The fastest moving segment of Golden Isles real estate market is for homes priced at $150,000 or less. And that’s a problem.
Realtor Julie Martin, who is also a Brunswick city commissioner, said there are currently only 30 single-family homes in this lower end of the price range on the market in Glynn County. Most of the homes are three bedroom, two bathroom properties, she said.
“There is not enough inventory and very few planned development communities in that price range with any properties currently available,” she said.
In comparison, there are 107 single-family homes on the market between $150,000 and $250,000, and 94 single-family homes listed between $250,000 and $400,000, she said.
The lack of affordable housing in the Golden Isles makes it a challenge for young couples with children to save enough for a down payment or to afford the mortgage for many homes on the market locally.
“Certainly, a young family could purchase a home that might need a little updating for less money and then, during their ownership, make improvements as funds are more available,” she said.
It appears there are few plans to build affordable housing locally, in part because the cost of construction and building supplies continue to rise, making new construction projects more expensive to develop, Martin said.
“Most larger sized lots suitable for a community development are out in the county,” she said. “It may take some out-of-the-box thinking and design work to create clustered communities in order to keep the prices down to satisfy the moderately priced demand for housing.”
Saving for a down payment is an important step for first-time home buyers. Many traditional banks and lending institutions have first-time buyer programs, she said.
LuV McDowell-Bailey, a mortgage loan originator with Five Star Credit Union, said the first step young and first-time home buyers should take is to learn how much debt they can afford. One problem facing young couples is student loan debt.
But with some lenders only needing a 3 1/2 percent down payment, McDowell-Bailey said she does see a handful of couples under 30 years old qualifying for moderately priced homes, and sometimes more expensive ones. The down payment can be a gift from an immediate family member she said.
She has one other piece of advice.
“Always seek a qualified lender first to get qualified,” she said. “If you don’t know the giant you’re fighting, how do you win?”
Once prospective home buyers know how much of a loan they qualify for, they can go house hunting, she said.
“It’s obvious we have a lack of product,” McDowell-Bailey said. “The supply is low and the demand is great.”
While more moderately priced homes on the market would make lenders like her busier, she expects builders to meet the growing demand.
“It is a great market to grow,” she said. “Houses are not sitting, which is great to me.”