Home sales overtake last year’s total

With one month left to be counted, Charleston area home sales have surpassed last year’s total transactions.

Charleston area home sales galloped past last year’s total transactions in 11 months this year.

Through November, volume was up 14.1 percent to 14,758 sales, compared to 12,933 for the same period last year, according to preliminary data Thursday from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. Total volume for 2014 was 14,250 transactions.

With a month to go, volume will continue to grow but sales won’t set a record. The highest number of home sales recorded in one year in the Lowcountry was 18,076 in 2005, two years before the housing market crashed and the last recession set in.

Residential sales rose 4.3 percent last month over November 2014 as 1,029 homes changed hands in the region at a median price of $246,000, up nearly $24,000 from a year earlier.

The median price for the year is $228,000, up 5.4 percent from the same period in 2014.

Inventory decreased by 560 properties in November over October, with 5,390 homes listed on the market as “active” for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service. That’s about 15 percent fewer than this time last year.

Michael Sally, the association’s newly installed president, said a shortage of affordably priced housing will be among the biggest challenges next year facing the market as more residents and big businesses move to the area.

“Access to housing — particularly affordable housing — is becoming more and more limited, and that’s going to be a real problem for our region,” he said. “We have major corporations and grand-scale economic investments taking place, but fewer and fewer options in terms of housing for the people who are going to take those jobs.”

Sally said “affordable” isn’t limited to government-subsidized housing, though that is important as well, he added.

“We are speaking to the larger need for housing availability for people at all levels of income,” he said.

“Prices are growing at a rapid pace and quickly pricing many existing Lowcountry residents out of the market that they’ve grown up in and are trying to raise their families in.”

Property information provider CoreLogic projects home prices nationally rose 0.1 percent from October to November and will rise 5.2 percent nationally by October 2016.

“Many markets have experienced a low inventory of homes for sale, along with strong buyer demand, which is sustaining upward pressure on home prices,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “These conditions are likely to persist as we enter 2016.”

The North Charleston-based Realtors group also revised October’s home sales figures slightly to show 1,248 transactions, an increase of 14 sales. The median price remained unchanged at $225,000.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.