Home sales continued to rise sharply in the Hilton Head area in January, though the trend is tempered -- and driven, according to some local Realtors -- by a modest drop in the median selling price from last year.
The monthly report, released Wednesday by S.C. Realtors, reflects similar patterns borne out in 2011, when the Hilton Head area witnessed a 9.4-percent spike in total sales and a 5-percent decline in the median selling price.
Total Hilton Head-area sales this January were up 20.2 percent over 2011, while their median price dropped 4.5 percent, to $238,750.
"We haven't gotten to the bottom yet; people are picking up good values," said Hilton Head Realtor Charles Sampson. "Once that bottom echelon of properties are sold, buyers will move up in price."
The trends are probably more driven by a higher rate of foreclosures and short sales in Bluffton and the surrounding area than on the island, said Realtor Andy Twisdale.
S.C. Realtors takes into account several counties in its designation of the "Hilton Head area," which spans southern Beaufort County and goes as far inland as Orangeburg and Bamberg. Twisdale said the market on the island is healthier than the report indicates.
There were 11 more homes sold on the island in the first six weeks of 2012 than in that period in 2011, Twisdale said, adding that the median selling price went up about $25,000, to $480,000.
The trends were reversed in Beaufort, where total sales dropped 24.2 percent and the median selling price rose 2.3 percent.
Edward Dukes, a Beaufort-based Realtor, said the local data sample size -- of 47 homes sold, down from 62 -- was too small to indicate any meaningful trend.
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