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Grand Strand homes flying off market could be fueled by pandemic
A construction worker builds a home in the Market Common area of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on March 19, 2021 (Simon Williams, WPDE)

Homes along the Grand Strand are selling at record levels, and most of the sales are for brand new homes, but why?

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The head of the realtors association for coastal Carolina said it’s for a number of reasons, but the pandemic is intensifying them.

“For many years now, the area has been the second-fastest-growing MSA in the country and what the pandemic has done is maybe accelerate that growth a little bit faster,” said Laura Crowther, the CEO for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors.

She said when everything in the country shut down, people looked around, and asked what they had. The majority of that was outdoor activities, where you could safely distance in nature.

“We got the beaches, but we also got a lot of outdoor activities that people can take advantage of," she said. “That has been a trend nationwide and we just happen to have a lot of it available.”

She said during the lockdown, people re-arranged their priorities, focusing on the quality of life.

“They got to see how small their homes were, so a lot of people decided that, ‘you know, maybe it’s time to upsize,’” she said.

“Where else can you go and live in a beach area, a resort town, for the cost that we have here?”

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That same need could be behind what she said is a new trend for homes to have pieces of nature inside.

“You’re seeing a lot more wood treatments, you’re seeing a lot more natural look, more windows,” she said.

“HGTV has been so popular and people have gotten into these shows and what’s hot right now, and a lot of the new construction has that.

South Carolina officials shared charts on state websites that show overall, building permits are trending upward, but there are some falls, month-to-month.

Right now, lumber is 20% more expensive, and Crowther said builders and developers are feeling that.

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“Even though prices are increasing, and it's trending more to a sellers’ market,” she said, “with historic low-interest rates, even now with seeing a little tick up in interest rates, the affordability is still incredible.”

She said it’s a priority to make sure it stays that way.

“We always have to take into consideration the end consumer and making sure that we still remain an affordable destination, and that we don’t do anything that would negatively affect affordability for the people that want to come work and live here.”

She said she expects the growth to continue into 2022, but a lack of inventory could slow that. She said the association is focusing on creating inventory while protecting the quality of life here, and not turning into a big city.

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