Hilton Head Home Sales Down 25% in First Quarter


Area real estate down but agents remain hopeful

April 11, 2008

By JIM FABER – Island Packet

One quarter of the way into 2008, the local real estate market is weaker than it was at the same point last year, according to data from the Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island.

Through the first three months of this year, 474 homes and villas were sold in the area the local Multiple Listing Service covers, which is primarily the Hilton Head and Bluffton area, but also includes some sales in Jasper and other nearby counties.

Those 474 homes represent a 25 percent decrease from the 633 homes and villas sold in the first three months of 2007.

Prices also were down, as the median price fell to $320,500 from $343,000 in 2007, a 6.5 percent drop. Median price is the middle number between the highest sale price and the lowest price.

Average price fell to $479,944 from $500,552, roughly a 4 percent drop.

Linda Palmer, president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors and a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty, believes the local market is still strong, but people who want to move here are having trouble selling their homes elsewhere, she said.

The Hilton Head area is still an attractive place to live, with plenty of great houses to choose from and plenty of access to mortgage money at good interest rates, Palmer said.

“I’m having more buyers contact me,” she said. “I’ve talked to other agents, and they say they’re busy.”

James Wedgeworth, a Realtor with Charter I Realty & Marketing and one of the top-selling agents on the island, said Hilton Head sellers have been less inclined to drop prices than in other parts of the country.

While many homeowners across the country have to sell because they are moving, many Hilton Head sellers have second homes on the market and don’t face as much pressure to find a buyer, Wedgeworth said. Those sellers can wait out a soft market.

Wedgeworth said some second-home buyers are staying away because of the negative media coverage of the national real estate market. They believe they might get a better deal six months later.

The big question is when the market will turn around. Both Palmer and Wedgeworth said that’s impossible to know.

Statewide real estate sales totals have also been down this year. Realtors reported a statewide sales drop of 19.7 percent for homes and villas sold in January and March when compared to last year. Median price was down 1.8 percent statewide to $146,000.

Statewide data for March are not available yet, according to the state Realtors group.


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