Area home sales rise 23% in first quarter

Rising home sales in the Charleston region means less supply is available, making it tougher for would-be buyers.

Home sales continue to put up blistering numbers in the Charleston region this year.

For the first quarter of 2015, transaction volume is up 23 percent over the same period last year, the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors reported Friday.

In March, 1,420 homes changed hands at a median price of $221,730, according to preliminary data. The number of homes sold last month is up 29 percent over March 2014.

During the first three months of the year, 3,330 homes sold, nearly a quarter more than the first quarter of 2014.

The year-to-date median price of $215,000 grew 1 percent, a figure the association pointed to as a “stable, sustainable” increase in a busy market.

“People believe in Charleston, businesses are investing in Charleston, and that’s reflecting very well on our housing market,” said Matt DeAntonio, the association’s 2015 president. “With more than 3,000 home sales so far this year, consumers believe that Charleston is a good investment — and with the announcement of a $500 million investment by Daimler to build their North Charleston-based van plant and bring 1,300 jobs to the region, businesses also believe that Charleston is a good investment.”

The downside of the busy home market is that it has created a shortage for buyers.

“The one thing we need, however, is more homes on the market,” DeAntonio said.

With just under 5,500 homes available in the region — about 18 percent less than in March 2014 — purchasers have fewer options.

“We need our cities, towns and municipalities to respond to the need here and start planning, looking at smart-growth strategies,” DeAntonio said. “Our population is growing, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down.”

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He said state leaders are bringing jobs to the Charleston area, and more housing must follow.

“We need to ensure that there is attractive, affordable housing available for the workers who will fill these jobs,” DeAntonio said.

The association adjusted February’s figures slightly to show that 1,011 homes changed hands, up by 11, at an unchanged median price of $212,145.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.