Back in December, South Carolina’s two largest metropolitan areas – Charleston and Columbia – both found themselves on a national list of cost-effective alternatives to “megapricey” major American metropolises. At the time, these “secondary markets” were poised for huge growth. It seemed as though the future for the Palmetto State’s real estate market was so bright … it had to wear shades.
Obviously, that was then. Over the last month, storm clouds have overtaken the horizon. The American economy has effectively shut down in response to the global coronavirus pandemic … and all of a sudden every industry is reeling.
Will the real estate market survive?
We address that question in a recent post, promising our readers we would keep a close eye on any data we were provided.
Earlier this week, the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR) released some data – announcing that 1,672 homes had sold in the Charleston region during the month of March at a median price of $287,045. Last March, 1,577 homes had sold at a median price of $275,045.
Year-to-date, CTAR reported a ten percent increase in home sales and a seven percent uptick in median price.
“We had a lot of interest and activity from buyers prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in our community,” Bobette Fisher, CTAR president, said in a statement. “The strong activity in March positions us well for the inevitable impact of the global pandemic on our market.”
However, it wasn’t all good news. Inventory data showed a 22 percent decline in listed homes over the prior twelve-month period – with only 4,921 homes listed for sale in the regional database at the end of March.
“One of the most immediate impacts is on our already low level of inventory, as some homeowners have taken their homes off the market temporarily, out of concern for their health and safety” Fisher added. “Charleston is in a somewhat unique position in that we continue to see buyer interest and demand in our market even as we progress through this highly unusual situation. I anticipate a strong return for our market, post-pandemic, but we likely have several challenging months ahead.”
Graeme Moore – a prominent realtor in Columbia, S.C. – told us strong March numbers should not lull anyone into a false sense of security.
“Those were closings on the books before the pandemic,” Moore told us, referring to the Charleston data. “Those contracts were likely written in January to mid-February with closing dates slated for March. Mid-April through May closings will tell the real story.”
We will continue to keep tabs on this situation as it develops. As we noted in our last post, while we hope for the best … “buyers, sellers and those who derive their livelihoods from the industry should probably prepare for the worst.”
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? We have an open microphone policy! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE. Want to help support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.