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Lower-priced housing inventory decreasing

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By Everett Ballenger 

We recently looked at the various price brackets of what homes were selling for in the five areas (the city of Beaufort, Port Royal, Moss Oaks, Lady’s Island and Burton) that we monitor. 

It was interesting but not surprising to see the difference in sales numbers the further we went up the price scale. 

This month I thought it might be of interest to look by price bracket at the number of homes sold in the last 12 months in the same five areas, using a single date in September to compare single-family home inventory on a year-on-year basis.  

As to the question of inventory based on the data in the chart, the number of houses available in the areas we monitor has decreased 3.9 percent. This decrease is primarily occurring in homes priced under $300,000. 

Other than the $500,000 to $599,999 price range, which saw 47.8 percent decrease, the price brackets above $599,999 inventory remained mostly steady over 2016.  

I feel the year-on-year drop of only 3.9 percent is encouraging when one looks back at the 2015-2016 decrease 12.7 percent. 

A steady inventory stream is vital to keeping the Beaufort real estate market humming along. 

Agents that were, and still are in the business during the housing collapse in the first decade of 2000, witnessed an almost unprecedented decline in new home building. Needless to say, with such cutback eventually it would come back to bite us as regards to the amount of homes available for sale today.  

The inventory situation in Northern Beaufort County has been alleviated to some extent by the influx of national building companies that can mass produce homes at reasonable cost to the home buyer. 

One possible fly in the ointment may be homes that were affected by flooding from Matthew and Irma. The homeowners will need to declare any flood damage they may have suffered when they go to sell the property, and this in turn may dissuade some potential buyers from purchasing that property. Only time will tell if this does indeed become an issue.  

Everett Ballenger is the owner of B.I.C Ballenger Realty and is the former president of the Beaufort County Association of Realtors.

Low inventory to blame for malaise

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By Janet Gresham

There has been a general slowdown in home sales across the country, and this cannot be blamed on negative economic news. Unemployment remains low and wage growth, though nothing to overly celebrate, has held steady or increased for several years in a row. 

There is strong demand for home buying, emphasized by higher prices and multiple offers on homes for sale in many submarkets. As has been the case for month after month – and now year after year – low inventory is the primary culprit in Beaufort County for any sales malaise rather than lack of offers.

New Listings were down 6.0 percent to 250. 

Pending Sales increased 6.2 percent to 240. 

Inventory grew 0.8 percent to 1,005 units.

Prices were still soft as Median Sales Price was down 1.0 percent to $196,000. 

Days on Market decreased 25.9 percent to 80 days. 

Months Supply of Inventory was up 1.8 percent to 5.6 months, indicating that supply increased relative to demand.

With job creation increasing and mortgage rates remaining low, the pull toward homeownership is expected to continue. Yet housing starts have been drifting lower, and some are beginning to worry that a more serious housing shortage could be in the cards if new construction and building permit applications continue to come in lower in year-over-year comparisons while demand remains high. 

Homebuilder confidence suggests otherwise, so predictions of a gloomy future should be curbed for the time being.

Janet Gresham is the CEO of the Beaufort County Association of Realtors and the Beaufort Multiple Listing Service Inc.

Real Estate briefs for March 30th-April 5th

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Realtor certified in military relocation

Robert Moul, of Weichert, Realtors-Coastal Properties, has been awarded the nationally recognized Military Relocation Professional Certification by the National Association of Realtors. 

The certification is presented to Realtors who help military personnel, veterans and their families find housing that lets them make the best use of their benefits and serves the unique needs of military life.

When military staff and their families relocate, the services of a real estate professional who understands their needs and timetables can make the transfer easier, faster and less stressful, according to a press release.

Realtors who earn this certification know how to work with active duty military buyers and sellers, as well as veterans. 

“We are incredibly thankful to the current and former members of our military for their service,” said Karen Ryan, owner/broker of Weichert, Realtors-Coastal Properties. “We’re also proud of Robert for earning this certification and going the extra mile to help the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, both active and retired, with their dreams of home ownership.”


Quick sales, low supply kick off new year

The start of the year ushered in a wave of good news about a hot stock market, higher wages and an active home sales environment, according to the Beaufort County Association of Realtors. 

At the same time, housing prices have continued to rise, and the low inventory situation and affordability crunch has been particularly hard on first-time buyers struggling to get into the market. 

Nevertheless, buyer activity is easily outpacing seller activity in much of the country, culminating in relatively quick sales and low supply. Demand definitely remained strong this month, the release stated.

New Listings were up 11.8 percent to 255; Pending Sales increased 1.1 percent to 186; and Inventory shrank 6 percent to 920 units. 

Prices moved higher as Median Sales Price was up 2.6 percent to $179,500. Days on Market decreased 1.1 percent to 86 days. Months Supply of Inventory was down 12.3 percent to five months, indicating that demand increased relative to supply. 

Unemployment has reached pre-recession levels, and Americans remain optimistic about finding quality employment. This matters because job growth and higher paychecks fuel home purchases.

Unfortunately, according to the association, that won’t matter for potential buyers if price appreciation outpaces income growth and if mortgage rates continue their upward trend.

Sellers are getting a generous number of offers in this market. The worry for sellers then becomes that there will not be a generous number of homes to choose from when they become buyers, the release states. 

Elliott is named services coordinator

The Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island, which serves all of South Carolina including the counties of Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper, and Orangeburg, has promoted Dennis Elliott to Compliance and Internet Data Exchange services coordinator.

Prior to receiving this promotion, Elliott was a member services associate and handled all HHIMLS technology-based products, maintained relationships with MLS members and assisted new members as well as additional responsibilities. 


2016: A look back at the real estate market

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By Everett Ballenger

2015 was a landmark good year for Ballenger Realty and I suspect also for many other Beaufort real estate companies. Last year we equaled the volume we did in 2005. So it has taken us 10 years to get back to where we were in 2005 in regard to sales volume.

With 2015 being a strong year for the local real estate market, the question in many Realtors’ mind was, “Would we see the progress continue into 2016?”

Looking at the data above, I think we can say a resounding “yes.”

When we look at the quarterly reports, we quite often see some minuses in either sales volume or in prices. As can be seen in the chart comparing the 2015/2016 sales for all types of property in Northern Beaufort County, the statistics show very healthy positive numbers across the board. 

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Residential sales

Single-family homes saw an 11.8-percent uptick in units sold in 2016 and an excellent surge of 16.8 percent in sales volume. It has been a considerable amount of time since we have seen anything like this strong growth across the board. 

The market gives every appearance of being very steady, evenly spread and sustainable. We are not seeing the “crazy” market of the early 2000s. One only has to look at the “conservative” 5.6 percent rise in both median and average price to allay anyone’s fear that the local market might be overheating.  

The total Northern Beaufort County real estate market was equally as spirited as was the “Residential” section. 

One thing to consider in looking at the “Total” market is that it includes land and commercial sales, both of which have been on the weak side for many years. Considering that, the “Total” market is even more impressive. 

So will we see 2017 evolve into a better year than 2016?  

At the time of writing this article, we are only about a month and a half into 2017, but I will say that the January numbers for this year were again ahead of the year before.

Realtors, by nature, are optimistic and by nature see the glass as being half full. So let’s hope this optimism is well placed and the local market continues its steady recovery.  

Please remember that in times of change, both good and bad, you especially need a professional Realtor to assist in the selling of your home or purchasing a new one to insure you are basing your decisions on the latest information available.  

Everett Ballenger is the owner of Ballenger Realty and is the past president of the Beaufort County Association of Realtors.

New home construction increases on Lady’s Island

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By Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association

Prior to the 2007 crash of both the economy and the housing market, Lady’s Island averaged 182 new homes each year for 10 years. Since that time the island has seen an average of 45 new homes each year. 

As can be seen by the chart, in 2015 permits for construction of new homes on Lady’s Island jumped 90 percent from the preceding year. This year did see a slight drop in number but still indicated a strong market for new homes on the island.

The number of single-family residential permits issued in 2015 for Lady’s Island saw a significant jump from the previous year but the basis of the jump came from one source.  

Of the total number of 2015 permits, 49 percent of the increase was directly attributable to national-level home builder D.R. Horton and its Tidewater Creek development on Little Capers Road. 

In 2016 the total number of new home permits issued for single-family residences on Lady’s Island dropped 11 percent (13 permits) but D.R. Horton construction accounted for only 28 percent of the new homes.  

Based on this it would appear that the demand for new housing on Lady’s Island is becoming more general in nature with a wider variety of homebuilders responding to the increased demand. For example, Manorhouse Builders and its Somerset Point community accounted for 12 housing permits in 2016. 

In the unincorporated portion of Beaufort County the bottom in new housing starts was reached in 2011 when only 164 single-family permits were issued in the entire unincorporated portion of the county. This last year (2016) there was 343 permits issued by Beaufort County for construction of new homes. Worthy of note is the fact that 30 percent of those homes were built on Lady’s Island.

Things look bright for real estate in Northern Beaufort County

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By Everett Ballenger

The first three quarters of 2016 were especially strong for real estate in Northern Beaufort County, excepting September, which was below last year’s sales number. We saw a similar dip in October 2015. 

For us as a company, 2015 saw for the first time we equaled the sales volume we did way back in 2006. I suspect that many other companies and agents saw similar sales numbers as we did. 

In 2016, unit and dollar sales volume have been well above 2015, and as can been seen by the excellent fourth quarter stats. 

It is very encouraging to see numbers up all across the board – with the exception on the city of Beaufort and Port Royal – but even then they saw decent price increases.

The city of Beaufort saw a drop in sales volume of about 20 percent, and actual unit sales were down 12 percent. 

But as mentioned, the city saw significant price appreciation, so one would assume some higher- end homes sold in this last quarter.

Mossy Oaks had some excellent results this quarter. We do not normally see such powerful moves in the well-established Mossy Oaks area, but again there must have been some larger homes sold for there to be an average increase of 78 percent, and median increase of 40 percent.

One caveat to consider, with only 18 unit sales, it does not take many high (or low) sales to swing the “average” and “median” prices one way or other.  

It’s interesting that the two “cities” (Port Royal and Beaufort) were the only two areas that saw a decrease in volume and unit sales. Although again they saw a decent rise in property values, “average” up 8 percent and “median” up 9 percent.  

Burton has been a real estate hot spot in Northern Beaufort County, usually only trailing Lady’s Island in performance. 

It saw a very healthy 38 percent increase in sales volume, and a 4.5 percent increase in unit sales. The rise in Burton “average and “median” values was also of note, being up 25 percent and 13 percent respectively.  

Lady’s Island was again the area to beat. With only Mossy Oaks performing better, but with a lowly 18 unit sales, as opposed to Lady’s Island’s 83.

The increase of 48 percent in sales volume, and 30 percent in unit sales is quite impressive to say the least. Also of note is the “average” price of $313,094 (+15 percent) and the “median” price of $265,000 (+9 percent) over 2015. With all the new construction aon Lady’s Island, I feel we will be seeing some strong real estate numbers for some time to come. 

We will review the whole real estate year of 2016 in next month’s article, but if the total year is anything like the last quarter of 2016, we all should be comforted that Northern Beaufort County is indeed back on track, but with nothing like the “craziness” of the mid 2000s. 

Land sales are still lagging way behind residential homes, and there still are some outstanding deals to be had. 

Only time will tell if land will ever catch up with home appreciations again.

Everett Ballenger is the former president of the Beaufort County Association of Realtors.

Real Estate briefs for February 16th-22nd

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Eavenson joins Front Light Building

The Front Light Building Company, a Lowcountry homebuilder dedicated to creating living environments that promote healthy and engaging lifestyles, has announced that Lindsey Eavenson of Atlanta, has joined the company as director of construction.  

Eavenson, a licensed residential contractor, will be in charge of all day-to-day construction activities for the company.  

She brings a wide range of experience in construction management to Front Light, and has a great deal of expertise in the areas of historic renovations, rapid production models, and semi-custom homes in some of the most restrictive communities in the Lowcountry.

Realtors group names Realtor of Year

Phillip Nagley has been named the 2016 Realtor of the Year by the Beaufort County Association of Realtors.

The group recognizes those who have served not only the real estate profession but also their communities. Winners are selected for possessing qualities like Realtor Spirit, participation in civic activities and local, the state and national associations. 

Nagley is treasurer of the Beaufort County Association of Realtors, Political Action Committee chair and serves as treasurer of the state RPAC Trustees. 

For more information about the Beaufort County Association of Realtors, visit 

A look at new home sales (2015-2016)

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By Everett Ballenger 

Although at the time of writing this article, we have about six weeks until the end of the year, I thought it might be a good idea to see how many of the houses sold in 2016 were new.

There are a number of interesting variables to consider when looking at new home sales.

The dates we are looking at are houses closed from Jan. 1-Nov. 11. We do have to consider in these numbers that some houses would have been started in 2015 and completed and sold in 2016, but the same can be said for the 2015 numbers.

Another quite important anomaly we need to take into account is that an appreciable number of new homes do not get entered into our MLS. There are various reasons for this.

For example, a developer may sell a lot to a buyer or builder – then in turn someone will have a new home built on that lot. The property is never listed in the MLS, thus not showing up as a new home sale.

The overall percentage of new 2016 home sales in the Northern Beaufort County Association of Realtors MLS is down 2.6 percent for the dates we are looking at.

There were some bright spots, though.

Lady’s Island was a very bright spot indeed. The 42 new home sales out of an outstanding 358 units so far in 2016 represents an increase of 4 percent over 2015 and 12 percent of the total 2016  sales.

With the national builder projects now coming, we may see that percentage increase in 2017.

To provide a bit of perspective as to the amount of improvement which has occurred in the local real estate market in the last five years, in 2011 for the same period of time and the same areas we had only 47 new home sales as compared to 71 (+51 percent) this year.

There were366 total sales in 2011 as compared to 948 (+159 percent) this year.

It is encouraging to see so much new home activity in Northern Beaufort County.

However, a word of caution: Buying a new home in a large new development can have its drawbacks over buying in a more established area. This can be especially true if the homeowner does not plan on staying in the home for more than two to three years.

When they are ready to sell, but the development still has new construction going on, it can sometimes be difficult to sell a pre-owned home for a reasonable price when the home owner is competing with the builder, who is selling brand new homes at a very similar price.

Another encouraging sign that builders and developers are confident in the Beaufort real estate market is that we are seeing pockets of “spec” homes coming onto the market. This is something we have not seen for many years.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas plus a fine and prosperous new year!

Everett Ballenger is the owner of B.I.C Ballenger Realty and is the former president of the Beaufort County Association of Realtors.

Real estate briefs for December 15th-21st

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Hilton Head MLS Chief Executive Officer Yvette Acuff, former NFL payer J.J. Birden and Hilton Head COO Colette Stevenson attend the Real Estate Tech Talks in November.
Hilton Head MLS Chief Executive Officer Yvette Acuff, former NFL payer J.J. Birden and Hilton Head COO Colette Stevenson attend the Real Estate Tech Talks in November.

Multiple listing service hosts tech talks

The Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island (HHIMLS) hosted hundreds of Realtors, brokers, agents and others related to the real estate industry at the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa for the 2016 Real Estate Tech Talks on Nov. 16-17.

“What an honor it was to have these nationally-known experts here in Hilton Head to help our industry grow and succeed,” said Colette Stevenson, chief operating officer of Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island. “It was an exciting couple of days to learn from the best in the industry about the way our profession is changing.”

Former NFL wide receiver J.J. Birden addressed seizing opportunities in a sea of change. Don Hutson, author of the “One Minute Negotiator,” explained you have to sell value, not just real estate to win in today’s market. Darity Wesley, with the Lotus Law Center, had tips on how to protect transactions from cyber threats.

Curt Beardsley, with – the online real estate transaction tool – told agents how they can use the website instead of thinking of it as competition. Terri Murphy, featured on ABC, NBC and CNBC as a sales industry expert, shared her secrets to engaging prospects. Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic, America’s largest provider of advanced property and ownership information, analytics and data-enabled services, explained how the real estate market may look in the future.

Many other main speakers, as well as break-out sessions, filled the two days that culminated with a 40-year anniversary celebration gala honoring Chief Executive Officer Yvette Acuff.

Weichert, Realtors adds two new team members

Connie Rigdon has joined the Weichert, Realtors-Coastal Properties sales team, while Pat Griffith has been promoted.

Rigdon has been practicing real estate since 2011.

She was born in Taipei, Taiwan, spent her formative years there, but moved to Hawaii and then to Southern California and consequently spent her years between all three places.

She had a private design practice for 10 years and is extremely involved in the community.

Rigdon can be reached in the Beaufort office at 808-345-4252.

In other news, Griffith has been promoted to senior vice president of the company. In her new role she will be responsible for providing direction and guidance to the management team and for the overall growth and operation of the sales team.

She has over 30 years of sales experience in the real estate field.

After moving to the Lowcountry, Griffith joined Weichert, Realtors-Coastal Properties as the sales manager for the Bluffton office and is currently the sales manager for the Sun City office.

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