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Savannah area home sales have hot summer; Irma effect remains unclear

Savannah-area home sales had a hot summer with unit sales breaking records in both July and August.

In July 681 homes sold across Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties, an increase of 73 units compared to July 2016 and 677 homes sold in August, an increase of 39 units year-over-year, according to data released by Savannah Multi List Corp.

Home sales across the three-county area have broken 500 units, which is the unofficial goal for the local industry, every month this year except for January and February.

“We’ve certainly seen a steady increase in the market,” said Linda King, president of the Savannah Area Realtors.

“The economy is much stronger than this time last year and it’s reflected in sales along with home values being up and low interest rates.”

The overall number of homes sold in 2017 is outpacing last year by 533 units or 11.8 percent and each month this year of both unit sales and sales volume has shown year-over-year gains.

Inventory, which hit a low of 3.96 months in June, didn’t fluctuate much between July and August moving from 4.45 months in July to 4.42 last months. A healthy market typically hovers around five to six months of inventory, overall, King said the numbers so far this year have been better than expected.

“Consumer confidence has stabilized since the market downfall and people are once again feeling like there’s no better investment than property,” she said.

“Looking back, we expected steady gains this year, but it has exceeded our expectations. Inventory is low and homes aren’t lingering on the market, so people can buy and sell and get on with their lives.”

July pulled in a total of $155,111,746 from across the three counties, which was an increase of about $9.6 million compared to last year. Georgetown and Richmond Hill tied for the most units sold during July with 86 each, but Richmond Hill produced the most sales volume with $24,445,096 and Georgetown took the second spot with $15,636,399 for the month.

August sales volume increased about $8 million compared to 2016 bringing in $160,060,964 across the three county area. Eighty-six homes sold in Richmond Hill and 85 in Georgetown during the month and, like July, Richmond Hill was at the top for sales volume with $22,861,244, followed by Georgetown with $15,343,307 for the month.

King said multiple factors make Richmond Hill and Georgetown popular areas to settle down, including the final phases of the road construction on the southside nearing an end.

“Prices in Georgetown had gotten low and (the area) had seen a really negative impact, but now we’re seeing a steady increase in showings and sales,” she said of the area.

The median price for a home in July was $199,900 – down $2,250 from July 2016. The median price for a home in August was $208,600, which was an increase of $9,544 year-over-year, but still lower than the average price in the southern region of $220,400 during the month of August.

Price fluctuation can be attributed to various factors including, lower interest rates, multiple offers and a smaller number of foreclosures, King said.

“All indicators are good, and we look forward to continued growth,” she said of the rest of the year.

“We will see some impact from the latest storm, but it was nothing like Hurricane Matthew. Most of our housing market got very lucky.”

While it’s still too early to know the exact impact Hurricane Irma will have on September sales, King said the storm did delay closings and cause nearly two weeks of downtime as Realtors along with buyers and sellers dealt with power outages, traveling to evacuate and flooding, which she said it’s always a good idea to be protected from even if you’re not in a high risk zone.

“Even if you’re in Zone X you’re still in a flood zone because we live on the coast, it’s just not as likely to flood,” she said.

“Having flood insurance is always a good idea and it’s very affordable in Zone X. It’s a wise decision.”

National outlook

Home sales across the country slipped 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million in July from 5.51 million in June. July’s sales pace is still 2.1 percent above a year ago, but is the lowest of 2017. The trend continued into August with transactions falling 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in August from 5.44 million in July. Last month’s sales pace is less than one percent above last August, according to monthly reports released by the National Association of Realtors.

“Steady employment gains, slowly rising incomes and lower mortgage rates generated sustained buyer interest all summer long, but unfortunately, not more home sales,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in the August report.

“What’s ailing the housing market and continues to weigh on overall sales is the inadequate levels of available inventory and the upward pressure it’s putting on prices in several parts of the country. Sales have been unable to break out because there are simply not enough homes for sale.”

July sales in the south rose 2.2 percent to an annual rate of 2.28 million in July, which was 3.6 percent higher than 2016, while August sales decreased 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 2.15 million in August, and are now 0.9 percent lower than a year ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More Info

Breakout Box: 

By the numbers

Unit sales by the month

2016 2017

Jan. 356 405

Feb. 445 472

March 550 629

April 531 619

May 669 784

June 725 788

July 608 681

Aug. 638 677

Top selling zip codes for July

31419 (Georgetown) 86

31324 (Richmond Hill 86

31312 (Guyton) 58

31410 (Wilmington Island) 58

31326 (Rincon) 54

Top selling zip codes for Aug.

31324 (Richmond Hill) 86

31419 (Georgetown) 85

31322 (Pooler) 71

31407 (Port Wentworth) 62

31312 (Guyton) 53

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