If you’re looking to sell a home in Beaufort County this year, the market looks to be in your favor, according to area real estate agents.
The Beaufort County housing market had a strong year in 2017 and the positive momentum is expected to continue well into 2018.
On Hilton Head Island, closed sales rose by nearly 9 percent for homes and 19 percent for condos and villas. On the mainland — Bluffton’s 29910 ZIP code — closed sales of homes, apartments and condos rose by nearly 6 percent over the last year, according to a report from the Hilton Head Island Association for Realtors.
Median sales prices also increased across the board.
Sales prices for Hilton Head homes, as well as condos and villas, rose by about 3 percent on average year-over-year. And in Bluffton’s 29910 ZIP code, prices rose by 6.5 percent, according to the report.
The median sales price for homes on the island in 2017 was $535,000 and $227,500 on the mainland.
The Beaufort area saw a 4 percent decrease in closed home sales but median sales prices rose nearly 9 percent, according to the South Carolina Realtors Annual Market Report.
Andy Twisdale, a Realtor at Charter One Realty on Hilton Head, said the increase in both closed sales and median prices is a positive sign for the local housing market.
“We went through two recent storms and a snow storm, but we’ve still done really well,” he said. “I think homes are coming to the market in better shape than they used to, and that’s a positive thing.”
According to Twisdale, buyers on Hilton Head are looking for more outdoor space, the ability to entertain easily and updated homes, among other amenities.
“People expect a home to be updated — whether it be flooring, carpet, cabinets, the kitchen sink — I call it the HGTV syndrome. They want a house that looks like something they see on HGTV,” Twisdale said. “... As the mainland and Hilton Head become closer and closer aligned, the old island look is going to have to compete with the mainland look of newer homes.”
Hampton Lake and Hampton Hall, both Bluffton communities with large selections of newly constructed homes, closed 66 percent and 10 percent more homes respectively in 2017 than in 2016.
Not only are buyers more willing to consider Bluffton over Hilton Head in recent years, so are builders, said Rich Reed, a sales manager for Charter One in Bluffton.
“When national and local builders are going into communities like Hampton Lake and buying whole streets to develop or places like Margaritaville are coming in, then that’s when you know there’s a lot of confidence in this market,” Reed said. “And I can tell you, there’s a huge appetite for certain builders to find developed lots and take advantage of this market.”
Last year, Charter One saw an increased of about 13 percent in closed transactions across the Beaufort County area, according to Reed.
“We’re seeing a healthy resurgence of the market, without the same kind of bubble and fast run up of the market that we saw pre-recession,” he said. “... Overall, it’s nice to see things moving in a healthy direction again.”
Although Beaufort County does not necessarily have a housing shortage like other metropolitan areas across the country, the area does fall short in terms of affordability.
In 2017, less than 5 percent of units or homes sold on Hilton Head were below $100,000, which was the lowest percentage of units sold below that price line across the state, according to the South Carolina Realtors Association.
“We have a housing affordability issue for young, entry level buyers, but I think the town and chamber are trying to work on that,” Twisdale said about Hilton Head.
The inventory of homes for sales year-or-year also declined across the board.
However, Meg James, executive officer for the Hilton Head Area Homebuilders Association, said the release of the updated Beaufort County flood maps earlier this year has builders ready to start more projects.
“Now that everyone has seen the preliminary maps, most builders are more positive and instead of holding off on building, they’re actually moving forward,” James said.
For instance, a builder on Fripp Island is working on two new homes at once, which has not been the case in six or seven years, James said.
“The workforce shortage is what will slow things down,” she said. “The builders have the properties and plans ready ... but when they don’t have anyone to actually build the houses that what really hurts these guys.”
Still, local home building professionals and Realtors remain optimistic about the year ahead.
“We’ve had the best publicity for our area that we’ve had in years — being named No. 1 this and No. 1 that, Bluffton being a great community and the Heritage golf tournament celebrating 50 years,” Twisdale said. “We’re going through a wonderful opportunity of being recognized as a top-rated place to live and vacation, so I think that’s going to pay us all back in big dividends.”