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The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the demand for real estate to record levels in the Golden Isles, creating an inventory shortage and a seller’s market.

LeAnn Duckworth, president and broker of Duckworth Properties, said the inventory is particularly short on St. Simons Island and the natural area for new homes to be built has to be on the mainland. Homes on St. Simons are hot commodities, with many selling within days after they go on the market if they are priced properly.

One challenge for real estate companies in the region is finding enough builders to meet the demand for new homes.

“I tell builders you put inventory in the ground and I will sell it,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of spec inventory.”

There are undeveloped portions of northern and western Glynn County that are the likely areas for new construction, and Duckworth believes they are prime for development.

Duckworth said the properties in highest demand are in the $200,000 too $700,000 price range.

“I’ve also got a ton of buyers in the $750,000 to $1.5 million range,” she said.

There is another challenge keeping prospective sellers from putting their homes on the market, she said. Many people who want to sell their homes, also desire to stay in the Golden Isles if they can find another place to live.

“We’re starting to see sellers leery to put their homes on the market because there’s no place to go,” she said.

While it’s good for real estate companies to be busy trying to find homes for the influx of new residents moving from the Northeast and Midwest because of the pandemic, the need for more homes on the market is becoming increasingly evident.

“It’s a two-edged sword,” Duckworth said. “Now we’re having a problem finding good, quality builders. Right now, there’s not enough builders to put inventory in the ground.”

Duckworth also said it’s time consuming to get a building permit in the county, which slows down growth.

Sherrye Gibbs, with Sea Palms Coastal Realty, said the lack of inventory on St. Simons Island is shifting the market to the mainland, where she predicts most of the real estate business will happen in the next few years.

“I think it’s definitely the mainland; North Glynn and the western side,” she said. “There’s a lot out there under consideration.”

The good news is there are projects in the planning stages in many price ranges.

“There are some builders planning to build in the lower price points,” Gibbs said. “There will be some affordable housing.”

Downtown Brunswick will be another high- demand area with some of the older homes being remodeled.

“Downtown will continue to be hot,” she said.

On Oak Grove Island, there are plans for more single-family housing and attached housing, she said. In outlying areas, the county will have to bring the water and infrastructure necessary to support the new developments.

“There’s a lot there under consideration,” she said. “I already have some agents who work the area. As our county grows, it makes sense. We already have lots of unfinished subdivisions.”