November 23, 2020 (Source: Greenville Magaine/David Dykes/L. C. Leach III) Be it large or small commercial, industrial, office, retail, residential, or space devoted to tourism and greenery, the current real estate market in South Carolina is a boom looking for a place to erupt.
And during the inaugural SC Leadership Exchange webinar in November, real estate experts from Greenville, Charleston, and Columbia all said that once Coronavirus (Covid-19) has run its course, that eruption will happen almost anywhere in the state – from mountains to foothills to sand hills and coast.
“I would not want to be anywhere else in the country right now except South Carolina,” said David Lockwood, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Colliers International South Carolina. “In the next few years, South Carolina and the southeast are going to be the beneficiaries of a lot of great activity.”
Part of Lockwood’s optimism was illustrated with factors and data that influence real estate, as compiled by Colliers, including:
• Industrial Sector Occupancy. Comparing third-quarter 2020 to third-quarter 2019 throughout the state, occupancy rates in industrial sector space were up by an average of 1.3 percent in both Columbia and Charleston.
• Office Sector Occupancy. In further comparing third-quarter 2020 to third-quarter 2019, occupancy rates in office sector space was down by an average of only 1.75 percent in both Charleston and Greenville.
• Employment. In South Carolina’s four major economic areas of Columbia, Charleston, and the Upstate around both Greenville and Spartanburg counties, employment during Covid-19 has fallen by a state average of only 3 percent.
“The numbers do not reflect the total effects of the pandemic, which we will start to see by the fourth quarter of 2020,” Lockwood said.
• Education. Approximately 46 percent of Charleston’s workforce currently holds a bachelor’s, master’s, or associate’s degree – compared to Columbia with around 43 percent, and Greenville-Spartanburg with about 40 percent.
Lockwood said that factor gives the Charleston job market, and thus its real estate market, an edge over other parts of the state because of the “the higher level of education of people moving into that area.”
• Residential Real Estate. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, South Carolina is in the middle of a huge residential sellers’ market.
For example, the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors reports that from June to October 2020, residential homes and property in Greenville surpassed the 7,500-sales mark – compared to 6,564 units sold during the same time period in 2019.
Lockwood said going forward, he expects this trend to become even stronger.
“Residential drives commercial, and South Carolina is a hot state to move to,” Lockwood said. “We’re seeing people flock back to the suburbs, and a shift of people from high-dense apartments to smaller residential units…so they can be protected in this pandemic environment.”