Local markets spotlights 5 different areas across the country, showcasing what is uniquely happening in those housing markets. Local real estate agents, loan officers and appraisers share what characteristics are currently defining their housing markets.
Bluffton, South Carolina
Historically viewed as a place to drive through on the way to Savannah, Georgia or the popular vacation destination of Hilton Head, Bluff ton has really come into its own over the past 10 years. “I believe that our market was undiscovered and undervalued for a really long time,” local Keller Williams agent, Tim Pierce said. Since 2010, Bluff ton’s population has nearly tripled to about 34,000 making it one of America’s fastest growing towns.
However, this growth has come at a cost. According to the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors, the median home sale price jumped 15.3% in 2021 to $330,745. “It is extraordinarily hot,” emphasized Pierce. “The agents on my team are having to be extremely competitive when making offers. One of my agents has a client who is making an offer on a house that will probably end up going for over $250,000 over list price and most of what we are seeing is either all cash offers or eliminating contingencies.”
This rapid increase in prices, coupled with local housing inventory dropping over 50% in 2021, has meant times are tough for buyers looking to settle in Bluffton. Despite this, Pierce remains hopeful about the upcoming season. “As we head into spring I do expect to see continued appreciation, and I am hopeful we will continue to see more listings come on the market. But, I do believe it is going to be really competitive, and buyers are going to have to move fast to get a house.”
Boasting over 32 miles of shoreline, thousands of acres of parkland and located less than an hour commute from Manhattan, Greenwich has been a haven for buyers looking for a nearby escape from the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. According to local Sotheby’s International Realty agent Joe Barbieri, this trend was accelerated by the onset of the COVID–19 pandemic.
“At the start of the pandemic a lot of people coming to Greenwich were just looking to rent and then they decided to buy,” he said. “Right now, the market has low inventory and when something good comes on the market there is a flood of activity.” Barbieri explained that before the pandemic prices in Greenwich were dropping lower and lower, and there was quite a bit of inventory sitting on the market for a long period of time.
“A lot of things that never could sell finally sold and that just kept continuing. Now, we have under 200 homes for sale, and a year ago, we had over 400 homes. I get people calling me all the time looking for inventory, but we just don’t have any,” he said. With The Corcoran Group announcing that it has chosen a Greenwich based brokerage as its entry point into the Nutmeg State, it is clear that New York expats are not the only ones willing to bet on Greenwich’s housing market.
As the self-proclaimed ‘Energy capital of the nation’, Gillette is known for providing roughly a third of the nation’s coal and being a major producer of oil and natural gas. For years the energy industry has tried to entice people to move the city of roughly 33,000. But according to local ERA Priority Real Estate agent Josh McGrath, Gillette’s small-town feel, big city amenities and proximity to national parks has finally been inspiring people to move to the area.
This, of course, has come at a cost. On the day I spoke with McGrath he said that only 53 homes were on the market. “Before COVID–19 we had somewhere between 250 and 300 homes on the market,” McGrath said. “In 2016 there were some layoff s in the energy industry, and we had about 525 homes; but, it has just been declining since then.”
According to McGrath, out-of-town buyers and local move-up buyers taking advantage of low mortgage rates have decimated the area’s housing supply. As geopolitical tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine and the U.S. attempts to become less dependent on foreign oil, McGrath expects the situation to worsen as more people move to Gillette for employment opportunities in the energy industry.
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
It seems like the Dallas-Fort Worth housing market has been making headlines for years now. According to local Brixstone Real Estate agent Mandy Nichols, it is for a good reason. “The market is just insane,” she said. “I have one buyer with a budget of $300,000–$350,000, and we are having to make room in there for up to $30,000 of gap funding in case it doesn’t appraise.”
Pre-pandemic, Nichols said multiple offer situations were rare, but now it isn’t uncommon to see homes priced under $500,000 to receive upwards of 20 offers. While these conditions can be seen all over the Metroplex, areas with top-rated school districts are even more competitive, according to Nichols. Where are all these buyers coming from, you ask? California.
“I haven’t moved anybody but Californians here,” Nichols said. “I know there are multiple areas of the country buyers are coming from, but I haven’t really heard anyone at my brokerage talk about working with anyone but Californian buyers.”
Like markets across the country, Lexington’s housing market is hot. For local rookie Century 21 agent Luis Paredes, who felt stuck in his job at Amazon, the exciting market conditions helped inspire his jump into the real estate industry.
“I had been there for about two years, and I was like, ‘Man there really isn’t anything else I can do here,’” Paredes explained. As a relatively new agent in Lexington, Paredes has had to deal with countless multiple offer situations and rapidly rising prices.
“I am seeing a lot of properties going on the market at a higher price than a home down the road sold for a few weeks ago,” he said. “They are going up $25,000–$30,000 for the list prices and then when they offers come in and there will be multiple offers, it will sell for $5,000–$10,000 more than the list price.”
Low inventory is yet another issue. Paredes explained he was recently working with a client in the Nicholasville area where new listings sometimes take weeks to appear. “It was challenging for my buyer because they didn’t have that many opportunities to see homes or even many options,” he said. Despite these tough conditions, Paredes said he is still seeing people from across the country looking to move to Lexington. “A lot of people come here for the horse industry,” he explained. “There is a lot of land and farming, and people can just go outside and enjoy the fresh air.”
This piece on Local Markets was originally featured in the May Issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read the full issue, click here.