November 2008   Past Issues  

Local Economic Report

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Data on the Columbia housing market shows a very different picture than that being reported nationally. Local information shows that housing prices are holding firm in the Columbia market, which includes Richland, Lexington and Kershaw Counties.  With just more than 1,000 transactions reported in the three-county area, new single family houses dropped less than 1 percent in median price in year over year comparisons, likely due to the inclusion of statistics reflecting more affordable housing in Kershaw County -- statistics that were unavailable last year.
Nationally, there is increasing chatter about a recession. Although GDP does not currently reflect this condition, a more technical definition will probably confirm the slowdown that is likely to be reflected in third quarter GDP. The good news is that domestic recessions generally last about 8 months, international recessions about 16. If the start is dated back to the fourth quarter of 2007, a likely situation, then by any account we have already experience the worst.


Permit activity is still down, but looking at the Employment to Permit Ratio for the Columbia market shows a condition where employment actually supports the inventory being created. That's actually very good, because as closings increase, and replacement activity slows, what has become a buyers' market will begin to fade away. 

Prices of homes, and their downward trend, have been identified as one of the primary causes of the current economic adjustment. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which routinely surveys housing prices, reports in the second quarter (the latest data available) that Columbia ranks number 33 out of almost 300 markets surveyed. South Carolina ranks at No. 9 nationally as far as home price appreciation.


The reality is that we are still in a "good" market, and while prices are the subject of concern in the national discussion, we are still providing our customers a valuable and worthwhile road to financial security. National figures over the last five years show that even in the 20 national markets suffering the worst of the price decreases, homes have appreciated up to 61 percent in the last five years.


Population increases in South Carolina, and the hoped-for recovery next year, should increase the economic viability of our community. There are already positive signs, however small, portending a better environment for use by the second quarter of next year.




Buying a new home is still a wonderful path to the American dream of financial security.



South Carolina, and specifically Columbia, are positioned well. We don't experience the severe run-ups, nor do we suffer the dramatic slowdowns.


I would expect that our city and state would lead as we return to a more normal economic situation. 

I invite your attention to our radio program, "Your New Home Columbia," which is designed to communicate a positive take on the Columbia housing market. In addition to builders, developers and others in the housing market profiling their organizations, the program and the associated Web site,, are featuring positive information about the advantages of owning a new home.
- Submitted by Hal Von Nessen, RESH Marketing