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March home sales skyrocket

Subheadline: 
Unit sales exceed 500 at earliest point in a decade

  • Realtor Austin Hill adjusts a for-sale sign at a property in the Kensington Park neighborhood off Oxford Drive and Paulsen Street. Local home sales skyrocketed in March as new buyers snatched up homes in Pooler, Richmond Hill, the southside and midtown. - Julia Ritchey/Savannah Morning News

Metro Savannah home sales skyrocketed in March, surpassing February sales by 119 units as buyers snatched up homes in Pooler, southside and Richmond Hill at an encouraging clip.

A total of 515 homes sold in Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties last month, according to local real estate tracker Savannah Multi-List Corp., a year-over-year increase of 22 percent.

“This is very, very positive news for sellers and very good news for the total economy,” said Bonnie Gaster, president of the Savannah Area Realtors, a local industry group.

It wasn’t until June of last year when home sales heated up to break the 500 mark — and continued to do so for the next two months. The last time home sales broke 500 this early in the year was about a decade ago, according to Gaster.

Local Realtor Austin Hill of Austin Hill Realty echoed Gaster, saying he was pleased at the rate of sales so far this year.

“Our first quarter has been off-the-charts good,” said Hill. “We’re seeing, especially in the 31405 ZIP, a lot of young, first-time home buyers coming to the market.”

An open house over the weekend at a property he had listed for $185,000 in the Kensington Park neighborhood attracted more than a dozen people. Midtown and southside neighborhoods were among the top-five performing ZIPs last month.

“We’re seeing more conveniences moving in — the nicer grocery stores, the revitalization of the Hodgson Memorial and Mall Boulevard corridor,” he said. “The retail environment is really spurring this kind of midtown-southside development.”

While existing homes performed well in Chatham, new home sales heated up in Effingham. Gaster said new-construction home sales under contract in Effingham County had surpassed Chatham County for the first time on record.

A total of 48 new homes went under contract in Effingham compared to 46 in Chatham. Thirty-four new homes went under contract in Bryan.

Overall, the number of new homes under contract in all three counties jumped 54 percent over the year.

“This is a real historic mark considering what we’ve been through,” said Gaster.

West Chatham and Effingham County saw strong sales, as well as Wilmington Island and midtown. In West Chatham in particular, Gaster said, development is meeting the demands of the people who are moving there and enjoying its new amenities.

“Price points on westside are marvelous,” she said.

Metro area median sale prices jumped to $195,000 from $180,450 in February, an 8 percent increase. Inventory, meanwhile, shrunk to 6.3 months, or 3,243 active listings, another metric of good health for the real estate market.

Hill said with prices increasing, good inventory is getting harder to find between the $190,000-$300,000 range, particularly in attractive neighborhoods.

“I feel like we’re really low on inventory in fairly priced, good condition homes,” said Hill. “We’re low in Kensington Park, Fairway Oaks, Ardsley Park — it’s really hard to find something in the sweet spot under $500,000.”

Gaster said another interesting point was the increase in number of homes both listed and put under contract in March, at 122, which had previously never gone higher than 90 or so.

She said this should make sellers more confident in listing their homes, but also encourage first-time homebuyers who’ve been on the fence.

“The good news is interest rates are steady, prices are creeping up, but not significantly enough that those who have not bought yet can’t get a good deal,” said Gaster. “There’s still some extremely good deals out there.”

More Info

Breakout Box: 

Top-selling ZIP Codes in March 2015

1) 31322 (Pooler) 76

2) 31419 (Southside) 75

3) 31324 (Richmond Hill) 56

4) 31405 (Midtown) 40

5) 31410 (Wilmington Island) 40

6) 31326 (Rincon) 38

7) 31312 (Guyton) 35

Source: Savannah Multi-List Corp. 

 

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