Mark and Shannon Golightly bought their home in the WedgeWood neighborhood of Rock Hill in 2002.
Over the years they added their personal touches to the two-story brick home – a sun room, a patio, even a tree house, a gift for one of their sons.
But now it’s time to move. The Golightly family wants more space, especially a quiet office for Mark, who works from home for Briggs and Stratton, and a larger kitchen.
Like many buyers, they have done their homework online, looking at about 25 houses. They knew the neighborhoods they wanted – they want to move about 1.5 miles from their current home. They want to make the move at the end of the school year, avoiding a disruption with their children’s education.
They describe themselves as confident buyers and sellers but admit the process would have been more difficult had they not found what they believe is the right house after just four home tours.
Finding the right home – and acting quickly – are key in the regional real estate market as the inventory of homes for sale in Rock Hill is about three months, according to data from the Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors and the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.
The inventory of homes refers to how many months it would take to sell all of the homes currently listed in a market. Most real estate agents say a four- to five-month supply is average.
Elsewhere, Lancaster’s housing inventory has remained stable at about four months. Fort Mill’s housing inventory has been about two months since the beginning of the year.
Rock Hill Realtor Stephen Cooley said the official numbers may not tell the full story. He estimates inventory at 60 days to 80 days depending on location. The low inventory can make it difficult to show buyers the number of homes they want to see before making a decision, he said.
“If you don’t have enough supply, buyers get frustrated that they can’t find the right home,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.
Another aspect of the market is seller confidence. Some would-be sellers are holding on to their homes, hoping to regain the value they lost when the recession hit in 2008.
Data, however, shows that home prices in York County, Rock Hill and Fort Mill have recovered that value.
The median sale price for homes sold in Fort Mill in April was $264,000 – 15 percent higher than the 2008 median price of $228,000
In Rock Hill, the median price showed a slight gain – from $156,000 in 2008 to $160,000 in April, according to data from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association, which includes agents who sell in York and Lancaster counties.
For York County overall, the median sales price was $205,000 in April, 8 percent better than 2008, when it was $188,639.
Nonetheless, some would-be sellers are holding on to their homes, hoping for a better return, said real estate experts.
“Lack of seller interest is a problem,” said Bill Harrison of the University of South Carolina Real Estate Center.
Maren Brisson-Kuester, president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association, said seller confidence is increasing, but it has been a slow climb. There are some reluctant sellers, not because of the price they could receive, but “what will I find?”
The result is a sellers’ market. Cooley said he had a home priced at $189,000 that received 11 offers in 48 hours. One house listed at $100,000 – a price point that includes mostly older homes rather than new construction – had seven offers in 48 hours, Cooley said.
Brisson-Kuester said sellers are now getting offers at full price or even more than what they listed their houses for.
Buyers, she said, “have less time to think. If it fits you, jump on it,” she said.
The imbalance between prices and inventory could be a challenge for future affordability, Brisson-Kuester said.
Several factors could affect the long-term health of the regional real estate market, real estate observers said. They include the number of millennials – people ages 18 to 35 – buying homes and investors such as hedge funds buying homes.
Millennials are not buying homes at the pace of previous generations. The first-time buyers “drive the real estate chain,” said Harrison of USC. “That’s part of the bottleneck in real estate now.”
Cooley said the number of investor sales is declining regionally.
Mitigating those factors is strong growth in both the population and jobs, said Gus Faucher, a senior vice president and senior macro-economist at The PNC Financial Services Group.
New construction will also help change the inventory, but it will be about a year before the markets see a change, said Faucher and Harrison. Nonetheless, developers’ for-sale signs line roadways on weekends in Indian Land, Fort Mill and even parts of Rock Hill.
Other market indicators show the spring selling season – the busiest time of the year for real estate agents – should be robust in 2015 with prices rising and days on the market falling.
From May 2014 through April 2015, sales in the Piedmont region were up 5.9 percent.
Sales of homes in the $150,001 to $200,000 price range increased the most, with 15.9 percent more homes sold.
Homes in the $200,001 to $300,000 price range on average sold the quickest at 115 days. Homes valued at more than $300,000 sold the slowest at an average of 157 days, according to the Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors.
“The market is alive,” said Rock Hill Realtor Pam Morrell.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066
Local markets performance
Here’s a look at housing sales information in York, Chester and Lancaster counties. The data, from the Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors, compares information from January through April 2014 to the same months in 2015.
Piedmont Region (York, Chester and Lancaster counties)
Median sales price: $132,500 (in 2014) to $146,000 (in 2015), up 10.2 percent
Days on the market: 143 to 138, down 3.5 percent
Percentage of list price received by sellers: 95.5 percent to 95.7 percent
Median sales price: $136,649 to $134,900, down 1.3 percent
Days on the market: 171 to 132, down 22.7 percent
Percent of list price received: 96.6 percent to 98.9 percent
Median sales price: $195,150 to $231,450, up 18.6 percent
Days on the market: 130 to 127, down 2.3 percent
Percent of asking price received: 97.8 percent to 97.4 percent
Median sales price: $201,750 to $215,000, up 6.6 percent
Days on the market: 117 to 110, down 5.9 percent
Percent of list price received: 96.2 percent to 97.7 percent
Median sales price: $105,000 to $99,000, down 5.7 percent
Days on the market: 152 to 172, up 13.2 percent
Percent of list price received: 85 percent to 91.4 percent
Median sales price: $132,000 to $143,000, up 8.3 percent
Days on the market: 139 to 128, down 7.9 percent
Percent of list price received: 95.5 percent to 96.7 percent
Median sales price: $292,500 to $294,500, up .7 percent
Days on the market: 133 to 99, down 25.5 percent
Percent of list price received: 97 percent to 97.7 percent
Median sales price: $120,000 to $151,950, up 26.6 percent
Days on the market: 149 to 152, up 2 percent
Percent of list price received: 96.6 percent, unchanged