FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Housing demand in the Pee Dee has remained steady in 2022 compared with 2021, according to data from the Pee Dee Realtor Association.

The group counted 2,436 homes sold through November in the region. That number is down less than 1% compared with the same time in 2021.

“Florence is growing,” Pee Dee Realtor Association President Charles Munn said. “We’re sitting on two major interstates, and I feel like that’s a big plus. There’s a lot of new industry coming to our area, and that’s going to drive the housing market. I feel like we’re going to be stable for a while.”

The average home sales price in the Pee Dee so far in 2022 is up to $225,000, which is 10% higher than in 2021. Homes are also spending an average of 11 fewer days on the market this year.

“There’s a lot of buyers out there,” Munn said. “In my opinion, there’s a shortage of houses so the demand for houses is still strong.”

The ‘strong’ housing market in the Pee Dee is despite interest rates that are more than double what they were at the beginning of the year. Munn said people are settling to pay more for less home.

“That’s the biggest thing that I see because it just cuts out your buying power,” Munn said.

There’s also a small number of apartment vacancies. A search on Rent.com in Florence for one-bedroom apartments yielded just nine results. Three of those nine were outside city limits.

The city of Florence is working on “Project Urban Square” to help address the shortage. It’s a 151-unit apartment complex downtown with a parking deck, a hotel and 30,000 square feet of office space.

“It’s very exciting,” Assistant City Manager Clint Moore said. “I think it puts us on the right first step toward re-envisioning the expansion of our downtown.”

The project has been in the works since 2018. The city closed on the land around Coit and Evans Streets in 2020, but the project was delayed by the pandemic.

The entire project’s estimated cost is $65 million. The city plans to pitch in around $11 million.

“With this new development, you’ll see the same new reaction we’ve seen to other residential units downtown,” Moore said. “Large waiting lists and folks looking to move into our downtown.”

The new complex is phase one toward the city’s goal of 1,000 new rental units in the next decade. Construction grading work on “Project Urban Square” is expected to start at the beginning of 2023.