SC home sales hot in June, Columbia sales still cool

07/14/2014 7:33 PM

07/14/2014 7:34 PM

Homes sales across South Carolina heated up in June, but Columbia-area sales stayed sluggish even as prices rose.

In Columbia, June median home sales prices rose a hefty 7.1 percent to $161,650, even though sales in the Capital City fell by 4.7 percent to 913, according to the monthly S.C. Realtors report released on Monday.

Statewide, sales jumped 3.9 percent to 6,445 and with 10 out of 16 markets in the state showing improvements. Median sales in the state rose 6 percent to $173,777.

In the North Augusta home market, sales were down 6 percent in June, while prices bumped up 4.8 percent, and in coastal Beaufort County, where sales have generally been good coming out of one of the worst real estate devaluations in U.S. history, June sales also ticked downward 1.5 percent while home prices jumped by nearly 11 percent.

“In general, I think what you’re seeing is very much of a slowly recovering market,” said Morris Lyles, an experienced sales agent with ERA Wilder Realty in Columbia. “You’ll see prices jump up a little bit, then sales drop off – then sales pick up as prices slow down in their increase,” which reflects normal market supply and demand, he said.

A former broker in charge, Lyles had his best month ever in residential home sales in June, he said, buoyed by healthy military traffic.

For the 12-month period ending in June, pending sales – sales that are under contract but have not yet closed – were up in Columbia 7.4 percent to 978, the report said. That’s an indication that the summer could end on a strong note as those sales are finalized.

New listings in Columbia rose 14.2 percent to 1,592 as more sellers put their homes on the market. The months’ supply of available inventory fell slightly from a year ago to 9.8 months. It was unchanged from May. A healthy market typically has a six months supply, experts have said.

Mortgage rates, which averaged under 4 percent in 2012 and 2013, have been above 4 percent for a year. Rates have fallen the past couple of months and averaged 4.16 percent in June, making home buying more attractive.

Prices, meanwhile, pushed higher in 12 of 16 locations in the report, dropping in just four markets including Aiken, Greenwood, Cherokee and Sumter/Clarendon counties.

Median price – the point where half of sales were higher and half were lower – is boosted by increased sales of higher priced homes, Lyles said, which was reflected in the June report.

“Activity is picking up in the upper price tiers,” the June report stated, with homes priced $300,001 and above showed the largest sales gains of any category at 14.8 percent in South Carolina. In Columbia, sales in the $200,001 to $300,000 range were strongest at 15.9 percent, with homes priced at $300,001 and up rising 12 percent.

“You see actually that the best house is selling,” Lyles said. Sellers by large are pricing their homes correctly, he said, properly preparing them for the sale and making all the necessary repairs prior to the sale, because buyers don’t have the money to take on those expenses.

“If you have two houses for sale and something is wrong with one of them, they’re going to buy the other,” Lyles said.

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