With the changing of seasons, how will the local housing market change? The Lake Murray Lifestyle team turned to Brent Downing, owner of The Downing Group at Keller Williams Realty Columbia, for answers.
Real estate factors existing before the coronavirus hit were lack of supply and low mortgage rates. Brent says those factors are definitely still in play. "Mortgage rates are still at near all-time lows and inventory continues to be tight," he verifies.
One of the other factors causing this limited inventory, he surmises, is some homeowners are hesitant to list their home for sale due to the pandemic. "They don't want people in their home they don't know. We've asked our current sellers to implement several precautions to minimize any risk from that, and have seen no problems. However, I completely understand if someone wants to wait this out. It really is a personal choice, and we're here to support our clients' decisions, whatever that may be," he says.
Regarding most important real estate indicators, Brent says unemployment rates concern him the most going into the next 12 months.
"So far we've not seen price pressure in our market that would cause equity levels to drop, and I personally don't see a huge decline in prices like we saw in 2008-11 here in the Columbia area. In fact, prices have continued to climb through the pandemic in our market. Depending on which poll you believe, South Carolina is either the second or third highest state for people to move to in the country. I'm hearing that will continue as people in high density population centers, such as New York City, decide they want a different and safer environment to live in," says Brent.
Rather than a V-shaped or W-shaped housing market recovery, Brent says he subscribes to the U-shaped economic recovery. "At this point, there's nothing to recover from in our local housing market. It's extremely strong from a sellers' perspective," he adds.
He doesn't see a buyers' market happening at all this year. "In fact, given only the right conditions, I don't see that happening in the next 18 months. The inventory is so tight here (1.7 months versus a balanced market being 6 months), we need a good bit of time to catch up to the demand," proclaims Brent.
For those wondering if the fall is a good time to sell opposed to waiting until the New Year, Brent tells homeowners there really is no bad time to sell. "Life happens all year long. People downsize, upsize, get transferred away, get transferred here, retire to South Carolina, and all those life events that dictate a move all year long. Traditionally we'll see more home sales in the March to August timeframe, so you'll hear that's the best time to sell your home. However, there's demand year-round, and if there's less inventory in the fall, homeowners who do list their home for sale have less competition."
After working the Lake Murray region since 2012, and living on the lake, Brent says he feels he's "seen it all."
"When people decide to buy on Lake Murray, they start out wanting a score of 10 in every category: view, home layout, price, schools, decor, distance from Columbia and several others. What they find is there's no home out there that will score a 10 in more than a few categories, so there are compromises that will need to be made. Generally speaking, I find, after budget, that schools/location is usually the starting point, then how the home fits the bill, layout, size, is it updated, etc, wins over the view," says Brent.
"That's totally a generalization, however, I do find it rare that someone will buy a project house on what most would consider would be a prime lot.," he adds.
Brent assures that his team always puts clients' best interests first. "Our clients trust us. That's why we have hundreds of stellar reviews from past clients and why our biggest source of business is from our past clients and who they refer to us," he says.
"We know our markets better than anyone. No one outworks us, we answer our phones at all hours. We love helping people so our service levels are unparalleled. We are expert negotiators and we're always results-focused on behalf of our clients. This culture is why my team of dedicated professional realtors has become the top real estate team in the Midlands," Brent says.
On a positive note, Brent says home prices are up 6.5% so far this year, compared to last year, even through the 2020 pandemic.