Home sales rebound

Local home sales have been picking up steam for the past year, though they remain well below the pre-recession peak. (Staff/File)

Charleston County has been leading the way in much of the region’s housing rebound, and September was no exception.

The area’s most populous county accounted for 502 homes sold, 57 percent of all homes that changed hands last month within the three counties, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors’ monthly home sales report released Wednesday.

Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties conbined for 876 sales in September, 13 percent more than the same month a year ago.

The association’s monthly reports have been showing encouraging residential real estate trends since the fall of 2011. Sales have been rising, inventories have been falling and the uptick in median sales price suggests that broader real estate values are starting to rise.

The Charleston area sold 7,879 homes through September, a nearly 11 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago. The median sale price also has risen to $190,000, up from $179,850 a year ago, according to the association.

Charleston County also is leading the charge in slimming the average number of days a property sits on the market before being sold, bringing it to some of the shortest spans since before the last recession. All three counties averaged house listings before sold in 100 days or less on average. In Charleston the average was 87 days.

The association pins the quicker sales in-part to a “significant number” of investors who are buying properties, dealing largely in cash, negating the wait time for lender approval.

Dave Sansom, an agent with Carolina One Real Estate in Mount Pleasant, said the investor-buying trend is nothing new, accounting for roughly 20 percent of overall sales in recent months.

Sansom added that buyers of primary residences also are moving quicker.

“Interest rates are low and home prices at a low level compared to previous years,” he said.

The fall usually brings a reduced housing inventory that goes through much of the winter. Still, officials were quick to tout that the region’s housing stock that’s on the market has dropped below the 6,000-home benchmark, with 5,878 homes listed.

The slimmer pickings could be shifting the advantages.

“The available inventory is pushing our market not only toward balance, but slowly back toward the seller’s favor,” said Herb Koger, the association’s president. “We’ve been squarely in ‘buyer’s market’ territory for several years now.”

Also Wednesday, the group updated its data for August to show 1,025 sales at a median price of $199,900.