Soaring home prices didn't deter home buyers in the Charleston area in April.
Residential real estate transactions jumped 5.6 percent last month from a year earlier, according to preliminary data Thursday from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.
“Activity has picked up significantly, but we are still struggling with a considerable lack of inventory in our market,” said association president Kimberly Lease. "Prices continue to escalate at this pace because of the limited supply, and it’s further compounding the affordability issues we face in our region."
Even with concerns over escalating prices and potentially higher mortgage rates, Lease said sales continue to remain healthy.
"The upside is that despite these challenges, buyers seem undeterred in investing in homes in our market," she said.
Last month, 1,614 homes changed hands throughout the region at a median price of $270,000 — up $23,000, or 9.3 percent, from a year ago.
The climb in sales follows a 2.3 percent rise in March.
So far this year, 5,567 homes have sold at a median price of $261,000, up 6.5 percent during the first four months of the year. The volume is up 1.1 percent for January through April.
The number of homes on the market across the region continues to be low, with 5,176 residential listings as "active" for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service as of April 30. That's down 11.5 percent from the fourth month of last year.
A healthier number of available homes in the region to keep prices in check is about 6,500, according to a previous association president.
While the cost to own a home is on the rise, mortgage rates have been edging up, too, for much of the year, adding costs for borrowers with each incremental rise.
On Thursday, financier Freddie Mac reported average long-term interest rates held steady.
The rate on a 30-year mortgage remained unchanged at 4.55 percent while the rate on a 15-year loan dipped slightly to 4.01 percent.
With low inventory and high demand, the price of homes is expected to continue to climb.
Property information service CoreLogic expects home prices to rise 5.2 percent through next March, contributing to the pinch for first-time buyers.
"The dream of home ownership continues to fade away for the average prospective buyer," said Frank Martell, CoreLogic president and CEO. "Lower-priced homes are appreciating much faster than higher-priced properties, making the affordability crisis progressively worse."
He added that home prices have risen faster than incomes in much of the country, resulting in an unsustainable condition that can only be remedied by coordinated public- and private-sector solutions.
Nationally, home prices jumped 7 percent over the past 12 months through March, according to the property information provider.
The local Realtors group also adjusted March's sales figures slightly higher in the region to show 1,715 home transactions at the same median price of $260,000.