Post & Courier Archives Previous story!  Next story!  (4/5 - Index)

Post & Courier Archives

The Post and Courier (South's Oldest Daily!)

Demand for houses raising resale prices

Originally Published on 11/29/98
Page: D1 (Homes Section)
Keyword: Sale; Money

GOING UP: Where are rising house prices headed and what should we think?

House prices are rising in Charleston, and whether that's good news or bad depends on your perspective.

The median resale price of a house in the Charleston metropolitan area increased more than anywhere else in the nation three out of the last four quarters, compared with the same quarters a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The local median resale price rose from $104,100 in the third quarter of 1997 to $122,900 last quarter. That was an 18.1 percent increase, the highest in the nation, according to the Realtors' most recent report.

Median is the midpoint, meaning half sold for less and half for more. Resale means the reports cover previously owned homes and not new houses.

But demand for new houses is a big part of the reason resale prices are rising, according to Al Parish, professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Forecasting at Charleston Southern University.

"We are adding jobs at a remarkable rate - 17,000 new jobs this year - and 80 percent of those involve new people moving into the region", Parish said. "They have to have a place to live, and many of them are making $40,000 a year or more, so they can afford nice houses."

Also, Charleston continues to draw retirees, and many of them come from areas of the country where houses cost more than Charleston, so they have money to spend, he said.

Builders can't keep up with demand in many areas of the Lowcountry, such as Mount Pleasant and Goose Creek, so prices continue to rise.

"It's basically a question of supply and demand", he said.

The average price of a new house in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties rose from $153,637 in the third quarter of to $166,216 in the third quarter of this year, an 8.2 percent increase, according to Market Opportunity Research Enterprises, a company in Rocky Mount, N.C., that tracks the local housing market.

Low interest rates also tend to raise selling prices.

"When it's less expensive to finance, selling prices go up", Parish said.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is about 6-1/2 percent. Parish predicts the rate may drop to 5-1/4 percent by next spring, although not all analysts are quite so optimistic.

Some of the biggest price jumps in existing houses have been in downtown Charleston, Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island, where houses are generally more expensive than elsewhere. Those markets have been fueled by a prospering stock market, which gives stockholders money to invest in real estate, Parish said.

On the other hand, house prices have not been rising in some neighborhoods around the former Navy base in North Charleston, which lost thousands of residents after military cutbacks a few years ago.

What's the overall outlook?

"Up", Parish predicted. "I don't see anything on the horizon to quash this market, except for some kind of dramatic increase in interest rates. Local prices are still below the national average."

The national median resale price in the third quarter was $132,700.

Rising home prices mean good news for Realtors and sellers, although bad news for buyers, especially first-time buyers.

"It's getting harder to find a starter home, and there are fewer of them", Parish said.

But rising prices could be especially bad news for homeowners wondering about their next tax bill.

"That's the time bomb that's ticking away", he said. "If people see their property tax go from $1,000 a year to $4,000, you will see a massive tax revolt. This is a very big problem, and something has to be done very soon".

Residents of Berkeley and Dorchester counties are scheduled for reassessment next year and Charleston County residents the following year.

"We need a cap on reassessment", he said. "That's vital for the coming Legislative session".

ED: Dave Munday can be reached at 937-5720 or at DMunday@PostandCourier.Com.

Previous Story in this Series!  Next Story in this Series!

Windsor Hill Plantation site uses Valid XHTML 1.0. | Windsor Hill Plantation site uses Valid CSS. | Windsor Hill Plantation site is valid in HTML Tidy.

Back to Windsor Hill Parkway Association Home Page! Take me back to the top of Windsor Hill Parkway Association Home Page!
Please vote for Windsor Hill in Top North + South Carolina Web Sites List!
All photos are Copyright © 1998-2017 Windsor Hill Parkway Association.
Copyright © 2017 Award Winning Web Site Designs. All Rights Reserved.
WHPA site is maintained by Bob Chapman (
Site conforms to W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines at Level 1-A.