091020_HOW

This home, at 507 Baisden Lane, on St. Simons Island, is offered by Duckworth Properties.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of uncertainty in the real estate market when it shut down much of the economy in March and April.

The biggest surprise is how strong the real estate market has rebounded in the Golden Isles.

Hannah Melton, associate broker for Duckworth Properties, said the demand for inventory in the Golden Isles is higher than the number of available homes on the market.

“Demand is certainly higher than it was six months ago, and we have seen it shift towards a seller’s market,” she said. “Interest rates are at an all-time low and buyers are taking full advantage whether (it’s a) primary, secondary residence or even investment.”

The demand for inventory is high throughout the county in many price ranges.

“We really need more inventory on both the mainland and St. Simons Island,” she said. “Specifically, in terms of demand, there is very little housing available on St. Simons under $350,000 and the mainland under $200,000.”

The demand for properly priced homes leads to multiple bids shortly after they go on the market, Melton said.

“I listed a home on Saturday, had five showings Sunday and multiple offers that same day,” she said. “Buyers are beginning to realize they have to be more aggressive than in the past. I will note that it was the highest priced home in the neighborhood too.”

In fact, it’s becoming more and more commonplace to see multiple offers on a properly priced home, she said. In particular, nearly every property on mid-south and south St. Simons Island is getting multiple offers. Single-family homes in the $275,000 to $350,000 range are the fastest sellers, with many staying on the market less than 48 hours, she said.

“Brunswick definitely needs more inventory all the way up $500,000,” she said. “We have an influx of buyers in that bracket and very little to offer. In these times we are having to restructure marketing tactics to broaden our inventory and pipelines.”

The multiple bids make it important to give everyone an opportunity to make another offer.

“You certainly want to give everyone a fair chance so all parties are asked to submit their highest and best offer by a certain date,” she said. “A few of my buyers that have been in these situations have actually written letters to sellers to go along with their offer. By adding that personal touch to an offer always seems to help.”

The good news is there is some relief coming with ongoing construction projects, including homes starting in the $290,000 range coming available within the next three months, Melton said. A new project in the mid-north area St. Simons Island will also break ground this year, with homes starting around $400,000, she said.

Frank DeLoach, owner and broker of DeLoach Sotheby’s International Realty, said the demand for homes on St. Simons Island and Sea Island is driven by people from New York, Atlanta and other large cities, with the ability to work from a home office. Others have enough personal wealth to choose to live wherever they want and many are choosing the Golden Isles.

“All price ranges are moving well,” he said.

There are also some new homes under construction on St. Simons Island that will likely sell quickly once they are built.

“There’s more inventory coming,” he said. “But the number of tracts is becoming more and more limited. It’s not just on St. Simons Island. You will see more redevelopment.”

The limited inventory of homes is also creating a strain on the rental home business. Renae Kirk, broker and owner of Sand Dollar Shores Properties, said many new residents to the Golden Isles want to rent as a way to learn more about the community before they commit to buying a home.

One-and two-bedroom apartments are in high demand, going for as much as $1,100 to $1,400 a month for one bedroom and as much as $1,600 for two bedrooms.

When it comes to rental homes, they are hard to find, and cost as much as $2,500 a month. At that point, many people decide it’s time to buy instead of rent a home, she said.

The limited inventory makes it difficult for renters to live where they’d like.

“Everyone would like to be on St. Simons Island, but Brunswick properties are for rent, too.”

There is also an increasing demand for affordable housing for the growing enrollment at College of Coastal Georgia, Kirk said.