Credit: The Charleston Post and Courier - Paul Zoeller/Staff
South Carolina's spring selling season has been a chilly one, according to the state's Realtors group. Columbia newspaper The State has the story (see: "Columbia, SC home sales slump into spring," by Roddie Burris). "Home sales in Columbia and throughout most of South Carolina continued to decline slightly in April," the paper reported. But the slow start statewide was not shared by coastal regions: "Coastal areas fared best in April, with Beaufort's sales increasing 32% to 129 and Charleston's sales climbing 9% to 1,125," the paper reported. Steven Mungo, CEO of top South Carolina builder Mungo Homes, put it this way: "We could sell as many houses as we wanted to in Charleston if we had adequate lot supply. There's probably a housing shortage in Charleston, if not now, coming very shortly."
Mungo says credit issues are slowing the housing market, especially at the lower end. And indeed, South Carolina's sales in first-quarter 2014 were mostly cash transactions, according to the Charleston Regional Business Journal (see: "All-cash residential property sales on the rise in S.C.," by Ashley Barker). "In South Carolina, roughly 52% of residential property sales were all-cash purchases during the first quarter," the paper reports. "That's up from 21.7% in the first quarter of 2013 and 49.2% during the fourth quarter of last year."
Population growth is a driving force in coastal South Carolina. The Charleston Post and Courier has a closer look here (see: "U.S. Census: Mount Pleasant ninth fastest-growing city in nation in 2013," by David Slade). The seaside suburb of Mount Pleasant has grown from 7,000 residents in 1970 to nearly 75,000 in mid-2013, the paper reported. The town added another 2,938 residents in 2013, according to a Census Bureau estimate.
"Mount Pleasant is not alone in seeing rapid population growth in the Lowcountry," the paper reports. "The Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Hilton Head metropolitan areas were the three fastest-growing on the Atlantic Coast, an earlier census report concluded, and as a result South Carolina ranked 11th among states for population growth in 2013."
To handle the influx of people, developers and builders near Charleston are gearing up for expansion. "Moncks Corner and Goose Creek have both seen double-digit population growth since 2010. Hanahan and Summerville aren't far behind," the paper reports. "And several enormous developments -- Nexton, Cane Bay, Carnes Crossroads -- are underway in unincorporated Berkeley County between Summerville and Moncks Corner." The Community Development & Land Management Group at MeadWestvaco Corp. is planning a 10,000-home development in Summerville, South Carolina, a few dozen miles inland from Charleston, the Post and Courier reports. Said company official Ken Seeger: "This is where it's going to happen."