Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Myrtle Beach area home sales look up

As for Myrtle Beach, according to this article, the housing market is starting to grab its boot straps and pick itself up! Although median prices actually dropped just a tad, actual sales and volume went up in 2010 compared to 2009. It is still very much a buyer's market as foreclosures and short sales dominate the news and the pricing of some areas. But overall, the health of the market is definitely looking positive.

Here is the article from the Sun News:

The Grand Strand real estate market improved overall in 2010, and local experts say that 2011 should bring greater stability. Real estate sales were up significantly in 2010 and price declines slowed, the first real positive signs that the local real estate market was turning the corner from the collapse. "What we saw in 2010 was the beginning of coming out of the real slow market that we had," said Rod Smith, the broker-in-charge of Coldwell Banker Chicora Real Estate. "Although our market didn't take off in any huge numbers, the trend is upwards."
Single-family home sales were up 12 percent overall in 2010, when compared to 2009, according to the Multiple Listing Service. Condo sales rose 21 percent last year from 2009.
The increases in sales came despite a drop-off in the last few months of the year. Single-family home and condo sales were down year-over-year in October and November. In December single-family home sales fell 4 percent, when compared to the same month in 2009. Condo sales were up 18 percent in December, when compared to the same month in 2009.

Smith said the year-end drops aren't a cause for concern because the months were compared to months when sales were artificially high because of the federal home buyer tax credit in 2009.
Tom Maeser, a real estate analyst with the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors, said that foreclosures and other distressed properties drove the market in 2010, accounting for about a third of all sales. Those distressed properties continued to drive the prices down, he said, but the good values spurred additional sales.
"Prices are so good and of course driven by foreclosures and short sales, and people see value," he said. "It's an extremely strong buyer's market as long as they can find the money to do that."
The data released this week also show that real estate prices have slowed their declines from the rapid plummet a few years ago. The median price of a single-family home was $172,625 in 2010, down about 1 percent from 2009. The median condo price was $119,990, down 6 percent from 2009.
The median price of single-family homes and condos dropped 9 percent in December, when compared with the same month in 2009.
The price declines last year were in part because of the increased number of short sales that successfully sold, said Greg Harrelson, the owner of Century 21 The Harrelson Group. In 2010, the short sale process, which was cumbersome, lengthy and often resulted in failure, began working more smoothly with banks approving more sales more quickly than before, he said.
He likened the real estate market last year to the end of a flight when a plane is about to descend. "It was still way up in the air, but it seemed like we were getting ready to land," he said. "We saw plenty of signs that if we're not at the bottom we're really, really close."
Harrelson said the increase in sales was in part because buyers believe there are a lot of good properties at good values in Myrtle Beach. Those buyers are not the flippers of a few years ago, but long-term investors who don't want to miss out on the best properties, he said.

Most Realtors agreed that one of the most surprising trends of the year was the number of buyers who paid in cash. About 47 percent of all properties bought in 2010 were paid for in cash, with 43 percent paid for using conventional financing and the remainder financed through agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration or Veterans Affairs, according the Multiple Listing Service.
"To have that much business transacted in cash is really an astounding number when you look at history in the area," Smith said.
Buyers have been taking money from the stock market, or from equity of another house and buying property here, he said.
Penny Boling, the broker-in-charge of Century 21 Boling & Associates, said that better availability of financing to qualified buyers will help the real estate market in 2011.
Still, the number of cash buyers doesn't look like it will run out, she said. The low prices are making it possible for some buyers to avoid the challenge of financing all together.
While 2010 was a fairly good year for her company, Boling said it required a lot of work and she was happy to see it end.
"We are expecting 2011 to be a real good year," she said. "I think we will see stabilization, but only in certain neighborhoods and certain resorts, but it will not be across the board."
Several Realtors said that rapid improvements aren't likely this year, but they expect continued modest increases in sales and stabilized prices.
The market will likely start to return to normal next year, which Harrelson said is a recovery in itself. Still, for some homeowners who are staring at devalued properties, the improvements in 2010, and any that may happen in 2011, will likely fall short of expectations, he said.

Smith said prices have likely hit the bottom and will stabilize, but not increase much this year. Interest rates, which were low in 2010, are likely going to rise this year, which will encourage some buyers who have been waiting, he said.
"I believe in 2011 that the distressed properties are going to continue to keep prices low. I think we're probably going to see a slight increase in interest rate, a gradual loosening of credit guidelines,'' Smith said.

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