Maison Real Estate had its best year in company history last year with $188,420,494 in completed sales — and 2022 is already looking set to be even better, despite fewer homes coming to the Charleston County market.
The stock of single-family homes in the region fell by 53.2% from 741 in February 2021 to 347 in 2022, the company said. Area 51, the area south of Crosstown in downtown Charleston, is down 76.6% year over year.
But for the three co-founders of Maison Real Estate, even bigger challenge is that homes are being bought faster than ever, with an average of 25 days on the market between January and mid-March. The timeframe is half the then-surprising 50-day moving average around this time last year.
“We’re seeing more full-time shoppers coming to Charleston than ever, full-time residents with kids moving downtown,” said co-founder Mary Lou Wertz.
Families are primarily heading out of New England, Chicago and Ohio, as are drive-to markets like Atlanta and Charlotte, said co-founder Leslie Turner. While vacation home purchases have leveled off, homes with outdoor living areas and friendly work environments remain consistent priorities for all buyers.
“We didn’t really lock down that much during COVID and our schools stayed open,” Turner said. “COVID has fundamentally changed the way people want to work and live, so they are choosing to live the Charleston lifestyle.”
Olga Page works with a family co-founder who was so eager to move from Massachusetts to Charleston that clients first enrolled their four children in school and then looked for homes.
Daniel Island and Sullivan’s Island are full of people looking for idyllic waterfront homes, the founders said, but downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant are also hotspots for shoppers.
Homebuyers are also snapping up properties next door for use as home offices, guest accommodations or rental properties as the market continues to warm.
The problem now appears to be more of a demand problem than a supply problem, Turner said. While there are homes for sale, they are going fast as buyers continue to flock to the area every day.
When Turner made an offer, Turner said cash is still king and selling fully furnished homes is a quick fix to enjoy a home sooner and avoid today’s supply chain hassles. The latter trend is increasing especially in the luxury market, where the furnishings have already been chosen by interior designers and adapted to the size and size of the apartments.
“I just got an offer at 4 Battery Place that’s under contract and will be sold fully furnished, right down to the pots and pans,” Turner said.
When it comes to rental homes, it’s not uncommon for buyers to want to buy a fully furnished home so they can start earning rentals right away, but buying a fully furnished primary residence is new to the pandemic.
“This is attractive to buyers due to the current supply shortages and shipping delays as it will provide them with furniture immediately when waiting for their long-term pieces, save on moving costs and is ideal for those buying a holiday home or investment property. ‘ Turner said.
Buyers can then bring a suitcase and a toothbrush and enjoy their new home straight away.
For sellers, cash continues to win as buyers are still paying well above asking price to beat the competition, Turner said. She’s currently working with two first-time home buyers on a healthy budget who can’t take a break even when they’ve taken all the right steps.
“We offered a house in West Ashley. It was listed at $550,000 and we went up $100,000 and my clients lost it because they had some offers over $700,000,” she said. “That’s a house bid 30% over the list.”
Another James Island home received 24 offers in one day.
According to Page, part of the problem is that current homeowners aren’t interested in selling because they have nowhere to go. Any profits they make from selling the property are being lost or are currently being reinvested in a new purchase, with home sales up 28.4% year-over-year and the median price being $495,000, according to Redfin.
“Unless we can accept all buyers, the market will not level off anytime soon,” said Turner. “And it’s going to take a while to absorb all of those buyers.”
Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.