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By GORDON JACKSON Supply and demand drove the home sale market to all-time highs last year in the Golden Isles. Page Aiken, owner/broker at Page Aiken Real Estate, said the average inventory on the market on St. Simons Island prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 was 400 homes. “Historically homes in the Golden Isles have been undervalued,” he said. “This meant that if you were a buyer you could expect to find several homes available in your price range and in the area you wanted to live.” Nowadays, St. Simons buyers have a selection of about 150 homes, on average, and very few homes are sold in their price range. “Lack of inventory and a slew of buyers has created a very competitive atmosphere, and an already hot market has picked up speed as buyers bid-up sales prices at a record pace,” Aiken said. “From June 2021 to December 2021 the average price for a home on St. Simons went from the low $600s to over $750,000.” The biggest challenge in what has become a seller’s market is the lack of inventory combined with multiple buyers competing for homes, he said. “One hidden downside for sellers is that there are limited choices for them to move into, and once they sell their home, they may have to rent temporarily until they find another home,” he said. “Many would-be sellers are therefore sitting on the fence.” The homes that sold fastest were priced right for their features and location, he said. “In 2021, there were over 1,100 sales in the islands and nearly 5% of those sold in zero days,” he said. “This means that the seller, with the help of their agent, found a buyer before they listed the home in the MLS. Another 15% sold in the first 30 days and the overall average days on market in 2021 was 95 days. Compare that to pre-COVID averages of 180 to 270 days on market.” Properties near the beaches on Sea Island and the southern end of St. Simons Island were in high demand. Larger homes with room to accommodate extended families or produce rental income were among the quickest sellers. Development of the mainland is necessary to help meet the demand of people looking to move to the Golden Isles, Aiken said. “We live on an island, therefore inventory on St. Simons, Sea Island or Jekyll will always be naturally constrained,” he said. “The question is where are all of these migrating buyers going to find a home to live? New developments in Brunswick, including downtown, are timely and needed to ease some of the housing burden from the islands.” The biggest source of new buyers is the Atlanta area, but the COVID-19 pandemic helped spur a migration of buyers from urban areas in the South, Midwest and Northeast states. “West Coast and Northeast buyers are amazed at the low price of homes and property taxes in the Golden Isles,” he said. There are plans for several new developments on St. Simons Island this year, he said. “One such development will be 50 Oaks, which will deliver 54 new three- and four-bedroom luxury townhomes located near Bennie’s Red Barn on St. Simons,” Aiken said. “Historically, St. Simons has seen approximately 100 to 125 new homes constructed each year on average. This is an approximate 1.3% annual growth rate, and will likely be the case for the foreseeable future.” Interest rates are expected to rise this year, which will likely reduce demand and help balance the buyer/seller market to increase available inventory. “I see pricing stabilizing a bit, but I don’t foresee demand dropping significantly,” he said. “I predict a natural movement of demand towards mid-island and north island homes.” Newcomers will continue to drive the market in the Golden Isles. “St. Simons and Sea Island will continue to see price appreciation and buyers will need to adjust their budgets to align with home values,” he said. “I believe Brunswick and Glynn County will see a surge in growth as buyers find more available inventory in desirable price points. Infrastructure, quality of life and how we preserve the natural beauty of the Golden Isles will be critical factors affecting the market going forward.”

By GORDON JACKSON

Supply and demand drove the home sale market to all-time highs last year in the Golden Isles.

Page Aiken, owner/broker at Page Aiken Real Estate, said the average inventory on the market on St. Simons Island prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 was 400 homes.

“Historically homes in the Golden Isles have been undervalued,” he said. “This meant that if you were a buyer you could expect to find several homes available in your price range and in the area you wanted to live.”

Nowadays, St. Simons buyers have a selection of about 150 homes, on average, and very few homes are sold in their price range.

“Lack of inventory and a slew of buyers has created a very competitive atmosphere, and an already hot market has picked up speed as buyers bid-up sales prices at a record pace,” Aiken said. “From June 2021 to December 2021 the average price for a home on St. Simons went from the low $600s to over $750,000.”

The biggest challenge in what has become a seller’s market is the lack of inventory combined with multiple buyers competing for homes, he said.

“One hidden downside for sellers is that there are limited choices for them to move into, and once they sell their home, they may have to rent temporarily until they find another home,” he said. “Many would-be sellers are therefore sitting on the fence.”

The homes that sold fastest were priced right for their features and location, he said.

“In 2021, there were over 1,100 sales in the islands and nearly 5% of those sold in zero days,” he said. “This means that the seller, with the help of their agent, found a buyer before they listed the home in the MLS. Another 15% sold in the first 30 days and the overall average days on market in 2021 was 95 days. Compare that to pre-COVID averages of 180 to 270 days on market.”

Properties near the beaches on Sea Island and the southern end of St. Simons Island were in high demand. Larger homes with room to accommodate extended families or produce rental income were among the quickest sellers.

Development of the mainland is necessary to help meet the demand of people looking to move to the Golden Isles, Aiken said.

“We live on an island, therefore inventory on St. Simons, Sea Island or Jekyll will always be naturally constrained,” he said. “The question is where are all of these migrating buyers going to find a home to live? New developments in Brunswick, including downtown, are timely and needed to ease some of the housing burden from the islands.”

The biggest source of new buyers is the Atlanta area, but the COVID-19 pandemic helped spur a migration of buyers from urban areas in the South, Midwest and Northeast states.

“West Coast and Northeast buyers are amazed at the low price of homes and property taxes in the Golden Isles,” he said.

There are plans for several new developments on St. Simons Island this year, he said.

“One such development will be 50 Oaks, which will deliver 54 new three- and four-bedroom luxury townhomes located near Bennie’s Red Barn on St. Simons,” Aiken said. “Historically, St. Simons has seen approximately 100 to 125 new homes constructed each year on average. This is an approximate 1.3% annual growth rate, and will likely be the case for the foreseeable future.”

Interest rates are expected to rise this year, which will likely reduce demand and help balance the buyer/seller market to increase available inventory.

“I see pricing stabilizing a bit, but I don’t foresee demand dropping significantly,” he said. “I predict a natural movement of demand towards mid-island and north island homes.”

Newcomers will continue to drive the market in the Golden Isles.

“St. Simons and Sea Island will continue to see price appreciation and buyers will need to adjust their budgets to align with home values,” he said. “I believe Brunswick and Glynn County will see a surge in growth as buyers find more available inventory in desirable price points. Infrastructure, quality of life and how we preserve the natural beauty of the Golden Isles will be critical factors affecting the market going forward.”