Home showings across the Charleston region plunged in October by double digits over the same month last year, reflecting a national trend as long-term interest rates edge toward 5 percent and the seasonal slowdown in cooler weather takes hold.
Showings plummeted 15.2 percent around the Holy City, the largest percentage drop over the previous 12 months, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. Showings also dropped across the South for the first time in 12 months and in every region of the country.
That's likely a reflection of rising mortgage rates which led fewer buyers to look at houses, according to the national ShowingTime Showing Index. Mortgage rates reached a seven-year high in October, according to financier Freddie Mac.
The National Association of Home Builders’ affordability index reported a 10-year low, another contributing factor. Home prices continue to escalate, though the rate has slowed somewhat in recent months across the nation more so than in Charleston.
The median price of homes sold in the Charleston area during the first 10 months of the year is up 6 percent to $265,236 over the same period last year. The median price for existing homes in the U.S. in October came in at $255,400, up 3.8 percent over October 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The median price for new homes sold in October across the nation was $309,700, down about $10,000 from the same month last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The South overall, which includes states from Maryland to Texas, reported a 3.8 percent decline in showings in October compared to the same time last year, while the U.S. Index fell 5 percent year-over-year from 2017.
"This is a continuation of the trend we've been seeing for the U.S. since spring,” ShowingTime chief analytics officer Daniil Cherkasskiy said. “Despite a relatively healthy economy, all regions of the country reported slower buyer traffic when compared to 2017’s record numbers."
Even with showings down, the Charleston region is on pace to come close to last year’s record sales if November and December figures come in strong. Through October, 15,561 homes sold in the region, up 0.5 percent over the first 10 months of last year.
Home showings also dropped 15.1 percent in September in Charleston, but that's the same month the threat of Hurricane Florence forced a coastal evacuation.