The housing market in the Golden Isles enjoyed a strong year despite a smaller inventory in some areas. And optimism abounds about real estate sales coming into 2020.

LeAnn Duckworth, broker and president of Duckworth Properties, said sales the past year were strong on both St. Simons Island and the mainland.

“It was great, and it’s still continuing to be lucrative,” she said.

Newly constructed homes, in particular, are hot sellers in the Golden Isles.

Properties at the south end of St. Simons Island are the ones most desired by customers, even thought Duckworth said she gives them plenty of options.

“I try to show the entire island,” she said.

A reason people prefer the south end of St. Simons is because of the beaches and proximity to restaurants, shops and entertainment.

Beach cottages are among the hot sellers on St. Simons, she said.

Duckworth said she believes the positive trend in the real estate market will continue in the Golden Isles in 2020.

Property values continue to increase, which makes home ownership a good investment. But the high prices make it financially challenging for young buyers to buy a single-family home on St. Simons, unless they can afford a $400,000 mortgage.

There are many more options for younger home shoppers on the mainland, both in downtown Brunswick and other parts of the city, said Realtor Julie Martin, with Gardner Keim Coastal Realty.

As many as 25 new apartments and lofts will open on the upper floors of some historic buildings in downtown Brunswick in 2020. More than 20 additional apartments are also scheduled to open at the old Harper’s Joy facility, adding to the inventory available downtown.

“You can certainly feel the momentum in the housing market in the city,” Martin said. “It’s huge here. Hopefully it will continue to track that way.”

A privately funded study, commissioned by the Coastal Georgia Foundation in November, concluded downtown Brunswick could absorb as many as 75 new housing units annually for the next five years. The study also included the outlying areas surrounding the downtown district as “In-Town Brunswick” where another 41 to 64 new housing units could be absorbed each year.

Martin believes the time is ideal for private investors to buy some of the smaller, dilapidated homes near the downtown district and renovate them.

“People are starting to come to this realization on their own,” she said. “We need to encourage folks to come into the market as investors. There is so much need to fix up homes in the city.”

The city’s land bank is trying to turn over properties at an affordable price and Martin believes the inventory downtown will continue to increase.

While many of the new living spaces downtown will be rentals, Martin said she hopes condos will also be part of the mix.

“I’ve already had people contacting me to see what the inventory downtown will look like,” she said. “Things in Brunswick are hopping.”