Spring has sprung, it’s sunny and seventy-six, the skies are cerulean, and glee is in the air (as well as lots of pollen). It just makes me feel a bit giddy so please forgive my Fun-with-Alliteration. 🙂 But let’s get serious about the spring real estate market in Downtown Charleston. Have we been hampered by the Polar Vortex? By the sometimes cringeworthy Bravo show Southern Charm? By Forbes and the Wall Street Journal saying the housing market is slowing down? I think not…
Let’s take a look at some statistics in each of the areas that comprise Downtown Charleston in the MLS. In Charleston Realtor speak, Area 51 is south of the Crosstown (Highway 17), and comprises the neighborhoods of South of Broad, Harleston Village, French Quarter, Ansonborough, Wraggborough, Eastside, Radcliffeborough, Cannonborough/Elliotborough, and the King Street Historic District. Area 52 is above the Crosstown and includes the neighborhoods of the Westside, parts of the Eastside, North Central, Wagener Terrace, Hampton Park Terrace, Longborough and Lowndes Point. See my neighborhood map for a visual on this…
First, let’s see how many properties are for sale.
Note that in both areas – less than half the number of properties are for sale today as there were in mid-2009. In Area 52 – we are at the lowest level EVER. Could that be the reason why THEY say “home sales are slowing down”, because there just aren’t as many homes to buy?? Seems reasonable. So let’s look at closed sales in Downtown Charleston to confirm…
In both areas – you can see the higher end segments show significant growth in sales. This reflects not only a rise in median prices, but also a loosening of the wallet, a bull market in stocks and funds, and a proliferation of excellent jumbo loan rates.
The statistic I find most interesting is the 65% increase in sales under $369,800 in Area 51. Investor groups have come pouring into Charleston (adding to the handful that are already here) and buying up fixer uppers in Elliotborough and the Eastside like they are going out of style. They are also buying off market properties they find out about through the grapevine, then the agent who represents them enters it in the MLS (for comp purposes only) and it is counted as a sale. And keep in mind there are many, many more properties sold privately with no agent involved, and these sales are NOT reflected in that number 43!! (I’d venture to say we are closer to 80.) These handful of investors are dominating that lower end market.
So, let’s move on to everyone’s favorite statistic – median prices.
Doesn’t those squiggly lines make you wish you bought in December 2011? Or didn’t sell?? Stop berating yourself – it’s almost impossible to time the market precisely…:)
But here’s what I find most interesting about these graphs. While we still have a long way to go to reach 2007’s peak silly prices in Area 51, we are only $2,750 away in Area 52. Now that doesn’t mean there is silliness going on and you should commence worrying – it means that Area 52 has absolutely transformed in the past seven years. Streets that once had rows of derelict houses now feature shiny new ones. Countless restaurants have opened up above the Crosstown, making living there even more convenient, and many public schools have been rebuilt and reoriented, giving families the confidence their children can get a better education on the Peninsula. Median prices have been on the rise, because median incomes have been on the rise, and Generation Y buyers are flocking to this area, just a hop skip and a jump to everything Historic Downtown has to offer. Even USA Today is up on the trend with this article about Charleston as a “post-college town, brimming with youth and jobs.”
So have you drawn the same conclusions that I have? Or do you have insight into data that could be sliced and diced another way? Either way, one thing we all know to be true – Charleston itself is on the rise as a one of the best Southern Cities to live in and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.
After all – where else in the country can you get a view like this??