First Charleston Real Estate Market Update of 2008

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written an update, but there really isn’t any new news.  You’ve heard the news about the “mortgage meltdown”.  Inventories in Charleston are high, and sales are flowing like mud.  Thick red clay mud that is.  Prudential is using their huge marketing budget to tell us that now is a good time to buy.  If you need to buy right now because you’re moving, fine.  Prices are not that likely to go down a great deal, and interest rates are very low right now.  Otherwise, if you’re on the fence…stay on the fence and keep coming back to check on the trend.  Look for when the inventory is turning around.  After that, prices should stabilize, and possibly start creeping back up again….we’ll see.  Not to be a gloomy gus, but I can’t in good concience tell buyers that this is a good time to buy.  Keep an eye on interest rates and do the math.  Interest rates don’t move that fast, so you’ll have time if they start creeping back up. 

 Talk to me out there people.  Tell me your thoughts, feelings, whatever. 

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5 responses to “First Charleston Real Estate Market Update of 2008

  1. Jim,

    I’m curious why you believe that prices aren’t likely to go down a great deal if inventory is high and almost nothing is selling.

    Is the key to your point “a great deal”? I would think that scenario would almost define a situation in which prices would go down.

  2. Actually, Paul. I would have expected that houses would already have gone down more than they have. If you look at the data in previos reports, you see that home prices stayed fairly constant while inventories continued to rise steadily, and sales steadily declined.

    I can’t predict the future, no one can. There is no key to my point really. I have been able to get pretty good deals for my clients in this market. But then, what is a good deal when we really don’t know what the future holds. Interest rates are down, and things will improve if the banks and government come up with a way that makes it easier for a home buyer to buy a home without a huge downpayment. How many people are going to change their spending habits so they’re able to save? I have no idea. How about you?

  3. I whole heartedly agree with Prudential’s push that “it’s a great time to buy”. If you look most neighborhoods in the Tri-county area you will notice that inventories have peaked around August of 2007. Since then we have seen a steady increase of buyer activity to close out last year and this year has really gotten off to a hot start. The average sales price of homes has consistently risen over the years and I see no reason why people would suddenly stop wanting to move to Charleston. New construction has started lowering their incentives to buyers as well which also indicates that there are more buyers looking now than before. There is no way that we could keep the pace that was happening in the early part of this decade but even with the last couple of years home prices are still up. Nationally the market may not be the best but to say that it is a “bad” market here in Charleston is like looking at a national weather map and applying that to Charleston, it just doesn’t make sense.
    Jay Mann
    Realtor
    Prudential Carolina Real Estate
    843-209-0400

  4. Thanks for expressing your opinion Jay. I appreciate it. The public doesn’t always have access to the real facts like agents do. Agents can look at the real sales numbers and see that sales are less than pathetic.

    I still maintain my stance that if your life situation dictates that it’s time to move, buying in Charleston now will work out in the long run. This isn’t the stock market. Prices on existing homes will probaly fall before the market levels off, although I don’t think we need to be alarmed about them plummeting like they have in other areas. Rates are very low, and there are some deals out there. Just make sure you have an agent that gives you the straight facts about the market, and is capable and willing to do the work to help you find the right buy.

    Sales were not up at the end the year according the the information in the MLS. Readers, look at the facts. I’ll do another update soon and post the information directly from the MLS un-edited.

    People have not stopped wanting to move to Charleston. I have several buyers on hold because their homes aren’t selling where they are. Hawaii, Florida, Easthampton, Atlanta…I have prospective buyers from all over that can’t move here until they sell their current houses.

  5. I would disagree on waiting to buy. If there is some wonderous sign that will fall out of heaven to signal the market is a good as it is going to get for buyers please let me know what it is and I will watch for it.
    Prices are not going to plummet and allow buyers to get homes at giveaway prices. Interest rates are still very low. I honeslty can’t see them falling any lower and the mortgage people I have spoken to agree. They may remain the same for awhile but I don’t see any big downward trends.
    Finally, there have been a lot of foreclosures in this area lately. Many people have been misinformed about these properties. Once the home has been foreclosed on and the bank owns it, you can purchase a clear title when you buy the property. One of my clients thought there was a 1 year perriod where those that lost their home can reclaim it if they come up with the money. That is tax sales, not foreclosures. There are some great deals out there and banks and their holding companies are losing money by maintaining an inventory of homes they don’t want. Banks will still negotiate with buyers. Don’t overlook this section of the market. It is not just older homes in bad neighborhoods. There are some real diamonds in the rough out there, especially if a little paint and hard work don’t frighten you.

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