Housing inventory hits 20-year low, prices up

Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:33 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The price of a home in Charleston continues to skyrocket as more people flock to the area.

“We cannot build houses fast enough to keep up with demand of people migrating to our city,” Matt O’Neill, CEO of Matt O’Neill Real Estate, said.

Data generated by the Multiple Listing Service shows the Charleston area has hit its lowest supply of houses in 20 years with around 2,300 homes on the market. The same data shows a need for 10,000 more listings to bring the market back into balance.

“There’s a migration happening in the United States. As soon as everyone was given the all clear to work from home people started to realize they didn’t have to live in climates they didn’t want to live in anymore,” O’Neill said.

The demand and historically low interest rates have pushed prices up around 16 percent in a single year, which O’Neill says is roughly triple the normal pace. That kind of growth can push some wage earners out of certain areas of the city which can cause problems.

“It puts stress on everything,” O’Neill said. “There are people who need to serve everyone who can’t afford to live in the places where they work and then that puts stress on our roads, ect. Affordable housing is something that the government officials of Charleston just need to get their hands around.”

While homes are flying off the market, affordability is still at the root of any good transaction. Rusty Hughes is the president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. He says homes are selling at every price range and argues houses are constantly shuffling in and out of the market.

“The median price overall is low $300,000s right now,” Hughes said. “Speaking on a national level, Charleston, Dorchester and Berkley Counties are still are affordable.”

However, many of these homes are barely hitting the market, if they do at all, before the bidding war begins.

“Realize that you’re not going to be the only one looking so you have to try to put your best foot forward, really figure out what’s important to you and your situation and go for it,” Hughes said. “Sometimes you’re going to do everything you can do and it might not be the right time. You might have to go on to the next one.”

That was the lesson Matthew Kendra had to learn. He and his family are moving to Mount Pleasant from Washington, D.C. He says they lost several homes before they were able to get under contract with another one on Sunday.

“Be ready to move fast because houses pop up and then they pop right off,” Kendra said “If you don’t have all your financing in and all these other things in, you’re going to lose it to some bidder who came in with cash. It’s a crazy time.”

Kendra can work from home and found Charleston to be more desirable than Washington D.C. or his previous home in San Francisco. He enlisted the help of Caroline Treece at Matt O’Neill Real Estate. Coming from those markets, he says he was able to stretch his budget a little further.

“It was still a stretch for us though,” Kendra said. “We thought it would be a lot less expensive than it was and it was still pretty pricey. It’s still hard but way easier than other parts of the country.”

Both realtors says the expect prices to continue to rise in 2021.

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