Fort Mill Times

Allen Tate CEO: Real estate market in York County is ‘nice and steady’

The real estate market in Fort Mill is “nice and steady,” according to Pat Riley, president and chief operating officer of Allen Tate Realtors.

Riley spoke to the Fort Mill Rotary Club today, glossing over the reasons why the housing market nationwide has plummeted and instead focusing on the future of the housing market both locally and nationwide.

Projections show the housing market won’t hit bottom and begin to rebound until November 2010, he said, but Riley believes York County may already be seeing signs of improvement.

“[York County’s] wheels are off the ground. You’ll be able to tuck your wheels in soon, and you’re going to fair much better,” Riley said. “For you, you’re already starting in the recovery.”

The recent holiday weekend did give some local Realtors hope that improvements in the housing market are under way.

“I’ve seen some activity in the market that I haven’t seen in a while,” confirmed Judy Hawkins, owner and broker-in-charge at Century 21-Hawkins Realty, who has worked in the Fort Mill area for more than 30 years. “And people are being more realistic in their pricing.”

In particular, Hawkins has seen a jump in the number of new home buyers, she said, thanks to low interest rates and an $8,000 federal tax credit offered to first-time home buyers.

And where Fort Mill has historically had a small affordable housing market, first-time buyers are now finding more homes for sale here in lower price ranges, Hawkins said, especially now that sellers are pricing their homes realistically for the market.

Hawkins also offered another reason that first-time home buyers seem to be buying more readily than others.

“It seems like they aren’t as afraid of being laid off,” Hawkins said.

Andy Bovender, a Realtor for Allen Tate who is opening a team office in Baxter Village, also said he has seen more traffic in his office over the past week than he has in 12 months.

Most buyers are looking for homes less than $300,000, he added.

Homes priced between $100,000 and $300,000 are in what Riley calls “the sweet spot,” a range where homes are now being bought and sold most frequently, while buyers looking at homes more than $450,000 are having trouble finding financing.

But for most buyers, Riley said, financing isn’t an issue.

“Yes, we have money to lend,” Riley said. “There is a misnomer. If you have a job and you have credit, the money is there except maybe on the [$450,000 and up] side.”

Other good news for the York County area is the number of days most homes are sitting on the market. In York County, that number is lower than in any other area Allen Tate serves, Riley said.