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Charleston-area home sales slipped slightly in June. File/Staff

Home sales cooled slightly as the summer heat set in across the Charleston region, but they aren't that far off from last year's sales for the first six months.

Residential real estate transactions dipped 1.3% in June compared to the same month a year ago, according to preliminary data Wednesday from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

The slip in sales comes after a 3% uptick in May and slower sales in March and April. For the year, sales are down 2%.

Edward Oswald, the North Charleston-based trade group's president, said he recognized residential sales have been seesawing from month to month during the first half of the year, but called the 2% variance during the first six months not far from last year's pace at this time. 

“At the halfway point in the year, our regional residential market has been a consistent performer,” he said. “Median price continues to increase, as you’d expect to see in a market that has an inventory deficit. Demand continues to outpace supply, and affordability issues will continue until that levels out."

Last month, 1,923 homes changed hands throughout the region at a median price of $289,798, up 7.3 percent, or nearly $20,000, over June 2018.

So far this year, 9,201 homes have sold throughout the region at a median price of $277,228, up 4.6 percent over the first six months of the year.

The number of residential listings on the market throughout the region stood at 5,731 as "active" for sale in the Charleston Multiple Listing Service in June. That's down 5.3% from a year earlier.

A healthier number of homes in the region to keep prices in check is about 6,500, the group has previously said.

While the cost to own a home continues to rise, mortgage rates remain more favorable than this time last year.

Home loan financier Freddie Mac reported Thursday the average rate on a 30-year mortgage remained unchanged from the previous week at an average of 3.75% while a 15-year loan ticked up to an average of 3.22%.

“While rates have moderated, we’re still at nearly three-year lows, which is good news for buyers looking to purchase a home before school starts,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist.

High consumer confidence and a strong labor market are helping to underpin the economy and spur home-buying, he said.

"The latest weekly purchase application data suggests homebuyer demand continues to rise, which is consistent with the slowly improving real estate data from the last two months," Khater said.

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Property information service CoreLogic expects home prices to rise 5.6% through May 2020.

“Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages fell by nearly 1 percentage point between November 2018 and this May,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “This has been a shot-in-the-arm for home sales. Sales gained momentum in May, and annual home-price growth accelerated for the first time since March 2018.”

The company's leader said recent and forecasted acceleration in home prices is both good and bad.

“Higher prices and a lack of affordable homes are two of the most challenging issues in housing today, and every buyer, seller and industry participant is being impacted," said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

"The long-term solution lies in expanding supply, which will require aggressive and effective collaboration between policy makers, state and local government entities and home builders,” Martell said.

Nationally, home prices climbed 3.6% over the past 12 months through May, according to the property information provider.

The local Realtors group also adjusted May's sales figures slightly higher to show 1,901 homes sold at an unchanged median price of $285,000.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.