S.C. Home Buyers Not Riding Turnaround Wave…Yet

February 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Homeowners

Home buyers continue to hang back in South Carolina even as an economic turnaround is gaining strength.

Home sales plunged in every area of the state in November, putting half of the state on track to finish worse than in 2009, with the Columbia area in last place.

There are some positive signs in the Midlands: More people signed contracts to purchase homes in the coming months and – after months of decline – the number of new homes being built has leveled out.

“With hesitation, I would say we have bottomed out,” said Earl McLeod, chief executive of the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia. “It has taken a while to recover to some degree of normalcy. We hope it’s a trend that might continue.”

Builders in the Midlands took out 2,447 building permits for new homes through November, compared to 2,440 during the same period last year. That’s still 60 percent below the peak in 2006, when nearly 6,000 permits were issued through November.

But it puts the Midlands on track to finish in the positive for the first time in four years.

Home sales, meanwhile, continue to drop. After a positive first quarter, sales have been sliding all year and sank 35 percent in the Columbia area in November, compared to the same month last year.

Sales are down 17 percent through November in Columbia, compared to the same period last year, putting the Midlands on track to finish worst in the state. Median home price, however, is up 1.4 percent for the year to $141,000.

Sales declined 31 percent statewide. Even the coast, which had a stretch of gains for most of the year as investors snapped up deeply discounted foreclosures, had a weak November. Median price statewide is up 1 percent to $149,990.

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