Area’s real estate boomlet now has residuals

sjones@thesunnews.comApril 5, 2013 

People along the Grand Strand have noticed the pickup in real estate sales and some are preparing to get a piece of the again-growing pie.

“The market is improving, that’s the big thing,” Kent Strobel said to explain the uptick of students seeking knowledge at Fortune Academy of Real Estate in Myrtle Beach, an effect that some would call a residual of the improvement.

Strobel, who is community outreach director for Fortune’s South Carolina schools, said enrollment is up 25 percent since January, which is nice but nowhere near the level of the good ole, pre-great recession days.

“When things were really booming,” he said, “the most I had (in a single class) was 57.”

That was way back in 2005-06 when it seemed that you could almost sell the area’s available real estate without even showing it.

There was money to be made and the size of the classes at Fortune reflected that.

Strobel said the real estate license course costs $475 and requires 60 hours of classwork. That can be in two weeks of daytime classes, four weeks of weekend classes or eight weeks of nighttime classes.

Most of the classes are held in the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors’ building on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. But others gather elsewhere, such as the Grand Strand campus of Horry Georgetown Technical College.

Strobel said there were 21 students in the class that just completed the course and, as of Thursday, 18 had signed up for the next session.

But the savvy know there’s more to this boom than just real estate sales, Strobel said.

Fortune Academy also has classes, at $275 for the course, in property management.

Construction jobs increasing

The Associated General Contractors of America reports that the construction industry added 18,000 jobs nationwide, topping for the first time in recent years the 5.8 million construction workers in September 2009.

The AGC says that construction employment saw its lowest point in January 2011 and that the most recent additions brought the industry’s unemployment rate down to 14.7 percent in March, the lowest March rate since 2008.

The exact numbers of new construction jobs locally are not known, but at least some area builders have hired new employees both for crews and supervision. Be assured, though, it’s another residual.

AGC said that the March total was 2.9 percent better than a year ago, a jump of 162,000 jobs.

Survey shows some say now is good time to buy

TD Bank reports that 82 percent of those surveyed think now is a very good or good time to buy a home. Ninety percent of them expect the housing market to stay the same or improve during the next six months.

Their attitude reflects that of Grand Strand Realtors, who have reported that business started improving last fall and has kept the upward pace since.

Local Realtors said that some of their customers had reported banks were unreasonably tight with their credit standards, but that too seems to have eased in the last several months.

TD’s survey showed that most of the 1,519 people surveyed nationally said the lending process was positive overall and their experience with their lenders was excellent or very good.

A smaller percentage, but still more than half, said they had at least a very good experience with their Realtors, home appraisals and inspections, and the length of the process.

Banks, TD deduced from the survey, could do better helping buyers understand the mortgage process, although more than half said that went well for them also.

TD said the survey was conducted March 6-11 by Angus Reid Public Opinion and had a +/- 2.5 percent margin of error.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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