Local home sales, prices continued to climb in April

Home sales in the Charleston region rose 11 percent in April, traditionally one of the strongest months of the year for the residential real estate industry.

Home sales in the Charleston area continued to rise but at a slower pace last month as the residential real estate industry entered the thick of the busy spring season.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors said Monday that 1,143 homes changed hands at a median price of $215,000 in April. The increases were 11 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, from the same period a year ago, according to the preliminary report.

The gains marked the industry's best performance for the month since just before the last recession.

"The local market is continuing to see a sustainable increase in sales and price, which is a positive sign as the traditional buying season gets into full swing," Corwyn Melette, the association's president for 2014, said in a written statement. "Mortgage rates have declined to a six-month low, which means buyers can still make the house they want a financially viable option in spite of the rising median price."

Until last month, the industry's best April was in 2007, eight months before the last recession began and sent home sales into a tailspin. At that point, the industry reported 1,089 sales at a median price of $210,000.

Last month, Charleston County was the most active housing market, with 656 sales. Mount Pleasant was by far the most popular area, with 208 homes fetching a median price of $368,224 in April.

"Nothing seems to stay on the market long in Mount Pleasant, especially if it's under the $450,000 price range," said Ann Whalen, broker-in-charge of Coldwell Banker United.

She added that homes in all areas sold "very, very fast" if they were priced under that amount.

"I have two offices in Mount Pleasant and downtown Charleston. What I saw in both offices was a continuation of a strong market," she said. "I think what we're seeing is homes that are priced right are selling quickly, often with multiple offers."

Inventory increased slightly, with 5,994 homes listed for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service.

While sales and prices are still climbing in the region, the pace is slowing. In April a year ago, sales jumped 22 percent and the median price climbed 10 percent compared to the same month in 2012.

The association also revised its March figures. Sales increased by 10 percent for the month to 1,120, while the median price edged down less than $300 to $219,066.