A Changing Landscape

May 26, 2023

Written by Hilton Head Area Realtors

Throughout the decades there have been many changes in the local housing market in the Lowcountry – with the past few years presenting both opportunities and challenges for home buyers and sellers.  As the longtime voice of real estate in the region, Hilton Head Area REALTORS® has been part of the local real estate story here for half a century – seeing firsthand how the housing market has changed through the years, while making an impact on local real estate by serving as a resource for both local Realtors and the community.  

June is National Homeownership Month, a time to recognize the importance of owning a home, and a time when Realtors recommit to the opportunity to help others join the 65% of Americans owning homes.  As HHAR marks its 50th year, it’s also the perfect time to look back at some of the changes and trends in our local housing market through the decades, and the state of local real estate both now and in years to come.

“People come to the Lowcountry for the lifestyle, and our region has grown exponentially in the last 50 years,” said Jean Beck, CEO of HHAR, which has grown to 1,600 Realtors and affiliate partners. “When Hilton Head Area Realtors began, most sales were on Hilton Head Island. Now our members service buyers and sellers from HHI to Jasper County, helping consumers throughout the region navigate the complex housing market and make informed decisions.”  

According to HHAR’s Realtors, one of the biggest trends in the Lowcountry over the past 10-15 years centers on buyers of second home properties who are now interested in using their property as a vacation rental.  The use of smart home devices such as thermostats, security systems and lighting provide absentee homeowners with an advantage not previously had.

Another trend is the size of homes and what are considered essential features.  

While one-car garage homes were the standard years ago, that standard moved to two-car garages and now three-plus car garages are the luxury feature – with the same holding true for bedrooms and bathrooms.

Other trends through the years include buyers seeking homes with accessibility inside of the home and homes where multi-generational families can live in the same house. With COVID changing people’s lifestyles, buyers today are looking for homes that can cater to outdoor living, open spaces and home offices.

Indications are that the current market is stabilizing. However, both home buyers and sellers continue to face challenges in 2023, including higher interest rates, higher homeowners’ insurance rates, and affordability of homes – especially for first-time homebuyers. The main challenge, though, continues to be low inventory.

“While the inventory of property for sale remains low, buyers need to be fully prepared to make an offer when they identify a house that interests them,” said Kathy Schroder, president of the HHAR’s Board of Directors, noting that local inventory has grown a bit this year, from 1.1 month of inventory last year to a 2-month inventory so far in 2023.   “Coming off the frenzy of the real estate market in 2020 and 2021, we now see properties staying on the market longer, which is something that sellers need to recognize today.”  

When it comes to multiple offers, although the days of 20 offers on a home may no longer be the case, it’s not uncommon for homes today to still receive multiple offers (especially properties that are updated and move-in ready). Schroder noted that for many homeowners, now is a great opportunity to sell and use the equity that is sitting in their home.  

HHAR has been there as a vital resource in the community —providing education, support and advocacy to empower both real estate professionals and the community. The organization’s growing advocacy work is playing an increasingly instrumental role in the region.  

“As we look back on the past 50 years, we’re excited to continue empowering our region’s real estate professionals and the community in the decades ahead as together we navigate our growing, and ever-changing, local housing market,” said Beck.

For more information, visit www.hhrealtor.com.