March was a record month for home sales and housing market inventory in Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties. During the month, 629 homes sold – a six-year high and inventory hit a six year low coming in at just under five months, according to monthly data released by Savannah Multi-List Corp.
“We’re starting to turn inventory from Hurricane Matthew. A lot of those properties that were listed then are now going under contract,” said Linda King, president of the Savannah Area Realtors, a local industry group.
“We’re normalizing again. We had a glitch from the storm, but things are returning to normal.”
In a healthy market, inventory usually hovers around five to six months worth and King said in certain areas around Chatham County — including Tybee Island, Thunderbolt and downtown Savannah — there are more buyers than houses.
For sellers, King offered a few simple tips to make your property more attractive to potential buyers.
“You want to make you house a place they want to come in, so don’t forget about the outside. I always tell my sellers to paint, wax or freshen up the front door,” she said, adding that the National Association of Realtors and Realtor.com also have lots of resources for sellers when it comes to sprucing up your house.
“Edge your sidewalks, mow the grass and always make sure the mailbox is neat and painted. These things really make the house sparkle,” she said.
Overall sales volume for March also hit a record with sales pulling in more than $140 million across the three counties. It was almost a $35 million increase compared to this time last year and about $43 million more than February sales volume.
Savannah’s midtown and west side (31405) brought in the most money with $17.5 million; followed by the Georgetown area (31419) with $15.3 million and Richmond Hill (31324) with $14.5 million in sales.
While there has been some fluctuation in the median sales price this year — March averaged $195,000 up from $190,000 in February — King attributes the jump in overall numbers to moving a greater number of higher priced properties.
“Primarily, it’s those properties that weren’t selling last year. I don’t think all prices are going up, but there’s just more expensive houses moving than this time last year, which is good,” she said.
The Savannah-area market isn’t the only one seeing increases. According to the monthly report published by the National Association of Realtors March sales across the nation hit their highest pace in over 10 years. National sales hit a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.71 million sales in March, according the NAR. Sales were up all across the country, except in the west.
In Savannah, the average days before a sell was 121, up from 119 in January and 120 in February and nine days more than this time last year, but nationally homes moved at a much higher pace typically staying on the market for only 34 days down from 47 days this time last year.
“The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in the report.
“Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March for sales to muster a strong gain. Sales will go up as long as inventory does.”
Locally, King also expects things to keep moving upward. Earlier this year when interest rates bumped up it spurred activity of those buyers hoping to catch the low end of an increase and a recent rate dip has caused another round of eager buyers, she said.
“It seems that the confidence has come back to the market,” she said.
“Investors are back more than they were before and we’re seeing a considerable uptick.”
By the numbers
March unit sales by the year
Top unit sales by zip code
31419 (Georgetown) 88
31405 (Midtown/West side) 67
31322 (Pooler) 61
31324 (Richmond Hill) 51
31407 (Port Wentworth) 43