Thru-way From Ashley Phosphate to Ladson Road is Done

This is old news by now.  If you’re considering a purchase along this route, consider the pro’s and con’s.  Dorchester Road over the last few years has become more and more congested.  Many people undoubtedly will use this route as a short cut, particularly during the school year when Dorchester Rd. Traffic is the worst.

Check Out NEW www.Move2Charleston.com Website To Look For Homes For Sale in Charleston SC

The new friendlier, easier to use www.Move2Charleston.com website was launched in July 2009 as part of our ongoing quest to provide state of the art internet tools to real estate buyers and sellers.  We invite all of you to give it a try and compare it to any search program you are using.  The best part about the tool is that it facilitates the buying process between buyer and agent.  You can easily select your favorites and send them to your agent.  They then, in turn, can help redirect you and refine your search so that when you finally come to town to look at homes for sale, you’re prepared with your top picks.  Depending on scheduling, your agent can even preview some of the homes to help you speed up the process.  They can check on property disclosures to see if there is anything unusual about the home that would disqualify it from your search. 

Again, we invite you to check out the new www.Move2Charleston.com where the future Market Updates will be posted.  If  you’ve been visiting www.allthingscharleston.com, or if you’ve come to allthingscharleston through another blog post, we also invite you to see our more current blog posts at www.Move2Charleston.com.

First Evidence That Charleston Real Estate Market Has Reached Its Bottom

For the first time since the second half of 2006, we are seeing unit sales exceeding the previous year.  The Charleston MLS is showing 734 sales in September of 2009 vs 32 in September of 2008.  Yes, I know it’s not much.  But it’s better than going down and down and down.  Also, the average price per square foot edged up ever so slightly from $124 in August to $129.  I’m looking for at least a 3 month trend before I conclude the turnaround is here to stay, but again, at least there is an initial sign.  It might be another year before we put 3 months together, but at least it’s a start.  We have to allow for the effect of the $8,000 first time home buyer credits which we did not have this time last year.  Whatever, the case, I’ll take whatever good news I can get!

Looking For A True Picture of Charleston Price Changes? Square Foot Price Changes Show Truest Picture

There is a problem with “average” and “median” home sale prices in tracking home sale prices.  What about the buyer  that qualifies for $250,000.  They see a few houses that meet their needs in the $230k range.  They could get what they need for $230,000, even what they originally “wanted”.  However, after a week of house hunting, they realize they can get more.  Even in 2006, my experience as a buyers agent was that just about everyone, (myself included) would really love to have a home that is $20,000-$30,000 outside of their price range.  Maybe it’s the bonus room.  Or it could be the granite counter tops and wood floors.  Perhaps it’s the larger lot with more privacey.  Whatever the case, the bottom line is, “average” and “median” home prices are incomplete indicators of home price trends. 

 

Which areas have been affected most?  Recently, the Charleston MLS added a new indicator which is very  helpful.  I have compiled the changes since 2006 so you can see which areas have been affected most.  As it turns out, beach communities have seen the most dramatic drops.  Here is the grid so you can see for yourself. 

  August 2009 to August 2006 Comparison 
  Charleston SC Real Estate Market – Average Price/Sqft.
  August-06 August-09 %                                +/-
Downtown Charleston  $                        376  $                            319 -15.2%
James Island  $                        171  $                            141 -17.5%
Daniel Island  $                        265  $                            235 -11.3%
Mt Pleasant S of 41  $                        199  $                            159 -20.1%
Mt Pleasant N of 41  $                        185  $                            140 -24.3%
“North Area”  $                        106  $                              90 -15.1%
Folly Beach  $                        515  $                            242 -53.0%
Isle of Palms  $                        688  $                            298 -56.7%
John’s Island  $                        157  $                            145 -7.6%
West Ashley 148 121 -18.2%

 Mt Pleasant was also affected much more on a percentage basis, while John’s Island experienced the least impact.  Keep in mind that there are areas within areas.  James Island and West Ashley have water front properties that you might expect have been hit hard, now that supply and demand are working against them.  Demand is way off across the board, driving prices down. 

The North Area is very important because this is the most affordable area in Charleston.  It encompasses Summerville, Goose Creek, Hanahan, and North Charleston outside 526.  Many families moving to the area, and first time home buyers choose the North Area because of square foot prices being around $100.  Also, if you’re looking for more home for your  money, you pay less for location and can get more house for the same investment.

Inventory in Berkely and Dorchester Counties is Getting Back to Normal

It’s not there yet, but it’s going in the right direction.  For those of you that don’t know, Berkeley and Dorchester County has always had the most affordable housing for middle income families, particularly those with school age children where quality of education is a primary concern.  Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, and James Island on the other hand are more expensive primarily due to their proximity to downtown and to the beaches. 

Stay tuned for the raw numbers.  August stats aren’t completely in yet thanks to those procrastinating agents that haven’t changed their listings in the MLS to “Sold” status.

Raw Market Data for August 2009

Sales and Inventory Report
Category – Residential
Statistics for Entire MLS from 8/1/2007 – 7/31/2009
 
Month Year Monthly
Sales
Monthly
Volume
Avg List $ Avg Sale $ Avg $/Sqft Median Sold $ Avg DOM % Sold/List Current
Inventory
Months
Inventory
August 2007 1180 $374,088,399 $329,743 $317,024 $159 $210,000 79 96.14% 11816 10.01
September 2007 970 $288,411,129 $306,911 $297,331 $156 $199,857 77 96.87% 11839 12.20
October 2007 916 $268,044,935 $302,872 $292,625 $157 $202,562 82 96.61% 11733 12.80
November 2007 933 $246,474,609 $273,999 $264,174 $143 $200,000 82 96.41% 11626 12.46
December 2007 793 $229,363,340 $301,581 $289,234 $149 $209,503 92 95.90% 11267 14.20
January 2008 652 $195,581,685 $313,890 $299,971 $154 $203,593 101 95.56% 10972 16.82
February 2008 735 $217,982,218 $309,576 $296,574 $175 $200,000 111 95.79% 11281 15.34
March 2008 869 $268,826,066 $321,409 $309,351 $174 $206,290 102 96.24% 11522 13.25
April 2008 838 $263,391,473 $328,502 $314,309 $169 $208,500 98 95.67% 11835 14.12
May 2008 903 $277,825,579 $323,510 $307,669 $159 $211,710 114 95.10% 11812 13.08
June 2008 920 $280,467,466 $321,305 $304,855 $149 $205,950 103 94.88% 11730 12.75
July 2008 877 $262,054,317 $315,312 $298,807 $146 $205,745 106 94.76% 11792 13.44
Annual:   10586 $3,172,511,216 $312,684 $299,689 157 $205,000 94 95.84% 11602 13.15
 
Month Year Monthly
Sales
Monthly
Volume
Avg List $ Avg Sale $ Avg $/Sqft Median Sold $ Avg DOM % Sold/List Current
Inventory
Months
Inventory
August 2008 805 $230,526,616 $301,111 $286,368 $149 $197,500 100 95.10% 11638 14.45
September 2008 733 $191,739,979 $274,150 $261,582 $133 $187,000 100 95.41% 11490 15.67
October 2008 641 $172,915,253 $284,664 $269,758 $132 $189,900 108 94.76% 11435 17.83
November 2008 506 $133,325,340 $275,843 $263,488 $137 $185,000 90 95.52% 11314 22.35
December 2008 560 $144,986,313 $272,813 $258,904 $126 $196,116 97 94.90% 11038 19.71
January 2009 426 $111,287,940 $277,734 $261,239 $210 $175,000 115 94.06% 10802 25.35
February 2009 439 $109,311,231 $265,455 $249,000 $203 $181,000 110 93.80% 11015 25.09
March 2009 626 $157,801,895 $267,561 $252,079 $126 $183,444 124 94.21% 11150 17.81
April 2009 574 $153,971,582 $289,739 $268,243 $130 $180,303 120 92.58% 11275 19.64
May 2009 736 $189,268,235 $275,520 $257,157 $127 $182,638 118 93.33% 11286 15.33
June 2009 784 $205,293,508 $277,846 $261,853 $132 $192,500 117 94.24% 11194 14.27
July 2009 814 $211,259,465 $277,150 $259,532 $131 $181,000 122 93.64% 11137 13.68
Annual:   7644 $2,011,687,357 $279,047 $263,172 141 $186,950 110 94.31% 11231 17.63
 
Annual: 2007 – 2009 18230 $5,184,198,573 $298,579 $284,377 150 $197,245 101 95.24% 11417 15.03

Note: The “Current Inventory” column(s) reflect the number of active and contingent (on market) listings on the 16th day of each month.
The “Months Inventory” column(s) value(s) equal “Current Inventory” divided by “Monthly Sales”.
This reflects how many months it would take to sell out of inventory at the current month’s rate of sale. 

Average price per square foot has been holding steady for four months.  Inventory is creeping downward ever so slowly.  Months of inventory is clearly down.  Sales vs last year are down, but not at as drastic a rate as 2008 vs 2007.  We may have seen the worst of it, but this is only speculation. 

What will it look like when we’ve turned the corner in Charleston?  I’d like to see average price per square foot continue to square off if not rise by a couple of bucks.  The months of inventory and absolute numbers are still crazy high which is NOT good for the future of home prices.  It would be good to see them start dropping, but this probably isn’t going to start happenning until we see some of the other economic indicators start improving, like retail sales, and employment.  

Sellers, homes are selling but only if the home is priced right out of the gate.  The buyer doesn’t care how much you owe or how much you’ve invested.  Keep in mind, hopefully when you go to buy, you’ll be able to take advantage of the buyers market once you’ve sold your home.  Time is on the buyer’s side and they’re looking for bargains.  Make sure your home is maintained, decluttered and well staged.

Good News About Charleston

I”ve always report the real numbers here at allthingscharleston and my message all along has been, “maybe this is a good time to buy; maybe it’s not.  It depends on your situation.”  I’m less optimistic than my fellow real estate agents and besides, any message that says, “Now is a great time to buy.” is bound to be perceived as self-serving anyway.  What do you expect the real estate association to say?  “The market is crap and if you’re smart, you’d wait it out at least another six months?”  In fact, that probably is the best advice for most of you; however, if you’re moving to Charleston or are ready to move UP in price, this can be a good time.  Also, there is a lot of good news about Charleston on the natoinal scene.  It really is a great place to live depending on what you’re into.  If you want amusement parks and a world class nightlife club scene, Charleston probably isn’t your place.  But if you like good food, fun and friendliness, Charleston is awesome.  The weather is great if you know how to take care of yourself in the heat.  (like stay inside if you’re from Minnesota) 

If you’re interested in learning more about Charleston, this is a great link, particularly if you are comparing cities.

http://www.pressomatic.com/ctar/upload/Charleston_Real_Estate_GoodNewsAboutCharlestonMarket.pdf

Let me know your thoughts.