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Realtors throughout the Golden Isles expected this to be a challenging time after the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation earlier this year.

Now, they face a new challenge in the Golden Isles – the lack of inventory of homes in what has become a seller’s market.

Allison Van der Veer, associate broker/brokerage manager for Roland Daniel Properties, said the need for more homes on the market in Glynn County is “enormous.”

“Looking at data from the Golden Isles Association of Realtors MLS, the number of active residential listings in Glynn County went from 2,812 in January 2015 to 1,572 in September 2020,” she said. “Obviously, those numbers fluctuate throughout each year, but the overall trend is a major tightening of the available housing stock over the last five years.”

The number of days homes are for sale in the Golden Isles has been lowered from 133 in January 2015 with a median price of $170,000 to 81 days in September with a median selling price of $249,400, she said.

“We were trending toward these numbers beginning in 2018 so the ‘pandexodus’ of people moving here from larger cities or across Glynn County hasn’t brought on the shortage but it has made it more acute,” she said.

The strongest selling price ranges vary from area to area in the county.

This year-to-date, in Brunswick and mainland Glynn County, the best-selling price range is $150,000 to $250,00 and there has been at least one sale per month up to $500,000, Van der Veer said.

On St. Simons Island, the best-selling price range this year is $300,000 to $600,000, but sales have been strong in all prices ranges up to $1 million plus. On Jekyll Island, the best selling price range is $450,000 to $700,000. On Sea Island there have been 66 sales over $1 million this year, and that is the best-selling price range, she said.

The lack of inventory underscores the need for more new housing in all price ranges, she said.

“While there are new homes/developments under construction and in the planning stages throughout Glynn County, I don’t think it will be enough to meet the demand as long as the demand stays as strong as it is,” she said. “In our MLS there are currently 96 properties listed as new or under construction and we have had well over 100 residential sales in every month this year.”

She said it’s “hard to imagine” having more than six months of new inventory in the pipeline.

Van der Veer said it would not be a risky business venture for builders to start construction of new homes in the Golden Isles to meet the demand.

“I guess my advice is plenty of people are ‘swinging for the fences’ by building more expensive homes, but a nice opportunity exists for good quality homes in large numbers in all price ranges under $500,000 on the mainland,” she said.

While there is limited room on St. Simons Island, Van der Veer said there are plenty of locations on the mainland for development.

“How about Liberty Harbor? How about rezoning and redeveloping some of the defunct commercial areas near the hospital and college?” she asked.

Another concern is the lack of available housing to rent, she said.

“The lack of long-term rental housing is sometimes pushing lower and middle income workers further from Brunswick to more affordable places to live,” she said. “I know that community and economic development groups are looking at Brunswick from all angles and I’m sure lots of good plans are in the works. If you can look at Brunswick with fresh eyes then the possibilities exist everywhere for everyone.”

Pat Timbes, a real estate broker for Palmetto Realty Group, said there is a “very strong need” for available housing on the market, especially in the beach area on St. Simons Island.

“Everything close to the beach is selling,” she said.

The strong demand is driven by people with the ability to work at home from anywhere in the nation and are seeking the better quality of life offered in the Golden Isles.

In some instances, people are buying older homes and renovating them or tearing them down to build something more modern.

Timbes said there are a limited number of new homes and condominiums on the market, with “really, really strong interest” on the properties by potential buyers. The pandemic’s impact on the real estate market in the Golden Isles will likely continue into next year.

“It was a huge, pleasant surprise the way it turned out,” Timbes said. “There is a very strong need right now, especially in the beach area.”