Home buyers held back in October in Columbia and throughout South Carolina despite an economic outlook that is seeing some bright spots.
Home sales sank 41 percent in the Midlands and 26 percent statewide in the absence of a federal tax credit that was set to expire at this time last year, according to a new report from the S.C. Realtors trade group. Buyers rushed last fall to snap up homes before Congress extended the $8,000 credit for first-time buyers.
"The stimulus money just brought in thousands of sales for us in Columbia," longtime Columbia real estate agent Jay Graham said.
Still, compared to two years ago -- before the tax credit rush -- sales declined 29 percent in the Columbia area.
"That’s not a good sign," Graham said.
Sales suffered a setback statewide, too, in October compared to a year earlier, declining in all 15 markets in South Carolina tracked by S.C. Realtors. Even the coast, which has been a bright spot in the state most of the year as investors snapped up heavily discounted homes, saw sharp declines last month.
Hilton Head-area sales sank 30 percent, with a 21 percent decline in Charleston and 17 percent in the Myrtle Beach area.
In the Upstate, sales dropped 40 percent in the Pidemont area and 19 percent in Greenville.