The first-quarter data for the Columbia, South Carolina housing market from Metrostudy shows a significant year-over-year decline in home sales. Existing home sales fell from 2,173 in 1Q13 to 1,301 in 1Q14, and 40 percent year-over-year decline. Existing home sales peaked in the market during the last year at 3,121 and hit 2,442 closings in fourth-quarter, marking a 46.7 percent decline quarter-over-quarter. New home sales have also struggled in the market with a drop from 539 new-home closings in 1Q13 to 283 in 1Q14, a 47.5 percent fall. New homes experienced the best quarter for sales at 559 in 2Q13. New-home closings also fell from 480 in the fourth-quarter, a 41 percent quarter-over-quarter decline.

A selling point for the Columbia market is affordability to the first-time homebuyer. Existing home median closing price has stuck just over $100,000 for several quarters. During 1Q14, the median price for existing home sales hit $117,000, down quarter-over-quarter from $121,000. Year-over-year the price increased slightly from $116,100. New sales have seen moderate price appreciation over the last year, just creeping over $200,000. Median new-home closing price hit $204,400 in the first-quarter, up from $191,400 year-over-year. However, based on the decreased demand experienced in the market, new-home closing price fell quarter-over-quarter from $217,400.

The median closing price in the Columbia market bodes well for buyers seeking spacious homes. The median existing price per square foot was just $63 for both the fourth and first-quarter. For new homes the median price per square foot in the first-quarter hit $67, dramatic appreciation in the cost per square foot from $55 the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate reported from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was 5.5 percent for the month of June, lower than the national average at 6.3 percent. A lower unemployment rate heading into summer might help boost home sales in the second and third quarters in the Columbia market.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Columbia, SC.