Economist: S.C. moving toward expansion

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published Jan. 14, 2014

The tone is changing when it comes to the economic outlook in the United States and South Carolina, according to economists Stephen Slifer and Joey Von Nessen.

Economist Stephen Slifer speaks during a residential market update hosted by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors today at the North Charleston Coliseum. (Photo by Ashley Barker)
Economist Stephen Slifer speaks during a residential market update hosted by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors today at the North Charleston Coliseum. (Photo by Ashley Barker)
Both said the housing market and economy are on the rise at an event hosted by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors today at the North Charleston Coliseum.

“This is the year the economy is going to get out of slow-growth mode and pick up some momentum,” said Slifer, former chief U.S. economist for Lehman Brothers in New York.

On a national scale, Slifer said consumer confidence is high, home prices are up 13.6% since 2012 and gross domestic product growth is expected to gradually accelerate to 3.3% in 2014.

S.C. economy expanding
Von Nessen, research economist at the Darla Moore School of Business of the University of South Carolina, said the state’s economy is “the little engine that could.” He said it’s transitioning from a recovering economy to an expanding economy because of more stability, consumer spending and job creation.

He said the industry with the most growth in the state during 2013 was construction, which saw a “dramatic increase” in the number of subcontractors being hired by existing builders.

Income levels in the state have been relatively stagnant, according to Von Nessen. But he said, new high-paying construction jobs are contributing to the state’s economy by increasing the average wage.

The finance industry also is growing because of the number of new real estate agents, home insurance providers and jobs related to the construction of housing, he said.

Charleston area housing market on the rise
In the Charleston area, rural Berkeley County closed on 54.9% more residential sales in 2013 than in 2012, according to data from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. The Wando and Cainhoy Plantation area saw an increase of 46.3% in that category, and upper Mount Pleasant recorded a 32.9% rise.

The number of new listings was up 39.1% in the Wando and Cainhoy area in 2013 from 2012, the association said. James Island saw an increase of 29.5% more new listings in that time frame, and Daniel Island rounded out the top three with 23.5% growth.

The number of days a property stays on the market is down in the Charleston area. In 2013, properties were on the market for an average of 77 days. That’s a decrease from 100 days in 2012, 111 days in 2011 and 106 days in 2010.

The average sales price in 2013 went up 7.8% in Charleston to $283,708 from the previous year, and the median sales price went up 8.7% to $206,530.

December sales stronger than expected
For December, the number of residential homes sold at the median price in the Charleston area increased by 12% when compared with the previous year, the monthly report said. The median price of homes sold increased from $200,000 to $222,800 during that time.

A total of 1,077 homes were sold in the region at the median price in December, compared with 894 homes in December 2012.

Charleston Trident Association of Realtors President Corwyn Melette said December sales were stronger than anticipated.

“While we did face several potential issues in 2013, with the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program and slight increases in mortgage rates, our market has proven its strength in the last year,” Melette said. “Median price has increased steadily and at a sustainable pace, and sales have grown significantly. We can look forward to another year of progress in 2014.”

Inventory decreased in 2013, with 5,313 homes listed as “active” for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service.

Berkeley County
The most active part of Berkeley County was Goose Creek and Moncks Corner, between U.S. highways 52 and 17A, which netted 53 sales at a median price of $154,900 during December. A total of 256 homes were sold at a median price of $200,103 in the county.

Charleston County
In Charleston County, 591 homes were sold at a median price of $270,000 during December. Other than Mount Pleasant, which recorded 196 homes sold at a median price of $353,000, West Ashley was the most active area during the month. West Ashley, outside of Interstate 526, had 89 sales at a median price of $225,765.

Dorchester County
Dorchester County, with a median price of $190,000 in December, sold 199 homes. The most active area was North Charleston-Summerville-Ladson, which sold 80 homes at a median price of $206,500.

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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