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Excerpts from yesterday’s Island Packet (our local newspaper):

Home sales fell behind last year’s pace across much of South Carolina in July, but the Hilton Head Island and Beaufort areas bucked the trend.

The two local markets were among only three in the state where more homes sold in July than during the same month a year ago, according to the latest figures from the S.C. Realtors association. The other was the southern Midlands area.

Several local agents said the Lowcountry hasn’t suffered as much as some places from the winding down of a federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

The credit had been set to end in June for those who already had homes under contract. It has been extended through September but with little effect on many markets, as the latest state unemployment rate remains above 10 percent.

The credit hasn’t been used as much here, where many people buy second homes, as it has in “Hometown, USA,” said Charter I Realty & Marketing’s Charles Sampson, president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.

Each month of this year, home sales on Hilton Head and in Beaufort have increased compared to the same month in 2009.

Realtors said buyers who had long poked around the area are deciding to take advantage of low prices and record-low interest rates on mortgages.

HOME SALES

(July 2009, July 2010, percent change)

Hilton Head Island area (188, 225, 19.68%)

Beaufort area (65, 88, 35.38%)

South Carolina (4,208, 3,532, -16.06%)