As a Realtor for nearly 30 years, the question of how the market is doing is one that has been asked many times, but never so often as it has recently. Everyone wants to know how the real estate market is doing because it affects so many other industries. From construction workers, to landscapers, architects, attorneys, and decorators to plumbers, real estate truly makes the world go around for a lot of professionals.
This became even more evident over the past 5 years as the market tumbled. With a slow, but steady recovery in place, national and local media outlets are reporting on the improving market so naturally, inquiring minds want to know.
It is important for everyone to keep in mind that real estate is local. What the market is doing in Los Angeles has nothing to do with what is happening in New York. Even the Case Schiller report from which so many news outlets share data, only comes from 20 markets. It may be a snapshot of real estate activity in a very broad sense, but it has nothing to do with individual markets unless yours is one of the 20 areas studied.
Here in Myrtle Beach, we continue to see a lot of interest in oceanfront, ocean view and golf course property. So much so, that inventory has dropped to levels that have created pockets of appreciating property as well as multiple offers. The Grand Strand, which encompasses Little River, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Conway, Carolina Forest, Surfside Beach, Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island and Georgetown saw single family homes sales up by 32% in 2012, over 2011. Condominium sales were up almost 12% and residential lot sales were up slightly more than 40%. These are great numbers that have sparked a lot of interest, hence the increased question of: "So how's the real estate market?"
Last month, we saw our inventory continue to stabilize without any increases or drops in inventory. With the Spring golf traffic right around the corner, there will be plenty of buyers interested in property along the beach. Pent up demand is at one of the highest levels I have seen in 30 years and additional inventory will be needed to satisfy these buyer's needs. The recent Myrtle Beach Marathon was a great success with hundreds of participants and thousands of visitors. This spike in traffic created a lot of activity in our offices which resulted in more showings and interest in property for sale. In fact, we have seen activity from as far away as China!
Along with this stabilization and pockets of appreciation, we have seen foreclosures and short sales drop significantly on the Grand Strand. In fact, the distressed inventory for the Myrtle Beach market fell for eight straight months. This phenomenon seems to be echoed in the recent FNC Residential Price Index (RPI) which shows continuing momentum in the U.S. housing market with home prices rising to a two-year high in December.
So the answer to the question of "how is the real estate market doing?" is very simple: pretty good! We expect to see a continuation of the same thing we've witnessed over the last year and this means an improving market resulting from low inventory, a continued drop in distressed property and a lot of pent-up demand being unleashed on this beautiful area we call the Grand Strand.