Real Estate News

Condo sales surge the surprise of spring home market

The Sun News file photo

The Grand Strand’s spring home-buying season is showing significant growth over 2014, extending the time of the area’s robust real estate market and reaching from inland to the coast.

“It’s a good bit better than last year,” said Realtor Bill Wilhelm of Surfside Beach Realty who specializes in beach home sales. “It’s probably up 30 percent to 40 percent.”

Wilhelm said he recently closed a deal on a second row, six-bedroom home for about $800,000, the same price a four-bedroom, oceanfront home would have brought last year.

This year, that oceanfront home likely would command a $1 million-plus price tag, Wilhelm said, a testament to the continuing strength of the Strand housing market.

“I think people have got the money saved up and aren’t concerned too much (anymore) with what the stock market is going to do,” he said.

Overall, according to recent figures from the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors, closed sales of single-family homes are up 11.5 percent so far this year versus the same time last year. Condo sales, long a laggard of the Strand’s real estate recovery, are up 10 percent.

When you look at pending sales, the association’s numbers show, the news is even better. Year-to-date, they’re up 29.7 percent for single-family homes and 21.8 percent for condominiums when compared to 2014.

The condo surge showed up in April with a 21 percent jump in sales versus 2014, said Todd Woodard, president of SiteTech Systems, which tracks the Grand Strand real estate market.

Condo sales had begun to show some signs of a wake-up from the recession in February and March, but the size of the April surge took Woodard by surprise.

The condo sales jump is good for more than those that are selling.

“Condo inventory continues to decline year-over-year and is down almost 6 percent from April 2014 levels,” said SiteTech’s April market report for the Realtors association.

At the same time, though, single-family home sales decreased 3 percent in April but remained 12 percent up this year versus the same time in 2014. And unlike much of the rest of the state that is experiencing an inventory crunch, inventory climbed 7 percent along the Strand in April compared to April 2014.

SiteTech also noted the first median sales price dip the area’s seen in a while for single-family homes in April and this year so far, albeit a pretty small one at 1 percent.

Penny Boling of Century 21 Boling and Associates said she believes investors are once again beginning to see condos as good rentals, which would undoubtedly bring more buyers into the market.

But Boling’s territory unlike Wilhelm’s extends to more than just beach property and her perspective is broader when considering the overall market.

“We have broken records all the way back to 2006,” she said of her agency’s business.

The agency saw $22 million in new business in April as compared to $23 million in new business in April 2006, when the former good times were rolling strong.

“Good listings won’t last long in today’s market,” she said.

Boling said her agency is seeing customers primarily from some of the Strand’s stronger feeder markets -- the Northeast, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland. But there was also one couple recently from the state of Washington.

She said they traveled the West Coast to the southern tip of California and didn’t find what they were looking for. So they headed East to continue the search, and stopped and purchased when they got to Myrtle Beach.

Wilhelm said most of the people looking for South Strand beach property are locals.

“We’re experiencing multiple offers again,” Boling said, which is translating into sales at full asking price or even a little better.

And she said that attendance at Sunday open houses is about double this year over last spring, when a Sunday open house would draw about 100 lookers.

As enthused as she is about the area’s real estate market, though, she’s still not willing to call in bad spirits by using the wrong words to describe it.

“It’s not a bubble,” she said. “It’s not a boom. We have a strong market.”

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