Existing home sales have plummeted nationwide the past two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sales in the South are down 16.8 percent compared to a year ago, but median prices in the region have increased 6.4 percent.
“The economic lockdowns – occurring from mid-March through April in most states – have temporarily disrupted home sales,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist. “But the listings that are on the market are still attracting buyers and boosting home prices.”
The total inventory of homes on the market is down nearly 20 percent nationwide, mirroring what’s happening in the Golden Isles.
The real estate market in the Glynn County is facing other challenges as the restrictions enacted during the economic lockdown are relaxed.
Anne Lyndon Peck, an associate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate, said the current challenge is finding the inventory to meet the demand.
“It’s definitely a seller’s market,” she said. “It’s a great time to sell.”
Sales of listed homes are strong across the county, with many of the buyers from the Atlanta and Athens areas, as well as others from out of state, Peck said. Some of the buyers are purchasing second homes while others are looking to move out of large metropolitan areas and have opted for the slower pace of life in the Golden Isles.
“Sales seem very strong, especially with the percent of homes on the market,” she said. “Prices are staying firm. It’s a good time to buy because of the interest rates.”
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 3.31 percent in April, down from 3.45 percent in March. The average rate in 2019 was 3.94 percent.
Allison Van der Veer, an associate broker with Roland Daniel Properties, said her office has stayed busy despite the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re humming along and hoping to do better, soon,” she said. “The prices really didn’t go down for houses. I think the market is holding its own.”
The number of houses on the market is lower than normal but the ones on the market are selling, she said. And the home hunters are traveling to the Golden Isles now that travel restrictions have been relaxed.
“We need more listings,” she said. “They’re coming from everywhere.”
As for it being a seller’s market, Van der Veer said it’s also a good time to be house hunting because of low interest rates.
“I think it’s good on both sides,” she said. “It’s a good market, period. It’s a good time to buy.”
Roland Daniel, owner of Roland Daniel Properties, said the lack of inventory is a problem throughout the Southeast, but housing sales in the Golden Isles have been surprisingly strong.
“During the first 150 days last year, there were 277 sales,” he said. “This year during the same time period we’ve had 256 sales.”
That’s less than an 8 percent difference, which bodes well in coming months. He’s just now seeing more homes up for sale and is hoping this is a trend that will continue the next 30 to 45 days.
“The problem this year because of the virus is we never saw the spring inventory of homes,” he said. “It’s just beginning. It might push the market into September. There’s no way to tell yet.”