Columbia home sales up 16% in January

Home sales in the metro Columbia market jumped nearly 16% in January as the residential real estate market appears to be on the rebound, S.C. Realtors reported Wednesday.

“All in all, January’s numbers look to start off the year on the right foot,” said Nick Kremydas, CEO of S.C. Realtors.

Last month, 534 homes, condos and villas were sold in the Columbia area compared with 515 for the same month in 2011, the real estate group said. Meanwhile, the median price of homes nudged upward by 1.1% to $144,000 compared with $142,500 for January 2011, and the average number of days on the market shrank 2.8% to 111 from 115 for January 2011.

Columbia’s sales results led the way for the state’s metro markets.

The Charleston Trident market saw sales rise 3.7% to 534 units compared with 515 for January 2011, and the median price climbed 4.7% in January to $179,000 compared with $171,000 for a similar period in 2011. The number of days a house was on the market in Charleston dropped by just one day to 114.

In the Greater Greenville market, sales rose in January by 14.6% to 417 units compared with 364 for January 2011, and the median price for the month rose 5.9% to $143,000 from $135,000 in January 2011. The average number of days on the market declined 3.5% to 107.

Statewide, home sales for January rose 4.3%, while pending sales were up 19.7% to 4,042, for the month. Meanwhile, the inventory of homes for sale dropped 15.2% to 47,916 units, and new listings dropped 4.1% to 8,427 residential units. Across the state, the median sales price increased 3.4% to $145,000.

The Hilton Head area and the Greater Pee Dee market reported strong sales gains for the month at 20.2% and 16.5% respectively, but Beaufort was down 24.2%. The Southern Midlands market, which includes Orangeburg County, was down 31.6%.

In reviewing 2011, the organization noted that foreclosures remained a dominant story.

“People should occupy homes, not banks,” the association said, “which means qualified buyers need reliable access to mortgage capital, and distressed properties may need further attention in 2012 to expedite transfer of ownership and tax-base recapture.”

Encouraging economic news and a lower unemployment rate should boost the residential market, the group said.

“Improvements in the labor market will spur housing demand through new household formations, improve family financials and galvanize consumer confidence,” the association said.

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