A ‘worsts’ list, and no South Carolina

sjones@thesunnews.comFebruary 1, 2013 

Eureka!

At last, there’s a national “worsts” list that doesn’t have South Carolina on it.

RealtyTrac’s list of the 20 worst markets for foreclosures in 2012 includes none of the Palmetto State’s metro areas. But truth be told, it could be due to statistical luck.

The ranking is among metropolitan areas with a population of at least 500,000, which is about 200,000 more than current statistics give to the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area. If this area did have a half million residents and it kept its 2012 foreclosure rate, Myrtle Beach would be among the leaders.

In 2012, according to statistics from Tom Maeser, market analyst for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors, sales of distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – were 27 percent of all single family home sales. For foreclosures only, the rate was 19 percent, which also would have made RealtyTrac’s list, but not nearly in the prominent place as when short sales are included.

Or maybe not.

The Greenville, Columbia and Charleston metropolitan areas all have at least 500,000 residents and none made the list. Two of the counties in each of those areas had 2012 foreclosure rates higher than that in Myrtle Beach, according to RealtyTrac. The foreclosure sales of total sales rate was not available for those three areas.

Further, the 20 worst foreclosure areas on RealtyTrac’s list all had increases in their rates from 2011 to 2012. The rate for all sales in Myrtle Beach over the same period fell by 4 percentage points for single family house sales and 8 percentage points for condominiums.

Ah, statistics . . .

But all the lists could be moot now when looking at the Myrtle Beach market, suggested Patricia “Trish” Taylor, a Realtor with Century 21 Boling and Associates.

She said the local real estate market used to be one step forward, three steps back. But since the fourth quarter of 2012, the picture has changed dramatically.

Taylor said her sales in that quarter – typically slow sale months for this market – were the best of any quarter she’s had in the seven years she’s been selling real estate. That pace has continued into January, and she feels real positive now about the future.

She said that the overall improvement of the economy and the resultant surge in consumer confidence are what’s bringing the customers in the door.

Things are so good now, she said, that there are bidding wars for some foreclosed homes.

That will tend to drive down the inventory of foreclosures still on the local market, which could result in sale prices going up across the board.

“I’m just real excited to see the turn,” Taylor said. “If we continue on the path we’re on, this year may be the year we get out.”

Aiming for the majority

TD Bank, which has seven offices from North Myrtle Beach to Murrells Inlet, is offering a new mortgage product it says is tailored to people who earn up to 80 percent of the median area income as determined by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

Called “Right Step,” it features flexible down payment options, simplified underwriting and appraisal processes and the potential for significant savings on mortgage insurance, according to information from the bank.

The bank offers potential home buyers round-the-clock access to lending professionals who it says can answer questions and help ensure that buyers are confident and informed about their loan.

Another waking giant

As homes sales stretch and yawn after a protracted nap, the construction industry seems to have opened its eyes as well.

Construction employment and spending levels nationally hit a three-year high in January, according to figures from Associated General Contractors of America, when building companies nationally added 28,000 new employees.

It was the eighth consecutive month for construction employment gains and the ninth consecutive month that construction spending increased.

The AGC said that the construction industry has added 300,000 jobs in the last two years, nearly 100,000 of which were in September.

Construction firms employed 5.73 million people in January. Construction unemployment fell to 17.7 percent in January 2012 to 16.1 percent last month.

The job additions were for both residential and nonresidential construction.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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