The COVID-19 pandemic has made real estate a hot commodity in the Golden Isles, and the market has changed as a result.
Realtor Stephanie Webb said home buyers moving to the Golden Isles are no longer looking for fixer-uppers. Instead, many are in a hurry to move here and they don’t want to wait for a contractor to finish the needed renovations.
“The main thing people want is move-in ready homes. They want everything done for them before they move in,” said Webb, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate.
That means sellers are doing more on their end to put their homes on the market, said Webb. Buyers don’t want to paint walls, replace roofs or make other improvements.
Home buyers still want open floor plans that combine kitchens and family rooms into one large living space, but they also want dedicated space for a home office. An extra room for workout equipment or a children’s play room is an added bonus.
“They need a couple of extra rooms in the houses,” she said.
Webb said when potential buyers are looking at homes, they also look at their cell phones to determine if they have strong connections. Customers looking at property on the mainland, especially in the rural areas, often ask about internet speed and internet service, Webb said.
Other in-demand features include doors opening onto patios for the outdoor living space that is so appealing to people moving to the region.
“They all want the same thing,” she said. “When they come here, they want something with a view.”
Not everyone can find a home with a view of the ocean, woods or marshes, but they still have the desire to take advantage of the year-round weather in the Golden Isles.
If they can’t find a home with a view, customers are looking for privacy in their back yards with privacy fencing and tasteful landscaping.
Swimming pools are another selling point, Webb said. Those who buy homes without a pool have a wait of six months to a year to schedule a contractor, she said.
On St. Simons Island, another consideration is the location, especially at the south end, and the ease to travel to different locations, including those who commute to work.
Realtor Jay Kaufman, owner of Parker-Kaufman Realtors, said location is still the No. 1 consideration when it comes to buying a home in the Golden Isles. For younger families, the quality of schools is a consideration, and for older residents access to doctors and health care are important.
Connectivity through bike paths are selling points, especially on St. Simons and Jekyll islands.
When it comes to the homes themselves, Kaufman said square footage isn’t as important as the number of rooms.
“An extra bedroom for a home office is absolutely desirable,” he said. “You need an extra room so you can sequester yourself.”
Consumers looking for homes on Jekyll Island don’t have the luxury of being selective, because the inventory is so low, said Connie Fry, a Realtor with Jekyll Realty.
People moving to the island want a water view, three bedrooms and two bathrooms, but they are buying whatever is on the market.
“People come over our little bridge and their feel like they’ve entered paradise,” Fry said.
An oceanfront home recently went on the market and sold in two days for $1.695 million.
“In this market, it’s not unusual to have more than one offer,” she said. “Homes are selling for the asking price.”
Like everywhere in the Golden Isles, Realtors are struggling to meet the demand of consumers wanting to move here.
“We need homes to sell now,” Fry said. “I wish we had more homes to sell. Even the vacation market is good.”