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SC home sales plunged 21% in April amid virus outbreak, down 7% for year

Home sales

Home sales across South Carolina plummeted in April by more than 21 percent as people stayed home amid the coronavirus lockdown and thousands of others lost their jobs. File/Staff

Home sales across South Carolina nosedived about 21 percent last month as the coronavirus kept people locked inside and job losses piled up from shuttered businesses.

Across the state, 6,800 residential real estate transactions took place in April, down from 8,641 during the same period last year, according to preliminary figures from the South Carolina Realtors Association.

Almost every regional real estate group in the state reported double-digit declines in April. The only area with positive sales was Aiken, with 233 homes purchased last month, a 3.6 percent increase.

In the Charleston area, the trade group reported 1,511 sales in April, down 11.7 percent from the same month last year. Still, sales are up about 3 percent across the region during the first four months.

The plunge in sales statewide came after purchases during the first three months nearly matched last year's transactions across the Palmetto State, down by two to 19,934.

For the year, home sales are off by 7 percent during the first four months to 26,734 across South Carolina.

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"Realtors continue to do business, but it is not business as usual," said S.C. Realtors CEO Nick Kremydas, who added that members have been following various national safety guidelines "as they continue to work and help keep the South Carolina economy going."

With inventory remaining tight, home prices jumped by almost 11 percent statewide to $229,000 during the first four months of the year in South Carolina.

Despite the pandemic, homes sold more quickly with an almost 8 percent decrease in days on the market, down to 83 from 90 during the first third of 2019.

Rock-bottom mortgage rates are helping to boost sales, too.

Kremydas expects the virus outbreak to continue to affect the industry into late spring and early summer, but he believes pent-up demand from buyers will drive sales "as soon as the economy starts to churn again."

Home showings across South Carolina have already bounced back, not quite to pre-pandemic levels but considerably higher than the 71 percent plummet on April 12 compared to the same day last year.

Showings on Thursday were off 11 percent versus the same day last year, according to the ShowingTime Showing Index. Showings, which can correlate to sales, have continually improved since Easter Sunday.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.

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