Real estate sales and construction are picking up on Hilton Head Island and so is the money raised through town fees, according to town financial statements.
A staff report presented to Town Council on Tuesday indicates more revenue was collected from real estate transfer fees and construction permits between July 1 to Jan. 31 than during the same time span a year ago. The combined increase was 22 percent.
Revenue from real estate fees was $1,223,205, an increase of 17 percent.
Revenue from construction permits totaled $745,060, a 31 percent increase, according to town data.
These increases are "all positive signs of progress and improvements" in the local economy, town manager Steve Riley said, adding that he expects the growth to continue through the rest of the year.
"To me, this shows that the real estate market is slowly but surely improving -- and that's a good thing," said Mayor Drew Laughlin, who also mentioned that his law practice has been helping more people close home sales lately.
As property changes hands and is developed, "you're going to see a positive rebound for many other businesses, as well as the town," said Jean Beck, executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.
The town's financial report indicates properties aren't just being purchased -- they are being improved as well.
Redevelopment construction -- including additions, renovations, pool installation and other types of projects -- accounted for more than two thirds of the construction-permit revenue received so far this fiscal year, which began July 1. The town issued 2,440 construction permits for redevelopment projects between the beginning of this fiscal year and Jan. 31.
Last calendar year marked the first time in three or four years that there were more construction permits issued than in the year before, said Ashley Feaster, executive officer of the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association.
"We're seeing a year that seems to be even more successful and positive than last year," Feaster said, adding, "this is looking like a very good time for our local economy."
The increase in construction is due to low selling prices on homes that buyers are interested in renovating, reduced prices of construction materials like lumber and steel, and more competition among construction firms, Feaster said.