Home-building recovery taking hold in Columbia S.C. area

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 15, 2013


Goodbye, Great Recession.
Hello, housing recovery.
After years of stagnation, Midlands builders are gearing up to finish neighborhoods that sat half-full for five years as the Great Recession and its aftereffects raged. They also are building new neighborhoods in hot spots throughout the region.
But home buyers will benefit from a “super-competitive environment” among builders that promises to heat up in Columbia in 2013.
“There’s only one thing that matters to the new home buyer today, and that’s price,” said Wade McGuinn, owner of McGuinn Homes in Lexington. “But once they settle on the price, they want everything. … It’s whoever can give it to you.”
Builders are planning to give buyers whatever they want this year – from central vacuums in $150,000 houses to a pick-your-own amenities list – as they build on their success in 2012 and the Columbia real estate market starts to bounce back.
From small, family-owned operations like McGuinn Homes to large national companies like D.R. Horton, builders are bullish on the Midlands market this year.
“They feel good about the Columbia market going forward,” said Earl McLeod, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia. “We would certainly agree. We feel better about it than we have in the past few years.”
And home buyers can expect the stiff competition to make sales to bring them better deals and more extras in a market where they already are in the driver’s seat.
“They’re going to shop ’til they drop to make sure they get the best $141,000 they can get” if that’s their price point, McGuinn said. “A luxury buyer now wants a value, and a value buyer wants a better value.”
‘Goal is to be … No. 1’
D.R. Horton is one of the builders expanding in the Midlands, buying hundreds of lots in the Columbia market.
From Cobblestone Park in Blythewood to Eagle’s Rest in Chapin, the builder is entering at least a half-dozen neighborhoods with prices ranging from $150,000 to $500,000 and above.
“As we see a good value, we purchase (lots),” said Doug Brown, president for the company’s Charlotte-Columbia division. “We think it’s a good market.”
The national builder took out permits to build 93 homes in the Columbia market in 2012, according to a permit report from the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia. That ranked it seventh in local market share.
“Our goal is to be the No. 1 builder in the Columbia market,” Brown said. “We do want to be the best-value and the best-quality home builder in the Columbia market.”
Horton faces stiff competition, from a range of other builders boosting their construction. Permits for new homes in the Midlands rose 25 percent last year from 2011, one of the worst years on record for real estate in Columbia.
Mungo Homes, currently the top builder in the market, took out 518 permits for new homes last year, up from 281 in 2011 – an 84 percent increase.
McGuinn Homes, fifth in market share, took out 186 permits, a 75 percent increase over 2011. Wade McGuinn says he plans to grow his company by at least another 25 percent this year with development spreading from his stronghold in Lexington to Southeast Columbia, Kershaw County, Northeast Richland and the Dutch Fork area.
And Fortress Builders, started in 2010 by Bill Sinnett and Tim Kearn, took out 92 permits in 2012 – a 119 percent increase over 2011.
“We’re getting pretty aggressive,” said Sinnett, who expects to grow another 40 percent this year.
Once idle, now busy
Sinnett cited Hunter’s Run in Blythewood, where several companies are building homes, as an indication of the upswing in new construction.
The neighborhood – where prices range from the $190,000s to the $280,000s – had been sitting idle for close to seven years, he said.
“We were one of the first builders in there” in 2012, Sinnett said. “And we’ve done really well.”
Fortress also is building in Chapin and Lexington, and will build a new neighborhood of its own on Langford Road in Blythewood this year with more than 100 lots and prices ranging from the $170,000s to the $250,000s.
Being tenacious and coming up with innovative products are the ways to be competitive in the marketplace, Sinnett said.
All of Fortress’ homes come with central vacuums, a feature previously reserved for $300,000-plus homes, Sinnett said. “We’re putting it in a $150,000 house.”
Buyers also now are getting premium features, such as hardwood floors and crown molding, in lower-priced homes, he said.
Coupled with interest rates that have been historically low for at least a year, “the best time to buy a house is now because it’s not going to get much better,” Sinnett said.
‘Mom and pop … just gone’
A recovery in the housing market would be a big boost to the local economy. Home building is labor intensive. But home building creates jobs in other areas as well — from lending to attorneys’ fees to furniture and appliance sales.
Builders, however, will face challenges in the years ahead – from tighter lending rules for lot development to the slowly growing economy – that could end up narrowing options for home buyers.
“We are, technically, out of lots in Columbia,” McGuinn said. “It creates a whole other layer of financial difficulty. There are not going to be people out there building lots for builders” like there were in the boom days of the local housing market from 2004 through 2007.
The scarcity of new subdivisions means small builders – many of whom already have exited the market – will have to have their own funding to build lots because lenders still see real estate development as too much of a risk, McGuinn said.
“The barrier to being in our business has gotten so high,” he said. “Every day, (it) gets higher.”
Large banks, for example, will not lend less than $10 million to builders and even regional banks set the minimum at $4 million, McGuinn said. That refusal to make smaller loans will push out smaller builders, who lack their own financing, he said.
“The mom-and-pop operation is just gone,” he said.
‘Not a boom’
In 2006, the Top 12 builders in the Midlands all took out more than 100 permits each. In 2012, only the Top Six builders did.
The struggling economy also will be a factor in the recovery, McLeod said.
While the jobless rate in South Carolina has been declining steadily in recent months, it still is an elevated 8.3 percent and many still are struggling to find work. Still, the rate is down significantly from its peak of 12 percent in late 2009. And as more people have found work, they have jumped on ultra-low interest rate and good deals on homes.
Sales for all homes in the Columbia area rose to 6,990 through the first 11 months of 2012, up 18 percent compared to the same period in 2011, according to the S.C. Realtors trade group.
But some are still hesitant as the national economy wobbles unsteadily.
“We thought the looming fiscal cliff would be resolved, and it’s only, in many ways, been delayed so that still is a big question mark going forward in terms of the housing recovery,” McLeod said.
While Congress and the White House reached an agreement to avoid tax increases that would have kicked in at the beginning of the year, they delayed decisions on massive spending cuts.
“Put that aside … and the conditions are in place for a continued recovery, not a boom-type environment but certainly a steady increase,” McLeod said.

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Mortgage Rates: Improved Housing Markets Grow While Mortgage Rates Remain Low

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 8, 2013

The number of improved housing markets continues to grow while, at the same time, mortgage rates remain low. According to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), the number of metropolitan areas rose for the fifth straight month in January. The IMI rose from 201 markets in December to 242 in January. The IMI is a record of metro areas where there has been improvement in housing permits, employment and home prices for a period of at least six consecutive months. For those interested in purchasing homes, this is also a positive sign of improving economic factors that in different areas across the entire country.

Current 30 year fixed mortgage interest rates are as low as 3.125%, 15 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 2.375% and 5/1 ARM loan rates are as low as 2.375%. When looking for low mortgage rates, it is important that borrowers have a record of good credit. Lenders will also require documents to prove employment, income and assets. Assets are necessary as evidence of enough funds for the closing, as well as, reserves required for loan approval. At any time during the loan process, borrowers may be requested to submit additional information in order to clarify something found upon examination. These are normal procedures when purchasing a home or refinancing with conventional loans. The HARP program, a temporary non-traditional refinance, does not require as much information or an appraisal in most cases. HARP mortgages are available for underwater borrowers who have loans that were sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. The updated HARP program, called HARP 2.0, has eliminated loan to value caps so that all underwater homeowners could have a chance at refinancing to low mortgage rates or shorter term loans. HARP can be obtained through any lender making it easier for homeowners to find one that will work with them. Submitting the online form can make this process simple and will return a response almost instantly. Through this submission, borrowers can obtain information about any type of mortgage or refinance, including HARP refis.

Today’s FHA 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 3.000%, FHA 15 year fixed mortgage interest rates are as low as 2.750% and FHA 5/1 loan rates are as low as 2.500%. Home buyers often use FHA loans because they offer one of the lowest down payments available in the mortgage industry. The credit guidelines for FHA are also flexible so that even borrowers who do not have perfect credit can become homeowners. FHA also offers several types of mortgages, the use of gift funds and housing grants or loans, all of which can make the mortgage process more affordable. While FHA closing costs (APR) are high due to the upfront mortgage insurance premium and other FHA fees, FHA does allow seller concessions up to 6% to be used for this purpose. In some cases and according to FHA guidelines, closing costs can often be added to the mortgage amount. After having the FHA for a period of time, FHA offers the FHA streamline refinance with no cash out. This streamline program does not require an appraisal, a credit history or other documentation, although lender overlays may vary. Until the end of 2013, homeowners who have loans that were FHA endorsed prior to June 1, 2009 can use the FHA streamline to refinance and will receive drastically reduced fees for the upfront and annual mortgage premiums. All FHA loans, including the FHA streamline refinance, can be obtained by any FHA approved lender.

New home sales climb to highest rate since April 2010

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 31, 2012

New single-family home sales accelerated in November to the fastest pace in 2 1/2 years and median sales price jumped from the same month in 2011, signs that the U.S. housing recovery is gaining some steam.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday sales climbed 4.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted 377,000-unit annual rate. That was in line with analysts’ forecasts of a 378,000-unit annual pace.

Government data for new home sales are subject to substantial revisions. Indeed, the Commerce Department cut its estimate for sales in October by 7,000 to a 361,000-unit rate.

The annual sales pace for November was the quickest since April 2010.

This year, the housing sector has been point of strength in an economy beset by flagging business confidence and cooling demand abroad. The median home price of a new home rose to $246,200, up 14.9 percent from the same month in 2011.

New home building is expected to add to economic growth this year for the first time since 2005. The housing sector, however, remains a shadow of its former self.

The pace of new home sales is roughly a quarter of the all-time high clocked in July 2005 when a housing bubble was still inflating. Shortly thereafter, the bubble began to deflate, helping trigger the 2007-09 recession, which was the deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

Home sales rise in Columbia, SC

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: November 19, 2012

COLUMBIA, SC The housing market is making a comeback in Columbia as sales rise and inventories shrink. But there are some roadblocks that could keep it from rebounding quickly.
Home building permits and sales of new and used homes in the Midlands soared in October, putting the area on pace for its best year since 2008 – just before the Great Recession caused home sales to plunge, along with the broader economy.
But before the celebration begins, a couple of major hurdles – including the federal government’s looming “fiscal cliff” and lending for small builders – must be resolved, said Earl McLeod, executive director for the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia.
“We’re ready to buy the champagne, but we’re not ready to pop the top,” he said.

Signs that the market is in full recovery mode include:
• Builders took out 234 permits for new homes in October in the Midlands. That is a 40 percent jump from last year and the most new permits through the first 10 months of the year since the same period in 2008, according to a new report from the home builders association.
• Home sales spiked 30 percent in the Columbia area as the inventory of homes on the market slipped to 11 months – nearing a more normal market after peaking in the spring of 2011 at 16.5 months, according to a report Wednesday from the S.C. Realtors trade group. That virtually ties with 2009 – when the housing market was propped up by an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers – as the best first 10 months of the year since 2008. Statewide, sales jumped 24 percent and inventory shrank to 10 months.
• Pending sales – in which a contract has been signed but the sale has not been completed – jumped 42 percent in October in the Columbia area. That suggests those sales will close in the coming months, meaning the area should see a strong finish to the year after a dismal 2011.
Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate – the largest real estate firm based in the Midlands, which represents a range of builders – saw its October sales jump 37 percent, said Ron Roe, the company’s chief executive officer.
“It was the best October we have had in probably seven years,” he said.
Builder incentives had a lot to do with the increase in sales, Russell & Jeffcoat broker Len Ross said. Some builders in the area are paying closing costs for buyers in the $300,000 and above range, he said. And some are touting energy efficient green construction, he said.
The competition with new construction also has caused home sellers to get real on pricing, Ross said.
“I think we’ve seen a change in sellers’ attitudes over the past six months in getting real with their prices, and so they’re getting more competitive,” he said.
That is reflected in the median price of homes sold in the area in October, which was down 6 percent to $139,500 in October. Statewide, the median price remained fairly steady at $149,900.
Homes priced in the $200,001-$300,000 price range sold best in October, according to the report, followed closely by homes in the $100,000 and under range. Homes selling for $300,000 or more performed worst.
“The trend is good,” McLeod said. But, “there are some big question marks remaining. The major question mark, not only for home building but for all businesses, is what happens with the fiscal cliff.”
In January, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to the federal budget – known as the fiscal cliff – will kick in if Congress and President Obama do not reach a spending compromise. Some economists predict that could plunge the country back into recession.
That could stymie the housing recovery and hurt small businesses, such as home builders, McLeod said. Smaller builders already are hurting from strict lending standards that are keeping them from building new homes, he said.
But larger regional and national builders are starting to fill out neighborhoods that were left half built during the economic downturn, he said.
And Irmo’s Mungo Homes said it plans to start building new neighborhoods in the Midlands in the coming year on land the company bought seven years ago and never developed, said Steven Mungo, chief executive officer.
“We’re spending a lot of time on planning for tracts that we’ve owned for quite a while that we’ve just had on the shelf,” he said.
It all adds up to a promising 2013, Russell & Jeffcoat’s Roe said.
“What we are seeing now is – we all predict – a real strong demand for new homes during spring and summer of 2013,” Roe said. “The future for the Columbia real estate market is really bright right now.”

SC Real Estate Market Showing Signs Of Upswing

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: November 2, 2012

Columbia, SC (WLTX) — A report from the South Carolina Realtors Association comparing year-to-year numbers show there is positive movement in the SC market.

Comparing September of 2011 with September of this year:

New Listings Are Up 0.5%
Median Sales Prices Are Up 4.3%
Pending Sales Are Up 14.6%
Inventory Levels Drop 13.9%
Days On Market Drop 11.3%

All the numbers taken together demonstrate the state real estate market is showing positive signs: more people are selling and buying houses, there is a bit less inventory that then is pushing prices higher, and homes are staying for sale on the market a shorter period of time prior to purchase.

SMC Breakfast (Tour of Homes)

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: September 21, 2012

SMC Breakfast (Tour of Homes)

New South Carolina Program Offers $6,000 Down Payment Help On New Homes

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: September 20, 2012

New South Carolina Program Offers $6,000 Down Payment Help On New Homes

Lake Carolina “McWheel Of Fortune”

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: September 4, 2012

We had a great time at The Ponds at Lake Carolina agent open house. We had lots of agents that came out for lunch and our grand prize winner Eric Moore won a chance to spin the “McWheel of Fortune” You can see what he won in the video below. Thanks to all who joined us and we hope to see you at a McGuinn Community in the future.

See what Eric wins!!!!!!!

Lexington Dixie Boys All Star Team

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 15, 2012

McGuinn Homes congratulates the Lexington Dixie Boys All Star team for their 3rd place finish in the South Carolina State tournament. McGuinn Homes was proud to be a sponsor for this great bunch of young men and all of us at McGuinn Homes congratulate all the players for their great run in the state tournament.

Building on Your Land, Get the Price & Features You Want – This weekend at the Carolina Classic Home & Garden Show

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 7, 2012

Wade McGuinn, President of McGuinn Homes will be speaking in 3 seminars this weekend at the Carolina Classic Home & Garden Show at the State Fair Grounds.

The seminar, entitled Build On Your Land, Get the Price & Features You Want will be presented at the following times:

Friday March 9th at 2pm

Saturday March 10th at 12pm

Sunday March 11th at 4pm

Wade & his expert build team will be at the McGuinn Homes booth all weekend long to answer your questions about all of the details that go into building on your own lot.
For more information or for complimentary tickets to the home show, email us at subject: HomeShow

Home & Garden Show Hours:
Dates and Times:
Friday, March 9 from 11:00a to 8:00p
Saturday, March 10 from 9:00a to 7:00p
Sunday, March 11 from 11:00a to 6:00p
Location: SC State Fairgrounds
Admission is $6/person at the gate. Kids 14 and under enter free.
Exhibitors in the show can send you a free ticket via e-mail. If you have one, print it out and bring it to the show this Friday, Saturday or Sunday!
Friday, March 9 is Senior’s Day – Free admission for visitors age 62 and older. There will be a special Seniors Expo at the show on Friday, March 9.
Every day of the show is Military Day – Free admission with your valid military ID. Thanks to WLTX News 19 for sponsoring Free Military Admission.

You can visit the official website of the Home & Garden Show here.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Want to learn more about Building on your land & taking your dream home to reality?  Get the information you want on our website at