South Carolina Sales Numbers look positive for 2007
According to the SCAR homes sales estimates for the first quarter of 2007, total home sales in South Carolina were down from the same period in 2006. While sales in the Piedmont and some metropolitan areas are booming, reports from all four coastal regions continue to tell of a crisis in the South Carolina homeowner's insurance market.
Compared to the first three months of last year, the median home price in the state dipped by 3.2 percent to $152,000, down from $157,000. The total number of sales declined by 6.7 percent to 14,247 total sales, according to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data from SCAR. Despite the overall decline, nine of the 15 reporting regions in the state again showed positive increases in total sales this quarter.
The Piedmont region (Rock Hill, York, Lancaster & Chester) continues to boom, where total sales grew by 66.4 percent. Sales in that area during March nearly doubled from the previous year, with an 85 percent increase. Cherokee County, Greenwood, and the Greater Pee Dee also report double-digit increases in sales over last year. The Sumter/Clarendon area leads the state in home-price appreciation, with a 10.4 percent increase in the median sales price.
Six of South Carolina's 15 markets -Beaufort, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Aiken and the Upstate - showed declines, with Charleston posting the biggest drop at 21 percent. The decrease is likely due to a crisis in the state's coastal insurance market. Homeowners from Hilton Head to Myrtle Beach have seen as many as 20,000 coastal policies dropped since August and rate hikes as much as 100 percent. Major insurers have limited coverage or cancelled policies to prevent losses from future hurricanes.
As home sales moderate, we predict overall home prices will be essentially flat this year. The good news is that inventories remain well below the levels experienced during the recent housing downturn in the early 1990s, and supplies are close to balanced in many areas of the state. Every broker I have spoken with is optimistic about 2007-statewide sales will still be at historically high levels.