Late last week, GGAR (Greater Greenville Association of Realtors) posted their local housing market figures for January. Even if you’re not a number cruncher, I think you’ll find some of the findings surprising, especially if you're considering the purchase or sale of a home.
The biggest surprises in Greater Greenville's January housing stats
I’ve inserted several charts from the GGAR February report because they shed light on several surprising aspects of our housing market since August of 2020:
Surprisingly strong sales numbers
Despite a pandemic, a spike in unemployment, national election turmoil and large-scale unrest in the United States, Greenville’s home sale numbers were higher in 2020 from September through December than they were in 2019. September, October and December saw significant increases in sales numbers. And the trend continues; January 2021 sales figures exceeded January 2020, despite economic uncertainties.
Strikingly similar sales patterns
Home sales typically dip in the fall. That’s a truism of real estate. September sales exceeded October’s, and October’s exceeded November’s. December sales jumped up; January’s dropped. August was the exception to the rule. Otherwise, the sales patterns are noticeably similar for 2019 and 2020. Greater Greenville housing market sales trends for the last months of 2020 were surprisingly normal in a year where nothing else was.
Drastically shrinking housing inventory
Finding your dream home in the Greater Greenville market may not be as hard as finding hen’s teeth, but it’s not easy. The benchmark given as equilibrium is a supply of 6 months of inventory. A market with more than 6 months of supply favors buyers. One with fewer than 6 months of supply favors sellers. Two years ago our market strongly favored sellers. It very strongly favors sellers now because the supply of homes dropped significantly in the past year.
Sharply rising home prices.
January home prices rose from 2019 to 2020. They soared from 2020 to 2021, increasing 16.4%, resulting in an average home price of $294,934. Rising home prices have been the norm since the Great Recession of 2007-2009, but it’s uncommon for the mean price of a home in our area to increase by over 16% in 1 year. The size of our market continues to expand, thanks in part to a strong economy and recent accolades that have sparked national interest in “Yeah, that Greenville.” The result has been classic Economics 101--shrinking supply paired with rising demand results in shortages--and rising prices.
Noticeably decreasing affordability numbers
In January of 2020 in Greenville’s market, a family earning the median income, earned 115% of what they needed to qualify for a mortgage, if they had a down payment of 20%. One year later that family earning the median income would have exactly (100%) of the amount needed to qualify for a mortgage, still assuming a 20% down payment. More families are excluded from qualifying for a mortgage as the housing affordability number drops.
Takeaways for home buyers and sellers in Greater Greenville.
Obviously, home buyers view these numbers differently than home sellers do. Here are the key takeaways for each group.
If you’re planning to buy:
Get your financing in order before you ever start looking for a home. Talk to your bank or credit union. Or go online and complete a pre-qualification so that you know how much home you can afford.
Determine which 3 or 4 criteria are critical to you, and concentrate on homes with those features.
Be prepared to act fast. Be flexible with your schedule. Communicate frequently and quickly with your real estate agent so that opportunities don't slip past you.
Consider some outside-the-box thinking. If you are handy--or have a friend or relative who is--you may be able to find a diamond-in-the-rough home that with minimal expense and a fair amount of sweat equity might be perfect for you.
If you’re planning to sell:
Price your home wisely. Even in a strong seller’s market, most buyers are savvy enough to spot a home that’s drastically overpriced given its quality and location.
Make your home buyer-friendly. A neat yard and a tidy home speak volumes. Like the old, (old) song says, “Little things mean a lot.” They really do.
Be emotionally prepared to sell. Expect to receive offers . . . and be ready to accept one.
These are just a few of the January highlights, and the takeaways from them. At Walker’s Riverside Properties, we would love to discuss Greater Greenville's January housing stats with you further and guide you through your next home sale or purchase. Mick can be reached at 864-420-7771. Sandy’s phone number is 864-420-7772.