Summer home sales reach highest point in eight years

Amy and Corey Nolan, with their son Patrick, moved from Maryland to Grovetown so Corey could begin his job in cyber operations at Fort Gordon.



It’s been about a month since the Nolans moved into their new Grovetown residence, but the family of four is already feeling at home.

Corey and Amy Nolan and their two young children relocated this summer from Maryland so Corey Nolan could begin a new job in cyber operations at Fort Gordon.

Amy Nolan said she had two criteria when it came to selecting a home: The neighborhood had to offer plenty of activities for her children and her husband’s commute to the base had to be short.

The couple found those in a three-bedroom, 2½-bath house in the Tudor Branch subdivision, paying $182,000 for the property.

The Nolans contributed to the busiest summer season for the local residential real estate market since 2006, a year before the housing bubble began to burst and ripple across the nation.

Recent data from the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors reported that the number of home sales rebounded to 2,360 between the months of May and August. In the summer of 2006, 2,599 homes sold in metro Augusta.

This year’s summer numbers are 7.6 percent above those in 2013 and 37.6 percent higher than in 2009 during the Great Recession.

Summer sales in 2014 came in as the third highest during the past decade.

Interest rates have stayed historically low. From May to August, rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage never exceeded 4.43 percent and hit a year low in August at 4.06 percent, according to data.

“I think people are a little more confident now than they were even a year ago,” said Maria Vaill, an agent with Keller Williams Realty. “They’re a little more confident that they’re going to have their job in two years, or that what they’re buying isn’t going to lose 10 percent of its value in the next six months.”

Vaill said she’s seen not only an increase in sales this summer, but also a pick-up in multiple offers as well as homes spending less time on the market.

Vaill attributed some of that activity to out-of-town buyers moving to the area for jobs at Plant Vogtle and Fort Gordon. She’s also noticed buyers in the 23-35 age bracket are more prepared, having lined up down payments, better credit and job security.

Vaill, who still considers the market hot for buyers, said that while home values have started to increase in the past year or two, sellers are beginning to understand what their property is worth in today’s economic climate.

“Sellers are finally coming to grips with the fact that their properties aren’t worth what they were in 2007,” she said.

“You’ve got sellers that are becoming a little bit more willing to part with their properties since the values have gone up. They’re also doing the upgrades that they need to a little more willingly than what they were a few years ago.”

Greater Augusta Asso-ciation of Realtors President Teresa Tiller said the summer months proved steady, with multiple offers coming in for properties priced under $175,000 that had previously sat idle. New home construction fared better than resales, she said.

“It actually surpassed my expectations, especially with the intense heat this year,” said Tiller, an agent with Re/Max Partners.

For Meybohm agent Ann Marie McManus, home sales this summer increased by about 20 percent from last summer.

Looking at her overall market, much of it located in Columbia, Richmond and Aiken counties, McManus said sales jumped by about 16 percent during that same time frame.

“I think there was some pent-up demand,” she said.

McManus, like other Realtors in the area, said the housing demand will spike as more people transfer into the area for work affiliated with the Cyber Command. Many local homeowners are choosing to act now before values rise as a result of the influx, she said.

“We have our in-town buyers that realize our houses are still so affordable, and they realize the prices will increase when all the folks come for the Cyber Command,” McManus said. “I think people, in anticipation, realize if they’re going to get their big house, this is a good time to do it. I think they realize that it’s not going to be like that, say five years out.”



2014 2,360

2013 2,193

2012 1,990

2011 1,855

2010 1,823

2009 1,715

2008 1,771

2007 2,277

2006 2,599

2005 2,523

2004 2,215

Source: Greater Augusta Association of Realtors