February Market Update
Charleston Residential Real Estate Market Prices Continue Upward Climb
1,122 homes sold in February in the Charleston region at a median price of $257,500 according to preliminary data released today by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors® (CTAR). Last February, 1,276 homes sold at a median price of $240,750. This reflects a 12% decrease in sales volume as compared to last February’s data and a 7% rise in median sale price. Year-to-date, 2,237 homes have sold in the region at a median price of 257,580; in 2017, 2,309 homes had sold at a median price of $240,000—a 3% decline in sales and 7.3% increase in median price when compared to 2017 data.
Inventory has declined by nearly 11% over the last 12-month period, with 4,917 homes listed as “active” for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service (CTMLS) at the end of February.
“We were a bit surprised by the surge of sales last month, particularly with such low inventory at the beginning of the year. This month’s activity was what we expect—very similar to market activity last fall” said 2018 CTAR President Kimberly Lease. “We expect this year to follow a more gradual pace of growth, particularly on the sales side of the market” she concluded.
Preliminary data showed 1,112 homes sold in January in the Charleston region at a median price of $258,000. Updated data now shows 1,115 sales at the same median price.
304 homes sold at a median price of $189,972 in Berkeley County in February, 262 single-family homes and 42 Condos/townhomes. Single-family home sales have declined by about 5% in the County, as median home price has increased by about half a percent in the last year, to $231,045. Condo and townhome sales increased by about 3% as median price increased 11% to $155,000.
There are currently 967 residential properties for sale in Berkeley County—862 single-family homes and 105 condos/townhomes.
536 homes sold at a median price of $301,594 in Charleston County in February, 425 single-family homes and 111 Condos/townhomes. Single-family home sales have increased by just under half a percent in the County, as median home price has increased by about 10% in the last year, to $372,470. Condo and townhome sales declined by 19% as median price increased 2% to $229,000.
There are currently 2,673 residential properties for sale in Charleston County—2,028 single-family homes and 596 condos/townhomes.
212 homes sold at a median price of $189,964 in Dorchester County in February, 189 single-family homes and 23 Condos/townhomes. Single-family home sales have decreased by just under 1% in the County, as median home price has increased by about 7% in the last year, to $227,228. Condos and townhome sales declined by 6% as median price increased 11% to $152,700.
There are currently 686 residential properties for sale in Dorchester County—645 single-family homes and 41 condos/townhomes.
$11 million renourishment project gears up at Folly Beach
Pelicans, terns and herons are first to benefit from a new effort to rebuild the erosion-scarred Folly Beach shoreline.
Bird Key Stono is getting a 40,000-cubic-yard dose of sand dredged from the Folly River. The protected avian sanctuary sits on an estuarine sandbar of about 20 acres at the mouth of the Stono River.
The work at the rookery will be finished in a few days and then the focus shifts to placing pipe on the bottom of the Folly River to carry sand more than 3 miles to the Washout, where it will be pumped ashore to replenish 2 miles of beach.
The shore from 8th Street East to the end of East Ashley Avenue will get some 60,000 dump truck loads of sand beginning in late April.
"This section of the beach is really in pretty bad shape," said Wes Wilson, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers.
The work will happen around the clock and last about three months. During that time, the public can get up-to-date information at an Army Corps website.
The project will be done in 1,000-foot segments of the beach and happen first from the Washout to the end of East Ashley Avenue, then from the Washout to 8th Street East. The pipeline carrying sand from the river to the beach will cross underneath East Ashley Avenue.
"It's very good quality sand," Wilson said.
The $11 million federally funded project is in response to major erosion after Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Irma. Congress approved the funds on an emergency basis after a Corps study determined that the storms claimed much of the sand from a $30 million beach renourishment project done three years ago.
A related but separately funded $2 million project will repair nine timber beach groins from 8th Street East to 14th Street East. The state and the city are splitting the $1 million cost of that work.
The plan is to finish rehabbing the groins before the beach renourishment contractor, Marinex, begins working from the Washout to 8th Street East. That way, Marinex can backfill sand around the groins, said Mayor Tim Goodwin.
"It's a juggling act to get the groins done before the beach renourishment," he said.
The last federal permit needed to repair the groins was awarded Friday, Goodwin said.
Charleston entertained almost 6.9 million visitors last year, a number that blows previous estimates out of the water because it includes short-term rentals for the first time, according to a new report.
The estimate from the College of Charleston's Office of Tourism Analysis is a 27 percent increase from the 2016 estimate of 5.44 million visitors. In addition to short-term rentals, the report includes a better count of beach rentals.
"I don’t think anything has changed that dramatically," Linn Lesesne, board chair of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said of the new report. "I think we just have more information."
By comparison, the visitor count increased almost 7 percent in 2016, up from 5.1 million in 2015, when short-term rentals weren't included.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the jump represented new visitors, and not simply those who had not been counted before. Short-term rentals have mushroomed in the Charleston region over the last few years.
This chart shows the increase in entire-home listings as vacation rentals through Airbnb, from less than 500 in January 2015 to about 3,500 in November 2017, according to the College of Charleston's Office of Tourism Analysis.
"We have gone from zero to about 3,500 whole-house short-term rentals in the last two years," said Wayne Smith, chairman of the college’s department of hospitality and tourism. "That’s a big, big jump."
The biggest increase was in whole-house listings, according to Daniel Guttentag, director of the Office of Tourism Analysis. The number of whole houses listed as vacation rentals through Airbnb swelled from less than 500 in January 2015 to about 3,500 in November 2017.
"The number of private room listings is smaller — roughly a quarter of the entire home listings — but the general upward trajectory has been similar," Guttentag said.
It remains to be seen how the city’s new regulations to crack down on illegal short-term rentals might affect the number of visitors in the future. The new rules particularly target rentals of entire homes by owners who don't live in them.
"When one combines the growth of the short-term rental market with the August eclipse and Charleston’s continued appeal to visitors, it is not shocking to see such an increase in visitors compared to last year," Guttentag said. "At the same time, 6.9 million visitors is still less than what many other destinations receive, such as New Orleans (10.45 million) and Nashville (13.9 million)."
A question many Charleston residents have been raising is how many tourists the historic peninsula can handle. Concerns have been raised over increasing traffic on the narrow streets, the threat to the city's charm and the effect of housing prices for full-time residents.
On the other hand, tourism generated about 14 percent of all the sales in Charleston County in 2015, for a total economic impact of more than $3.7 billion, according to the Office of Tourism Analysis.
An updated report on tourism's economic impact is expected later this week.
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