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Anderson housing market heating up
Anderson County’s housing market has recovered from the Great Recession that decimated the industry nationally and locally.
A total of 1,870 homes sold last year in Anderson County, according to data from the Western Upstate Multiple Listing Service. That total represents a 40 percent increase from the 1,333 sales in 2011, which marked the bottom of the downturn for the county’s housing market.
Prices also have bounced back in Anderson County. The median price for homes that sold last year was $129,900, which matched the pre-recession median price from 2007 and is nearly 15 percent higher than the 2011 median price of $113,000. Nationally, the median home price is currently $188,900.
The momentum in the county’s housing market shows no sign of slowing. So far this year, total homes sales exceed $61.5 million, up 39 percent from the same period in 2014.
As of Monday, 154 homes had sold in Anderson County during March, compared with 139 sales for the same month last year.
Terri Anderson said March “was the best month ever” for her real estate firm, Terri’s Team of Western Upstate Keller Williams, which opened five years ago.
Realtors say low interest rates, the availability of jobs and heightened consumer confidence are fueling the surge in the area’s housing market.
Citing these factors, Anderson real estate agent Elizabeth Gray-Carr expects a “flurry of activity” during the rest of 2015.
“The fear is gone,” Gray-Carr said Monday.
The pace of homebuilding also is intensifying in the Upstate.
A total of 1,227 residential building permits were issued in Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties last year, nearly double the 616 permits issued in 2010. In Anderson County, investment in residential building grew from $104 million in 2013 to $145 million last year, according to figures provided by the Home Builders Association of Anderson.
“It’s a lot better than it was and it’s getting better every day,” said Tommy Dunn, president of the builders association. He also is chairman of the Anderson County Council.
Buyers and sellers
Gray-Carr said first-time buyers sparked the recovery in Anderson County’s housing market. In recent months, she said, more and more “move-up buyers” like Erin and Matthew Drago have gotten in on the action.
Earlier this month, the couple sold a 1,300 square-foot home on Leconte Road in Anderson that they bought as newlyweds in 2005. Eight days later, they closed on a home with a pool in the nearby Huntington Hills subdivision that will offer more room for their three young children.
Erin Drago said she and her husband spent more than a year looking at properties before putting their Leconte Road home on the market last October. After numerous showings, they found a buyer in January.
Selling and buying a home in a little over a week wasn’t as much of a hassle as she anticipated, Drago said.
“We just floated through everything,” she said.
The couple and their children are living with friends while a contractor renovates their new home, a process that will take about six weeks to complete.
About a quarter of the homes that sold in Anderson County last year cost $100,000 to $150,000. But the biggest jump in activity involved homes priced between $300,000 and $400,000, a range that saw an increase in total sales of nearly 60 percent compared with 2013.
Gray-Carr said the trend will extend this year to even pricier dwellings.
“I think we will see a lot more sales on the higher, higher end,” she said.
James and Donna Leitch are hoping that her prediction proves accurate. Terri’s Team listed their five-bedroom, four-bathroom home on Lake Hartwell earlier this month with an asking price of $799,750. The couple paid $799,000 in 2007 for the home, which has multiple fireplaces, a sandy beach with sunset views and a covered dock with two boat slips.
Donna Leitch said her husband recently retired as an engineer with Fluor in Greenville, shortly after they returned from a three-year stint in Saudi Arabia. They plan to set out soon in their pickup and trailer on a mobile ministry mission.
“We are selling more than a home — we are selling a lifestyle on the lake,” she said.
“all tied together”
The Upstate’s residential construction sector is finally flourishing again, said Russ Price, executive director of the Oconee Home Builders Association.
“We are doing a lot better than we were years ago,” Price said. “Pent-up demand is the main thing.”
The one drawback, he said, is that builders are having difficulty finding workers because many either retired or found new occupations during the prolonged downturn.
Dunn, who hopes to build six homes this year, said residential construction has not returned to pre-recession levels.
“I don’t think we will ever see those days again,” he said. “That is probably a good thing because money was too easy to get.”
The area’s strong economy has contributed to the uptick in building, he said. And in turn, Dunn said, the increase in construction activity is helping to further bolster the economy.
“Builders are buying shingles and laying bricks — and that makes it possible for more people to go out and get new cars and trucks,” Dunn said. “It’s all tied together.”