March 2010: Residential Real Estate Sales Up 22%; Prices Hold Steady
Preliminary data from the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS® shows 691 homes sold at a median price of $185,000 in March. This represents a 22% increase in sales and maintenance of the median price from March 2009, when 568 homes sold at a median price of $185,000.
Year-to-date, 23% more homes sold at prices 3% higher than this time last year. Thus far in 2010, 1,670 homes sold at an average median price of $185,501. At this time last year, 1,357 homes had sold at an average median price of $180,473.
This suggests a strong beginning to the typically busy spring and summer seasons, which got off to a slow start in 2009. “The activity in the early months of 2010 is incredibly encouraging—every month, we’re seeing sustainable growth in home sales and prices are holding steady” said Jeremy Willits, 2010 CTAR President. “We didn’t have sales numbers in this range until May or June in 2009” said Willits.
Though no one is sure what the months following the expiration of the tax credit will look like, Willits concurs that the homebuyer tax credit appears to have done what it was supposed to do. “The tax credit was not intended to be a long-term initiative. It incentivized the purchase of a home, following a year of uncertainty and volatile market activity. It was designed to help stabilize the market and that’s exactly what we’ve seen it do in Charleston” said Willits.
Rising mortgage rates and the uptick in buyer activity could encourage potential buyers looking to make an investment in real estate before they are priced out of the market. Following last week’s rise in mortgage rates, from 5.03% to more than 5.20% last Wednesday, some potential buyers realize that low rates and market affordability won’t last forever. For every 1 percentage point rise in rates, 300,000 to 400,000 would-be buyers are priced out of the market in a given year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
There were 9,849 active listings on the market as of March 31, 2010. March represents the third consecutive month with less than 10,000 properties on the market.