Rising home sales may be leading economic recovery

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Home sales in the Myrtle Beach area increased by 48 percent in the first quarter of 2010, and rose 45 percent between April 2009 and April 2010, according to a report by the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors.

Jim and Lynn McMillan of Myrtle Beach are responsible for one of the new home sales. They made a move from one part of the Grand Strand to another in late March because they realized they could get more house for less money.

"We started looking for another home because places were good [in price]," Lynn McMillan said. "It's a really good time to buy now."

The McMillan's realtor, Marylyn Smith, said the couple picked a great time to buy. She has noticed many other people doing the same thing.

"If you took a look at this year versus last year, you'll see some trending upwards," Smith said. "I've had a very very busy spring."

Real Estate researcher Tom Maeser credits low prices for helping sell more homes. He says the high foreclosure rate and short sale rate in the Myrtle Beach area has pushed prices down. Maeser says those foreclosures are now being used as a base of comparison, so sellers are dropping their prices to compete.

The low prices have attracted investors who are keeping the market going though, and Smith says she sees that too. Half of her buyers this year have been investors.

"What's pretty neat about it is they're investors who are still coming from other areas into our market," Smith said. "So that's great."

According to Maeser, in just the last month, prices have stabilized. While prices are still low - much lower that a few years ago - they have risen in the last year. That is a good sign for the overall economy.

"Typically real estate will lead you into a recession, but it will also be leading you out of a recession," Maeser said.

Maeser believes the Myrtle Beach area will come of recession more quickly than most places because there is a built up demand for homes from people who want to buy homes and move to the area.

Maeser says a key to the recovery will be reducing the number of foreclosures and short sales on the market, and getting banks lend more readily to potential home buyers.

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