MYRTLE BEACH -- Grand Strand real estate sales are outpacing those in other parts of South Carolina but prices continue to fall at a faster rate than the state average, according to a new report.
Housing sales statewide jumped almost 25 percent from last year in June and were up about 23 percent for the first half of the year, when compared with 2009, according to statistics released by Columbia-based S.C. Realtors. The area had the third greatest increase in housing sales, behind the Hilton Head and Greenwood areas.
Median single-family home prices statewide were down about 3.4 percent in June, and were down about 0.2 percent in the first half of the year, when compared with 2009.
Prices along the Grand Strand fell at a faster rate than the state average in the first half of the year, but local prices didn't drop as much as several other parts of the state including the Hilton Head Island area, which saw the biggest reduction.
The Grand Strand and other areas that also have many investor-buyers are following a similar pattern of low prices driving up sales, said Tom Maeser, a real estate analyst with the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors.
"We saw probably more extreme price increases in 2005, 2006, 2007 because investors were buying properties and were bidding properties up," he said. "It seems only natural that we were the ones taking the bigger hits."
In more rural and more stable markets anchored by manufacturing and business, prices tend to fluctuate less dramatically, Maeser said.
The continued price drops on the Grand Strand are driven by a continuing stream of foreclosures and short sales.
"The lower the price, especially in a touristy area, the more sales you are going to see," he said. The investor market tends to be more volatile but also presents some benefits and when values drop investors will come in and buy property, he said.
"I think the positive of that is that we are probably going to see a faster recovery than some of the other communities," he said.