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The number of home sales in the Hilton Head area increased by more than 20 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year -- a bigger jump than any other part of the state, including the Beaufort area, where sales also were relatively strong.
But home prices in both areas are still depressed.
Those are the findings of the year-end report released Thursday by the S.C. Realtors. The report shows:
It's proof of a slow and steady housing market recovery, according to Edward Dukes, agent with Lowcountry Real Estate in Beaufort.
"That's the healthiest way for us to come out of it," Dukes said. "Things are definitely getting better each year -- (2012) finished a better year than it started, and 2011 was better than '10," he said.
And although home prices are still low, Dukes notes that's true for all of the S.C. coast.
"That's just the reality of being on the coast that was harder hit than the rest of the state," he said.
In the Hilton Head area, lower-priced homes, in the $100,000 to $375,000 range, are selling well, with as little as six month's worth of inventory on the market, said Jean Beck, executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.
"But when you start to get into the higher price-point and luxury homes, it's still 18 to 20 months of inventory there," said Beck, who is also optimistic about the new statistics.
"We're feeling confident. We're seeing a lot of positive signs," she said.