Charleston-area home sales roared back in August after dipping the previous two months.
Residential real estate transactions climbed 8.7 percent last month from a year earlier, according to preliminary data Monday from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.
The rise follows 0.5 percent dip in July and 3.8 percent slide in June, slips in sales after a record-breaking year in 2017.
“In August, we finally saw the ‘typical’ summer flurry of sales activity," said Kimberly Lease, the group's president.
"This jump could be the result of pent-up demand, caused by the search process taking longer than it has in the past," she said. "With such limited inventory, it is taking buyers longer to find the home that is right for them."
Lease added that interest in the region continues to grow, so the demand is there.
"But (we) could use an influx of affordable, attractive housing in a variety of price ranges,” she said.
Last month, 1,860 homes changed hands throughout the region. The median price rose 6.4 percent, or $15,800, from a year ago to $260,800.
Through the first eight months of the year, 12,923 homes have sold at a median price of $265,000, up 6.0 percent. Volume is up 1.5 percent for January through August.
The number of homes on the market across the region continues to be low, with 5,366 residential listings as "active" for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service as of Aug. 31. That's down 11 percent from a year earlier.
A healthier number of available homes in the region to keep prices in check is about 6,500, the local Realtors group has said previously.
While the cost to own a home is on the rise, mortgage rates, up from last year at this time, edged up last week. Financier Freddie Mac said the rate on a 30-year mortgage rose to 4.54 percent while the rate on a 15-year loan nudged up slightly to 3.99 percent.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said borrowing costs, after dipping recently, may be on the rise again in coming weeks as investors remain optimistic about the economy's underlying strength.
“It’s important to note that rates are now up three-quarters of a percentage point from last year and home prices — albeit at a slower pace — are still outrunning rising inflation and incomes,” he said.
Property information service CoreLogic expects home prices nationwide to climb 5.1 percent through next July, further pinching prospective buyers.
Also squeezing house availability are homeowners content to sit in their homes and not put them on the market as prices continue to rise.
“Many consumers see their homes as good investments,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Our consumer research indicates homeowners, especially those in high-price growth markets, are confident that by waiting to sell, they will receive a greater return on investment than they would today. In other words, sellers are largely staying put. With fewer homes on the market, price pressure will continue to rise.”
Nationally, home prices jumped 6.2 percent over the past 12 months through July, according to the property information provider.
The local Realtors group also adjusted July's sales figures slightly higher in the region to show 1,689 home transactions at the slightly lower median price of $267,800.