MYRTLE BEACH — Grand Strand real estate sales dropped in April even though some local Realtors said business was good for them that month.
Single-family home sales along the Grand Strand declined 2 percent in April compared to the same month last year, according to the Multiple Listing Service. Condo sales dropped 8 percent in April compared to April 2011, according to the MLS. Cash sales of houses and condos have also dropped from 51 percent of all sales to 48 percent of all sales.
“Watermark was very busy in April so we are not mimicking those numbers,” said Radha Herring, the broker-in-charge of Watermark Real Estate Group. “We were busy with contracts in April, especially for condos because people like to close before the summer season begins. May was extremely busy as well. This is the season where we sell a lot of condos and we’re in line for June. We’re seeing a steady incline, about 20 percent uptick from this time last year.”
April for Coldwell Banker Chicora Real Estate was also a good month as the company saw an 8 percent increase in sales compared to April 2011, said Director of General Brokerage Rod Smith.
“We have continued to see an increase in the number of contracts and traffic coming in the office,” Smith said.
Herring said sales will go up and down until the housing market stabilizes.
“We will see months where the numbers are not as strong,” Smith said. “Even though there was a small dip in April for sales, the overall trend so far for the year has been up.”
Tom Maeser, a real estate analyst for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors, said the Grand Strand still is in a stagnant market, with a lot of foreclosures coming into the market. He said the area has to get rid of foreclosures to see what happens with the real estate industry.
In Horry County, foreclosure sales dropped during the first three months of this year, down 50.92 percent from the fourth quarter and down 9.60 percent from the first quarter last year, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, a company that tracks foreclosures nationally.
While foreclosure sales are down in Horry County, foreclosure filings nearly doubled - up about 95 percent - during the first three months of this year compared to the same time last year, according to RealtyTrac.
Cash sales dipped slightly in April - from 51 percent to 48 percent - of all real estate sales because the area is starting to see lending institutions loosen up a little on the finance side, according to local Realtors.
“Banks are trying to start make more loans,” Smith said.
Despite a drop in single-family home and condo sales in April, prices jumped, particularly for condos.
The median price - the price at which half sold for more and half sold for less- of condos jumped 10 percent, to $115,000, in April compared to the same month last year, according to the MLS. The median price of a single-family home rose 1 percent, to $157,000, in April compared to April 2011.
The prices increased because a lot of lower-end properties are starting to be moved out of inventory, Maeser said.
“The area got rid of a lot of low end condos at a good deal,” Maeser said.
Herring said the price increase for condos doesn’t surprise her because with condominium units within luxury hotels, also known as condotels, many sellers would rather hold on to their property and collect rent than sell at a lower price, then as summer approaches, the selling prices go up and many buyers know they can capitalize on the summer months into September by collecting more rent.
She said the area is seeing a little bit of an uptick in the price for single-family homes because properties in desirable neighborhoods are depleting, which causes people to have to pay more now.
“Prices are showing us that the market is stabilizing in certain areas,” Smith said. “The market is firming up slowly but surely. With interest rates as low as they are now, it still makes sense to take advantage of it now while you can.”
Mortgage rates have been near or at record lows, keeping home-buying and refinancing affordable, experts say. This week, the average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.75 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s, The Associated Press reported.
Contact JANELLE FROST at 443-2404.