Augusta-area housing inventory shrinking

There were 2,523 homes for sale in the metro Augusta area by the end of March, according to latest figures. DAMON CLINE/STAFF

The forces driving down the housing supply in major markets nationwide are also being felt in metro Augusta, where the number of homes on the market has fallen by more than a quarter during the past five years.

 

At the end of March, there were 2,523 active home listings in the Augusta area, 27 percent fewer homes than the same period in 2013, when there were 3,345 homes on the market.

The March data – the latest figures available from the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors– shows the local housing inventory is 14 percent lower than it was during the same period last year, when there were 2,932 homes for sale.

Association President Andrea Bowles of Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate attributed much of the inventory shrinkage to increased development costs, which has reduced the rate of new home construction in recent years.

Based on data gathered by the association, the cost of developing new home lots in the Augusta area increased 40 percent between 2011 to 2017.

“If you can find the land to develop and afford to develop it at market value, then you’ve got the cost of building materials and labor,” said Bowles, noting that lot sales declined 38 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The increased costs have boosted average per-square-foot home prices in the area from $70 in 2013 to $87 this year.

The Greater Augusta Association maintains listings for Richmond and Columbia counties on the Georgia side of the market and the western side of Aiken County on the South Carolina side.

Though new homes as a percentage of all sales has gone up slightly – from 18 percent of the market in March 2013 to 23 percent of the market this year – Bowles said there’s been a “huge shift” in what the inventory looked like during the housing boom, when new homes accounted for 45 percent of all sales in March 2007.

Based on current figures, the average sales price in metro Augusta is $155,000. During the past 12 months, Bowles said, more than half of sales in Richmond County were $100,000 and less; in Columbia County, more than half of sales were $200,000 and over.

“That shows where the real sweet spots are for buyers,” she said.

The second and third quarters are usually the most active in the Augusta area, as homeowners usually list their homes after Masters Week in anticipation of a sale after the end of the school year.

Although the number of homes to choose from aren’t as plentiful as they have been in the past, there hasn’t been a negative impact on sales. Total sales in March were 27 percent higher than they were five years ago and the average length of time on market has decreased 11 percent during the same period, from 157 days to 140 days.

“We have a very healthy, stable market,” Bowles said. “We are fortunate we have a very strong economy, so there are a lot of buyers.”

 

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

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