HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) — A warm winter pushed people to move to Horry County sooner than home builders could keep up with the demand, according to experts.

David Schwerd, Horry County Planning and Zoning Leader, says there was a two-month period where developers and engineering firms were unsure of what the demand for housing was going to be like when the economy slowed down.

“A lot of people came down early, prior to COVID, and bought up at lot of the stock,” Schwerd says. “So what we found is a lot of our larger developers have started to run short on actual land that is ready to build homes on.”

According to Schwerd, the biggest delay for developers was trying to get the lots prepared for houses to be built on after demand started to increase in May. “I think by July,” Schwerd said, “I think the permit numbers were at least as high, if not higher than they were last year.”

Annie Williams, a realtor in Horry County, says another speed bump for builders is that supplies are coming in much slower due to the pandemic.

The graph below shows the difference in housing inventory between 2019 and 2020 from January to September. The decrease in supply is about 30 percent from this point last year.

“Things are coming in slower,” says Williams. “Prices have increased across the board, there’s an appliance issue. In order to get occupancy in a new build, you have to have certain things and if you can’t get a stove because the manufacturers aren’t making them fast enough, then you can’t sell the home.”

Ford Duncan, real estate advisor and operations manager for Duncan Group Properties, says a lack of sellers is another reason for the housing shortage.

“In a market where [you] have a lot of sellers or at least an equal amount of sellers and buyers, you have a stable inventory level,” Duncan said. “And right now, we just have way more buyers than we do sellers.”

The decrease in the housing supply coupled with an increase in demand for homes means that the prices of homes increase as well.

“To something as small and simple as a can of soda to something as large as an investment in a
home,” Duncan said, “when you have a lack of inventory that accounts for an increase in value.”

The graph below shows the difference in the average home price between 2019 and 2020 from January to September.

Information gathered from the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors monthly market indicators.