The recent volatility of the stock market has many investors turning to real estate as a safer way to protect their savings.
That is one of the main factors driving the sale of homes valued more than $1 million in the Golden Isles, said Realtor Dana Hill, with Georgia Coast Realty.
“Real estate is a safer investment,” she said. “I am starting to see a lot more people coming to the area from up north.”
During the first six months last year, 39 homes valued a $1 million or more sold in the Golden Isles, compared to 46 homes during the same time period this year.
“People are coming from larger cities because they realize they can work from other areas,” she said.”
The homes are staying on the market six to seven months, which is longer than a $250,000 home, but Hill said the more expensive homes are selling for 92 percent of asking price.
“The market is holding well because of the shortage of inventory,” Hill said. “Like any of our inventory, a house in good condition and priced well will move quickly.”
A large number of the sales are cash, though the low interest rates are also a consideration for the sale of high-end homes, she said.
“You can afford a lot more home with the low interest rates,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic could also be helping to drive the demand because many people have been working from home and realize they don’t need to go to an office every day.
Joe Wills, a luxury home real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate, said the market was booming the first quarter of 2020 with sales outpacing last year’s record sales by 21 percent.
“Going into the pandemic, we were going strong,” he said.
If the pandemic had not happened, Wills predicted last year’s record would have been easily eclipsed.
“I think we would have continued,” he said. “We would have had the best year we’ve ever had.”
COVID-19 struck and the market fizzled into May, but it has rebounded unexpectedly fast, he said.
“I knew it wouldn’t be forever, but I didn’t think it would come back this quickly,” he said. “We were seeing a lot of sales in the first quarter. We were anticipating it would come back strong.”
Wills said he expects the luxury home market and the home market in general in the Golden Isles to continue a strong recovery. In fact, the market at this point is comparable to last year’s record, he said.
Many of the luxury home buyers are from out of state and vacation in the area on a regular basis. Their familiarity with the area and its many advantages, especially the climate, beaches, airports, health system and tourist attractions, make the Golden Isles very appealing.
The pandemic may have convinced some buyers to “expedite the timeline” with plans to move from the big city to a more laid-back lifestyle.
“They vacation here, go to the beach and they like it here,” Wills said. “Today people are looking at priorities.”