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Real Estate

LOWCOUNTRY MARKET SIZZLES DURING THE SUMMER

The superheated market for Lowcountry home sales sizzled into summer, with no sign of significant slowing.

Scarce inventory, low interest rates and a pandemic-inspired trend to work from home are driving sales and pushing prices for homes on Hilton Head and Bluffton.

“Those conditions have not dissipated,” said Jean Beck, chief executive of the 1,500-member Hilton Head Area Realtors.

A handful of numbers compiled by the association tells the story:

Inventory

Compared with a year earlier, homes for sale in June in the overall market — covering Hilton Head, Bluffton and much of Beaufort and Jasper counties — declined nearly 66 percent, to 654 from 1,910. Bluffton inventory fell 76 percent, to 174, compared with 727. Available single-family homes (excluding condos and villas) in Hilton Head slipped 67.3 percent, to 150 from 459.

Median Prices

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Demand in the overall market generated a 12.7 percent increase in median prices, to $400,000 from $355,000, compared with June 2020. Hilton Head median prices jumped 39.9 percent, to $850,000 from $607,500. Bluffton median prices increased 11.1 percent, to $356,555.

Prices Received

For the overall market, selling prices fetched 100.2 percent of asking prices. The percent of list price received was 99.8 percent in Hilton Head and 100.7 percent in Bluffton.

Real estate sales veterans said supply-and-demand forces are encouraging multiple offers and swift sales.

Charles Sampson, of the Charles Sampson Group of Charter One Realty, said the Hilton Head and Bluffton markets remain popular with out-of-state buyers seeking “a vacation atmosphere.”

Added Shaun McTernan, president of the Realtors association: “We live in a paradise.”

Sampson, a real estate professional since 1985 and a Hilton Head resident for nearly 50 years, said the area appeals to urban dwellers from around the nation who want to work from home, especially as they near retirement. 

Potential buyers need to move quickly in today’s competitive sales market, he said. One Oregon couple talked by FaceTime with Sampson in the morning, reviewed available properties by computer during the day and made an offer by evening, Sampson said.

“You have to be ready. You have to be prepared,” he said.

Real estate professionals said current market conditions underscore the importance of three “Cs” — Cash, Closing and Contingencies. 

homesales4Cash

The ability to pay cash for a property provides a competitive advantage over buyers who must line up financing, adding potential delays and uncertainty to a deal.

Closing

It’s a tight market. Sellers caught short with the surprisingly quick sale of their home, may seek to delay, rent or lease back their property while looking to relocate. Adding such an option to an offer can encourage agreement

Contingencies

To make an offer more appealing to sellers fielding multiple offers, buyers are urged to work with their agent to include creative sweeteners. Among those: going above the asking price; waiving an appraisal contingency; taking care to sweat the details to make an offer free of potential snags that can slow the deal.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said the national home sales recovery that has followed last year’s pandemic lockdown will be “sustainable for many months ahead as long as mortgage rates remain low and job gains continue.”

Locally, Hilton Head’s Beck said “the economy we are seeing is likely through the balance of the year, with rates remaining low and buyer interest remaining high.”