A Hot Market for Buyers and Sellers
Brent Downing isn’t a native of Columbia, which is exactly why he’s so good at selling it to other newcomers.
By Jackie Perrone Photos by Jay Browne
Where is real estate Famously Hot? That would be Columbia, South Carolina, according to the experts. Here’s how one of them, Brent Downing of The Downing Group at Keller Williams Realty sums it up:
“Why wouldn’t anyone want to move into this area? It has everything, and I get to show it all off to prospective homeowners. I can come up with a long list of why people are choosing this area to live. The bottom line: Quality of Life.”
Brent is a transplant from Iowa. After graduation from Iowa State University, he began his business career in the food industry, and for about two decades he engaged in a peripatetic lifestyle, being transferred around the country to Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and California – an eclectic variety of situations for comparisons on lifestyle. In 2003, he found himself in West Columbia, where he moved out on his own in the food brokerage business. While he still owns that enterprise, his real estate license provided the chance to introduce others to a great place to live.
“I went into real estate sales with my own business. It grew into large-scale operations quickly and I joined the Century 21 franchise. Then, last October, I moved over to Keller Williams. I've held the spot of top agent in the Greater Columbia area in total sales since 2014.”
This adoptive South Carolinian may be considered a textbook example of finding a niche in a warm climate where opportunity abounds. It’s hard, he thinks, to pin down the biggest draw to our community.
“The weather is a big attraction, of course. Newcomers can’t believe how easy life can be without the harsh winters. But there’s so much else to offer in this area. Reasonable taxes, for instance, make a huge difference to folks who have endured the high taxes in other places.
“Maybe topping it all is the economic opportunity that can be found here. Whatever career path you want to follow, you’re likely to find something here. Families with children are in awe at the quality of our schools. Come to think of it, when a family is relocating, that probably outshines everything else.
“We like to point out to every newcomer that we are two hours from the ocean and two hours from the mountains.” He mentions New York and Pennsylvania as sources of many who relocate, and perhaps surprisingly, also Florida. The devastating storms in Florida have chased many away; they find they like having a change of seasons, with just enough winter time to enjoy a fireplace and wear a sweater.
Sports fans tune into the college sports scene in South Carolina. If they need sports action at the professional level, Atlanta and Charlotte are not far away.
Families shopping for a home come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Those with children focus on the schools, with impressively high rankings. They are likely to be seeking a larger house and gratified to find prices which compare favorably with other parts of the U.S. Downing says that the price range up to $250,000 is probably the fastest moving. There’s a satisfying luxury market also, which may climb to a $4 million level, bringing in the affluent as well. Move into a dream home on the shores of Lake Murray, “the “jewel of the Midlands.” If you don’t already own a sailboat, buy one and sign up for the next regatta.
The empty-nesters, on the other hand, usually are downsizing. That doesn’t mean they will compromise on amenities; mostly it just indicates they don’t need 5,000-square-feet of living space. A new “patio home” half that size still should offer comfort and convenience. Throughout the Midlands, hundreds of such houses are available.
Developers thrive in the Midlands, with available land providing a solid start for one or many new homes. Realtors in other areas usually find spring and summer to be their prime selling time; here, it’s a year-round market. “I’d say it usually peaks from May to July, but last year, December was our second-best month for sales.” If you don’t want to be busy, don’t go into real estate sales.
Of course there are a lot of comments about the friendly neighbors and the relaxed lifestyle here. In big cities in the North, people can live close together for years and never know each other. You won’t get away with that here. Your neighbors want to know you and offer the volunteering opportunities which bring us all together for the good of the community.
The economic crash which blasted the country eight or nine years ago hit the real estate market hard, but since bottoming out in 2011, the economy has roared back. Maybe you’ve been thinking of selling your home for one reason or another Maybe it doesn’t even matter why, but Downing can help you with the how of it.