Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably noticed and driven by the hordes of new homes popping up block after block on available land throughout Horry and Georgetown counties.
Construction sites have become the norm, so we thought we’d set our sights on the foundational reasons underlying this housing boom. Plus, we’ve scaled the rooftops to see what lies ahead on the horizon, via some local experts’ opinions on the future of this new construction trend.
Myrtle Beach has come a long way, fast, from the real estate crash in 2008 to recently being named the second fastest-growing metro areas in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Low interest rates, combined with a stronger, improved economy, have propelled thousands of homebuyers here steadily since 2013, says Rob Clemons, general manager of Monarch Solar Energy and former president of the Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association.
And, with increased demand, comes an increased home price. But that doesn’t dare deter the homebuilding and buying industry.
“Home inventory numbers have dropped to three to four months from a previous stockpile for up to 250 months,” says Clemons. “Demand is high, but supply is low. And that means price increases.”
A June study of the Myrtle Beach area, he says, reported that the median house price is $180,000, versus $170,000 last June. Despite that, new construction permits in Horry County this year total 345; in June 2016, the total was 275.
“And that’s good to see!” says Clemons.
Life is Beachin’ Here
The writing is on the wall of each three-bedroom house being built in Myrtle Beach: just like those of us who moved here, people want to live near the beach – and ours specifically – because the summers are practically year-round.
“Myrtle Beach is one of the best rated beach destinations in the country,” says Duke Melton, director of sales and marketing at Dock Street Communities, “plus it’s affordable and a convenient flight from New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia.”
Melton, who started in real estate in 2003, has seen the highs and the lows of this housing industry, adding that the “first boom” was too easy, but this spike is stronger and steadier. His latest development project at Dock Street Communities in The Market Common features the Charleston-style architecture, charm and lifestyle, without the price tag.
“Folks are finding that this location at The Market Common offers the best of both worlds – the beach and the metro feel,” he says, “so we offer more than 100 home layouts.”
Where are the surplus of these homebuyers moving from? Most reports point in the general direction of the Northeast and Midwest, where they’ve been slowly losing residents over the last 30 to 40 years – especially from metro areas like Chicago and Detroit. Retiring Baby Boomers want to migrate to warmer latitudes (where locals have warmer attitudes) because, let’s face it, the payoff in quality of life needs to be worth the move across several states and after so many years of collecting stuff in said house.
The low cost of living here in the Myrtle Beach area is almost too good to be true – but it is good, and it is true. Property taxes alone for homeowners can be less than $1,000 per year, compared to an upwards of $20,000 in other states. That’s a cost savings worth writing home about.
“A lot of the folks that move to Dock Street Communities have been dreaming of Charleston lifestyle, but cannot afford it,” says Melton. “They’re finding the answer is here, where we’re giving the color shades and the architecture and the quaint metro feel of Market Common.”
What’s in the Crystal Ball for the Boom?
So is there any end in sight for the new home construction sites taking over the Myrtle Beach landscape? The housing boom seems to continue to hold ground, but Clemons brings up two concerns to consider – not only here, but within the homebuilding industry nationwide:
- Low availability of labor. The amount of construction workers available for the growing amount of construction project is becoming increasingly limited. That, and the median age of a worker nowadays is in the mid-40s, so there is a need to spark an interest in teens and recent grads in the field.
- Low availability of land. Lot after lot are being bought up, which will eventually cause new construction to dry up.
We don’t want to wrap thing up on gloom and doom. Collectively, new construction and residential real estate overall has become a lucrative business here in the Myrtle Beach area, and will continue thrive because of the one glorious constant in our backyard: the beach.