All things were in place for a strong Charleston area real estate market for years to come.
There’s the warm climate, pro-business attitude, attractive locales in Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties and fairly reasonable prices. Not to mention the Atlantic Ocean, scenic marshes, top notch restaurants, historic sites, boating and fishing, the excitement of three pro sports teams.
Then the inconceivable – at least at the time – happened. The national housing industry, overstimulated by easy financing and speculation, took a hit. Builders stopped building, homeowners couldn’t sell, few people would buy.
There’s no arguing that Greater Charleston suffered like the rest of the United States. But not having experienced the artificial highs, the area didn’t succumb to the mind-numbing lows.
And in recent months, the region is showing signs of a boost in home sales and level prices, according to figures from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.
Employment figures have lagged, yet even they may be turning around. Notably, aircraft maker Boeing disclosed it would construct a second assembly line in North Charleston.
“A grand slam occurred yesterday in Charleston S.C. – not in the Bronx during the first game of the World Series – with the announcement of the Boeing plant coming to North Charleston,” Brad Rundbaken, a local tracker of real estate and economic patterns, says in his Charleston Market Report newsletter.
“The economic impact the new Boeing plant will have on the Lowcountry and South Carolina is huge. The Boeing deal will have more of an impact that the BMW plant did in Greenville 15 years ago.”
Rundbaken noted how BMW has invested $4.2 billion in the state and employs 5,000 people. According to a University of South Carolina Moore School of Business study last year, the factory supports 23,050 jobs, generates $1.2 billion in wages and salaries yearly and has a total economic output in the state of $8.8 billion.
Yet, says Rundbaken, the Boeing deal will be more significant. “During an economic period where Charleston and the state have been hit hard by the recession the Boeing announcement yesterday really gives the Lowcountry a shot in the arm of economic adrenaline that will be worth billions in the years to come.”
It’s not that the financial outlook was gloomy in metro Charleston, which takes in all of Charleston County from McClellanville to Edisto Island; Berkeley County including Hanahan-Goose Creek, Daniel Island and as far out as Moncks Corner, Cross and Jamestown; and Dorchester County from Summerville to the county seat in St. George to Harleyville-Ridgeville.
Real estate signals, for instance, have been pointing toward sales gains, in some cases since spring.
Single family permits spiked in June before slowing down in late summer, according to the Charleston New Homes Snapshot. The snapshot is compiled by Will Jenkinson of Carolina One New Homes – a division of the largest area agency, Carolina One Real Estate. Still, the August totals are as high as the same period a year before. Meanwhile, sales closings have actually trended upward since April.
“According to Moody’s Economy.com both permits and sales are projected to soften and stabilize in 2010 and they are forecasted to both increase starting in 2011,” Jenkinson says.
Meanwhile, the Charleston area is the leader in new home closings and permits among the state’s four largest metro markets (Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach).
Costs have declined locally, with the new-home average price peaking at $268,112 in 2007 and declining 31 percent since then to $212,397 this year.
“The average new home price has fallen back to 2000-2003 levels,” Jenkinson says, noting that prices should start to rebound in 2011 based on the Moody’s Economy.com report.
Evidence that researchers and observers cite of a stable if not strengthening local real estate market is backed by Multiple Listing Service totals.
While drops in sales and prices in individual markets from 2008 are the norm, there are pockets of growth.
Single-family home sales are up year to year through September in smaller markets such as Edisto Island, Hollywood/Meggett/Ravenel, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island, and townhome-condo sales have risen in Summerville. The median price has increased 6.4 percent for single-family homes in Western Charleston County and for townhomes and condos in North Charleston. Average home prices are up on Johns Island, the upper Charleston peninsula, Daniel Island, upper Mount Pleasant and Moncks Corner, while condo-townhome averages have gained in Summerville and West Ashley.
Looking forward, the Charleston area’s real estate outlook is hopeful. The market was starting to emerge from the doldrums as it was. Then came the news that could give the region’s financial picture a timely, powerful, long-lasting engine.
“The Boeing plant will help our local economy in so many ways I can not even begin to quantify it,” says Rundbaken. “Not only are we talking about thousands of much needed jobs but also a trickle down economic effect that will help local businesses in every sector especially real estate.”
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com
2009 Real Estate Market Stats & Facts
Median home sales price: $186,389
Number of sales: 8
Average days on market: 75
Median home sales price: $531,333
Number of sales: 156
Average days on market: 196
Median home sales price: $430,749
Number of sales: 89
Average days on market: 254
Median home sales price: $380,583
Number of sales: 54
Average days on market: 180
Median home sales price: $406,056
Number of sales: 35
Average days on market: 199
Median home sales price: $153,246
Number of sales: 372
Average days on market: 91
Isle of Palms
Median home sales price: $903,257
Number of sales: 48
Average days on market: 208
Median home sales price: $222,250
Number of sales: 327
Average days on market: 116
Median home sales price: $231,203
Number of sales: 111
Average days on market: 141
Median home sales price: $449,754
Number of sales: 69
Average days on market: 211
Median home sales price: $166,489
Number of sales: 43
Average days on market: 94
Median home sales price: $314,766
Number of sales: 830
Average days on market: 138
Median home sales price: $133,398
Number of sales: 467
Average days on market: 105
Median home sales price: $994,522
Number of sales: 17
Average days on market: 132
Median home sales price: $160,625
Number of sales: 488
Average days on market: 113
Median home sales price: $203,895
Number of sales: 683
Average days on market: 100
Western Charleston County
Median home sales price: $185,861
Number of sales: 47
Average days on market: 144
EDITOR'S NOTE: Area figures are based on the "median", or midpoint, price. That's a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less. All market and median prices configured by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Totals are year-to-date through September 2009. Isle of Palms numbers exclude Wild Dunes.