Home sales are starting to pick up in some parts of South Carolina hardest hit by the real estate crunch, such as the once-overheated coast, and prices are steadily rising in other housing markets that never spiked in the first place.
"We've seen a steady market for the most part, if you take out the highs and lows of the coastal market," said Nick Kremydas, executive director of the South Carolina Realtors Association.
Cities like Aiken and Columbia saw 2010 prices return to 2006 levels and in the Pee Dee and Sumter areas, last year's median sales prices went up 5 percent in the same period.
The small city of Greenwood, about 75 miles west of Columbia, is an ideal example of a steady housing market in South Carolina: There was no run-up in prices during the real estate boom, so there was no bubble to burst when sales dried up. Total sales in the last three years dropped by half, but the median price increased 9 percent in 2010 from 2006.
"We never had that high rise in prices," said Greenwood Mayor Welborn Adams, a real estate attorney who has felt the decline in total sales. "There were no speculators, no one thinking 'I can turn this around and resell it for a profit.'"