The Grand Strand housing market bounded back in a big way in March, with single-family home closings showing a 13.4 percent increase over the same month a year ago, according to a report from SiteTech Systems, which tracks the area’s real estate market.
And while that jump broke a string of several flat months for the local home market, SiteTech President Todd Woodard said he’s going to have to see the April report before he’ll be ready to say whether the March numbers are a trend or an anomaly.
According to the numbers, 456 home sales closed in March as compared to 402 in March 2013 and 357 in March 2012. Year-to-date numbers are up too, according to the SiteTech report, with 1,105 home closing recorded for the Grand Strand this year versus 1,048 in the first quarter of 2012. The median single-family home price was $180,000 in March as compared to $174,995 in March 2013 and $166,900 two years ago.
Condo sales were off slightly in numbers this March versus last, the report said, but the median sales price, $108,000, beat the median sales price of March 2013 by more than occurred in single-family homes.
Woodard said that his numbers would run counter to the feeling locally that last winter’s market was slower than the year before because Mother Nature bore down on the area like a woman scolding her children. He said since his numbers record closings, the sales likely took place in December, January and February.
Tad Fulford, broker manager for Re/Max Southern Shores, said he’s a little bit surprised at the jump because he tracks the same numbers and as he recalls, agents lost a week in January and another in February from ice storms. In between, it seemed, it rained and was very cold.
But he and Marvin Heyd, president of Prudential Myrtle Beach Real Estate, said their phones have been off the hook as agents booked appointments with people who had called saying they are coming to the Grand Strand and want to look at real estate.
“Our agents say a lot of people are coming to town,” said Fulford.
When they get here, Heyd said, “They’re pulling the trigger. They’re buying.”
Both feel this year will be OK for Grand Strand real estate, but both expect 2015 to be the time when the real estate market will return to historic trends of good growth and modest price increases.
Fulford said that so far, two important indices have been in favor of sales to continue at a good, although not spectacular rate the rest of the year.
“I think loans are easier to get,” he said. “Rates are a little bit higher, but not scary.”
Heyd said the supply of homes is tight now in part because the rental market is so strong that some sellers are pulling their homes off the sales market to put tenants in them. Condos are coming off the market so their owners can rent them during the tourist season.
Sales, though, are going about as you’d expect nevertheless, he said.
“The strong markets have always been the early spring through May,” Heyd said. “Then it slows down during the summer and picks up again in the fall.”
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.