To summarize the 2008 Real Estate market in the Charleston and surrounding areas one could easily say it was “it was not a banner year”.

2009 has already showed signs of improvement and activity has been steady at Dunes Properties downtown Real Estate Studio on King Street. Sellers have finally decided to price their home(‘s) to sell based upon todays market and not 2004-2005 levels. Buyers from the Northeast,Midwest,Southeast and West coast have made the decision to move to our city because this is where they want to live. In doing so they have adjusted the pricing on their home to make this transition possible realizing that they can now find “value” in our marketplace and make-up some of the potential loss that might occur when the sell their home in 2009.

The charts listed below focus on # of transactions and median price of homes in the Charleston and surrounding areas for the periods 2001-2008. In all areas with the sole exception of “Ion” we experienced double digit transaction decreases from 2007. These decreases range from 8.6% to 50.7%.

Median prices only increased in The City of Charleston, Daniel Island and North Charleston inside of I526. Numbers do not lie but can be interpreted in many different ways. They are at best a guide to what has happened and not what can happen. Our new President has already inspired millions of people to help make a difference. A can-do attitude can lead to many positive changes, especially in Real Estate.

What is happening? There are 30 yr fixed mortgage rates as low as 4.5% for qualified buyers, an incentive that will not be here in years to come. Fewer investors are buying property with the intention to “flip” their property for a considerable short term gain. Owners with adjustable rate mortgages that mature in 2010-2011 are feeling pressure to sell and/or refinance when possible to avoid higher interest rates to follow. Buyers are “buying” properties with the intention of making Charleston their permanent residence. Banks are beginning to ease up on some of the lending requirements for qualifying for loans. There are “great values” in downtown areas such as South of Broad, Ansonborough, Harleston Village, and the French Quarter as well as beach destinations such as Folly Beach, Wild Dunes, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. The are buyers for homes priced at a value and homes appropriately priced will sell.

In closing, January 2009 is off to a solid start. There is optimism about the economy, our new President, interest rates, gas prices, etc. It will still be a very challenging year for the economy and the real estate market but it certainly will be better then the second half of 2008.

-Joe Spector