising interest rates and a dwindling number of properties for sale in the tri-county region isn't necessarily bad for the real estate industry, according to one economist who follows the market.

Joey Von Nessen of the University of South Carolina's Moore School of Business said last week that an improving economy and housing industry inevitably trigger reactions. Among them: rising mortgage rates, higher demand for homes and fewer available lots that can be quickly developed.

"Rising mortgage interest rates are usually seen as being generally bad for housing markets," he said. "However, rising interest rates are also a natural consequence of a recovering economy. We have to keep this in mind."

Von Nessen was guest speaker at the Charleston Home Builders Association's market update Thursday.

Not surprisingly, he said, job growth will continue to dictate the pace of home sales for the rest of the year.

"Charleston has been experiencing high employment growth relative to the rest of South Carolina, and we have seen higher levels of housing activity in Charleston as a result," he said.

He cautioned that the statewide housing market could run into some headwinds this year, pointing to low wage growth as the biggest reason.

"Wage growth has been stagnant throughout the state, though Charleston has fared better than most regions," Von Nessen said. "This is largely due to the fact that Charleston has a relatively large concentration of employees working in highly scientific and technical fields, such as engineering, that pay significantly above the state's average wage."

Change of course

Golden Bear Realty, a Jack Nicklaus family-owned company, is taking a mulligan by changing the location of its inaugural S.C. office.

The North Palm Beach, Fla.-based agency now plans to open at 654 Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant in July. The original plan called for the office to be at 960 Morrison Drive on the Charleston peninsula.

"Our office situation on Morrison unfortunately never materialized, so we turned our attention over to Mount Pleasant," said Todd Vance, a manager at the firm.

Golden Bear Realty announced plans to hang out its shingle in the Charleston market earlier this year, citing the region's high online search activity for high-end homes as a key reason.

"My family loves Charleston and the feel of the Lowcountry," said Michael Nicklaus, president. "My dad has designed many golf courses in this region, and we believe Charleston ... is the perfect place to expand our luxury real estate business."

The firm has said it's also looking to expand to Hilton Head Island and Vail, Colo.

The elder Nicklaus, the golfing legend who's nicknamed the Golden Bear, already has business ties to Charleston. He and son Gary are investors in DeSano Pizza Bakery, which opened a location on the upper peninsula in September.