The Charleston, SC real estate market has slowed down considerably in the past two years. Home prices are currently down about 11 percent on average for the various metro areas compared to where they were last year. Although Charleston has become a strong buyers market, it was still listed by Forbes earlier this year as the ninth strongest real estate market in the country. So, compared to most other real estate markets in the United States, Charleston has held its own quite well.
The past few months have shown good signs for sellers, as the number of homes under contract has increased every month for the past five months. The number of showings has remained the same (or increased in some cases) for the past two months. It seems that Charleston’s real estate market is starting to play catch up at the current rates of increase. By the end of the year, Charleston is expected to have more homes under contract compared to the end of last year.
Many first time home buyers are trying to meet the November 20 deadline for the $8,000 tax credit. This surge in demand should continue to help boost the market and will prolong the usually seasonal market. April to September sees the most activity in Charleston’s real estate market, with May to August having the peak of sales. Most buyers don’t want to move around the holidays, and many sellers take their homes off the market around the end of October for the same reasons. However, the November 20 deadline for the tax credit is expected keep a steady stream of home buyers in demand (and mostly in the under $200,000 price range). As a result, we’re expected to have a milder late fall than usual.
Charleston’s real estate market was expected to bottom out this fall, but many local experts believe the bottom will come in early 2010. It is certainly too early to tell, but we’re seeing good signs of pickup in the market. Multiple offers are becoming common place again, meaning that many buyers are not able to get the home of their first choice. Although this is bad news for some buyers, low interest rates and low home prices are good incentives for buying now.
Recent news for the state’s overall economy also shows positive signs. Economic indicators from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina suggest that the state’s economy is hitting bottom right now. Unemployment (12.1 percent) is the highest since 1976 and may continue to get worse even when the economy starts to recover. However, unemployment insurance claims are down, residential construction is up, the manufacturing workweek is up, and the Coincident Index (which tracks the overall state economy) is at the lowest rate of decline in six months. Although it is too early to know when a recovery is under way, it’s good news that the worst of the economic downturn for the state may be over.
Lee Keadle is a Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate. He specializes in Mt Pleasant SC real estate but works in all 18 of Charleston’s areas.