What Pandemic? Low interest rates, high competition fuel Greenville's hot housing market

Dated: August 18 2020

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What Pandemic? Low interest rates, high competition fuel Greenville's hot housing market

Laurryn Thomas

Greenville News

Aug. 5, 2020

Low interest rates are fueling Greenville's housing market, despite an economic picture clouded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though home sales fell in April and May, June saw a 14% jump over last year, according to information from the Greenville Multiple Listing Service.. 

In this "seller's market", interest rates as low as 2.6% factor into the steady boom of the housing market even during a time of high unemployment and shut-downs. 

Greenville's unemployment rate was 8.4% in June, three points lower than the national average according to SC Department of Employment and Workforce. . 

"I thought people would be losing their jobs, which would mean our foreclosure market would go up, but that hasn't happened," said Greenville Realtor Jada Barnette.

Instead, Barnette said she has been working 12-hour days all summer to keep up with her clientsr. 

"In March, we had a slowdown," said Barnette. "But from April on, we've been right in line from what we did last year."

First-time home-buyer Connor O'Brien, 28, was tired of renting and continued with his plans to buy a home in July.

"I finally felt at a comfortable enough point in my life to start this next step," said O'Brien. "I factored in the pandemic when I started to look for houses. It affected viewing times and definitely the amount of people allowed to view houses." 

Keller Williams agent Deanna Arce said while buyers are seizing on low-interest loans, they face a two-month inventory shortage and a highly competitive environment as those trying to escape larger cities in the pandemic have found homes in more spread-out areas like South Carolina cities and suburbs. .

As a result, sellers are seeing offers above asking price, especially for homes under $200,000.

"Not a lot of buyers want to be in a bidding war," said Arce.

Meanwhile, others are borrowing not to buy, but to renovate.

"There's plenty of families out there that would love a bigger house because they're realizing, 'Hey we might need a little space; we've been here a long time together!'" Arce said.

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