The Aiken County real estate market is sizzling, as anyone who has paid attention to recent trends knows.
The average sales price of a home is the highest it's been in the last five years, with the number of units closed also beating the year-to-date data from the past five years.
"(The market's) hot for Aiken," said Donna Taylor, a Meybohm Real Estate vice president and associate broker based in Aiken.
According to data that is current as of June 30, Aiken County has seen year-over-year increases in three major areas pertaining to existing residential sales: average price per square foot, number of units closed and average sales price. The 2021 average price per square foot is sitting at $113.47, which is up from $101.35 at the same point in 2020 and a big spike from 2017's average of $84.55. In that respect, Aiken County is above the average across the CSRA, which is $111.79.
As of June 30, 709 units have closed in Aiken County, up from 651 units at this point in 2020 and 550 at this point in 2017.
So far this year, the average sales price of homes in Aiken County has been $210,000, up from $183,115 at this same date last year and way up from the average of $149,900 in 2017.
“In talking to our agents, buyers are still buying homes on the high side," Andrea Bowles, sales manager at Blanchard and Calhoun's West Augusta office, said. "If you’re selling a house and buying a house, you’re doing OK because you’re selling high and then buying high."
Bowles said she doesn't expect the heat to be turned down any time soon, as interest rates continue to stay low.
Jane Page Thompson, with Carolina Real Estate Company, said one problem has been a scarcity of inventory, with the supply being low and demand being high.
"Because of the bidding war and the scarcity of the market, you’re getting three or five or six bids on a house," Thompson said. "People are trying to outbid each other because they need a place to live. That’s driving the sale of the house up."
Bowles also referenced an inventory problem but took a different angle.
"From a national perspective, from everything I’ve read, one of the biggest issues with that is the millennials, who are the largest group since the baby boomers, they’re all starting to form households," Bowles said. "So, there are fewer homes available than there are households being formed. That’s going to take quite some time to adjust from."
Another piece of the puzzle has been new construction in Aiken County, which has seen major increases the past five years, in much the same vein as the existing residential sales.
The 2021 average price per square foot for new construction is $117.49, which is up from $106.65 at the same point in 2020 and 2017's average of $90.42.
As of June 30, 300 new construction units have closed in Aiken County, up from 251 units at this point in 2020 and 180 at this point in 2017.
So far this year, the average sales price of newly constructed homes in Aiken County has been $265,228, up from $244,480 at this same date last year and from the average of $230,000 in 2017.
In terms of why people are moving to Aiken County, a few different theories were thrown out by Realtors.
Mark Thompson, president of the Aiken Association of Realtors, said Hitchcock Woods, an abundance of golf courses and the equestrian community can be some of the area's draws. He also mentioned a post-pandemic line of reasoning.
"There’s been a lot of relocation and I think (it's) because of the (ability) of people to work from anywhere," Mark Thompson said. "If they’ve been thinking about getting out of a big city and moving to a smaller area, (they) are taking advantage of that now."
Mark Thompson said he and his family moved to Aiken from northern California 26 years ago and have never regretted it.
Bowles commented on the "drivability and close proximity" of all of the communities in Aiken County, saying that each had its own flavor and offers something different for residents to see. She also mentioned the expansion of Fort Gordon as a driver of relocation.
"It’s just a great destination," Bowles said.
Taylor ended with a piece of advice to potential home sellers. She said if people are considering selling their homes, they need to decide early where they're going to move.
"They have to count on the fact that their house is going to get sold and closed relatively quickly, and they don’t need to be caught in a bind not having a place to go when they get an offer on their house," Taylor said.