Grand Strand real estate market no longer dependent on lower priced sales

sjones@thesunnews.comJuly 14, 2014 

New homes for sale at the H&H Homes Green subdivision. Photo by Tom Murray

TOM MURRAY — For The Sun News

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    Where the sales are:

    Closed sales of single-family homes and condos, June 2014 vs. June 2013

    Conway: Up 75.8 percent

    Andrews: Up 50 percent

    Little River: Up 37.6 percent

    North Myrtle Beach: Up 36.5 percent

    Garden City/Murrells Inlet: Up 31.4 percent

    Carolina Forest: Up 21.9 percent

    Pawleys Island/Litchfield: Up 21.2 percent

    Socastee: Up 8.6 percent

    Georgetown: Up 7.7 percent

    Myrtle Beach: Down 11.9 percent

    Surfside Beach:: Down 15.6 percent

    Loris: Down 32.3 percent

    Aynor: Down 80 percent

    Source: 10K Research and Marketing

Single-family home sales jumped 11.5 percent in June from June 2013 in Horry and Georgetown counties, enough of a surge to push the year’s mostly tepid sales activity up nearly 2 points to a 6 percent growth over the first half of last year.

But the real story lies in a closer examination of what’s happening.

“I think we are looking at a shift in the market,” said Laura Crowther, CEO of the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors.

No longer is the area’s real estate market dependent on sales of homes priced $150,000 and below, according to numbers from SiteTech Systems. The growth area in June, and indeed for all of 2014 so far, has been in homes in the $200,000 to $400,000 price range.

The same is true throughout the state, S.C. Realtors reported, where sales from Charleston and Myrtle Beach to Greenville grew in the middle and upper price range while the activity at lower price points slowed.

And a 10K Research and Marketing report showed that sales of homes priced from $200,000 to $250,000 surged by 23 percent in June.

Marvin Heyd, president of Prudential Myrtle Beach Real Estate, said sales at his company grew by 20 percent to 30 percent during June, making it one of the better Junes in recent times.

“Everything just fell into place,” he said.

Not only that, but Heyd said the sales surge came at a time when many available properties are rented for the season and more difficult to show than at other times of the year.

Except for March, sales every month since January have either been flat or even down a little this year, a distinct change from the first six months of 2013, when the area’s market was showing its first sustained growth since the real estate bubble burst several years earlier.

March sales were up 13.4 percent from a year earlier, but came crashing down to a drop of more than 6 percent in April compared to April 2013.

But even then, according to SiteTech Systems, homes in the middle price range were the bulwark.

SiteTech reported that 204 homes priced between $200,000 and $400,000 sold in Horry and Georgetown counties in June, 93 more than in the second highest selling price range, $150,000 to $200,000.

For the year, 990 homes priced $200,000 to $400,000 have sold, 387 more than the second highest range, $100,000 to $150,000.

The June surge helped propel Michelle Duncan, Realtor at Prudential Myrtle Beach, to her second agent of the month award.

Duncan said she closed on five homes during the month for a total she thought was around $600,000, a number she corrected to $730,000 after checking.

“I really don’t keep up with all those numbers,” said Duncan, a former Horry County educator.

Duncan believes that July is going to look pretty good, based on pending sales. She said that there is a noticeable hump of sales pending in the $120,000 to $175,000 range, which should help make July another significant month.

Indeed, the 10K report shows the same outlook, with 715 pending sales at the end of June, up 34.4 percent from June 2013.

The same good news that enveloped the single-family home market in June did not extend to condominiums, which continued to lag behind 2013 sales.

Crowther said she thinks at least part of the reason for the bounding single-family home market is that there are relatively fewer distressed properties for sale, again a trend not as robust in the condo market.

Much of the lower-price activity in single-family homes that carried the market through much of the recession has fallen away, Crowther said, which has shifted the focus to homes that cost more.

The move is very significant as it will tend to raise prices at all levels. The median sales price for single-family homes in June, $193,929, is up 5.1 percent since the first of the year.

Duncan, who is still on the low side of two years as a Realtor, said she left education because it was getting more frustrating than rewarding, a dynamic she hasn’t found true in real estate.

She said she expects to reach Prudential’s $3 million 2014 sales goal for her sometime this month. And she’s already upped her personal goal for the year to $4 million in sales.

“This is a very rewarding job,” she said. “You make people happy.”

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765 or on Twitter @TSN_sjones.

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