Local estate market has come a long, long way

Real Estate

The real estate industry has evolved and changed over the past 30 years.

Back in 1986, we couldn’t even fathom the idea of consumers having the ability to search real estate in the privacy of their own homes.  Today, there are numerous platforms that allow consumers the ability to search properties, view pictures and receive neighborhood information.    

Residential real estate for Hilton Head Island was growing rapidly in the ’80s. The island’s population went from 12,000 full-time residents in 1982 to 17,000 in 1985. In 1986, the island’s 325 Realtors would receive printed books that contained new listings, continued listings, market analysis and statistical analysis among other pertinent data. Realtor Rick Murry with Charter One Realty and Marketing said he would use a map of the island and mark it with the different price points of the various neighborhoods, and that was how he would become knowledgeable of the properties and prices.  

Elagene Trostle, a longtime mortgage lender in the area, said she bought her house on Otter Road in Sea Pines in 1984 for $121,000, and the lot next door for $22,000. In 1986, the least expensive house in Sea Pines was $112,800; today, the least expense house on the market in Sea Pines is listed for $295,000. In 1986, the highest priced house in Sea Pines was a brand-new five bedroom, four-and-a-half bath house with 5,440 square feet, listed at $1.35 million. Today, it is not unusual to see properties with more than 5,000 square feet listed for above $5 million. According to the Freddie Mac website, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in 1986 was 10.19 percent; 2015 ended with a historically low rate of 3.85 percent. 

It wasn’t too long after the ’80s that technology started to change the industry. In the January 1996 Hilton Head Area Association newsletter, president Bob Brown wrote, “Information is a vital part of what we do, and how information is moved around is what is changing.”  Having returned from the South Carolina Association of Realtors Convention, he continued: “The majority of the exhibitors were computer hardware application software and data communications providers with a keen eye on the needs of the Realtor — the tool of the trade. The magnetized business card on the refrigerator is being replaced by a home page.” Email and cellphones started to emerge and become a necessity to remain in the industry. By 2006, 78 percent of consumers were going online to search for properties.

Today, there are more than 1,000 Realtor members in the area, servicing consumers from Hilton Head to Hardeeville and beyond. Mobile devices, online contracts, e-signatures and text communication, as well as other advances in technology, have only enhanced the buying and selling process. While technology has its place in today’s real estate world, it cannot replace the work of a Realtor. Realtors have the knowledge and experience of the local market and lifestyles choices. Realtors have the required education and licenses to conduct real estate transactions and have the accurate area market reports to price and negotiate real estate. Realtors coordinate and execute all the necessary documents and parties to a successful closing. It simply is too complex, emotional and financially risky not to have a Realtor working for you. 

Jean Beck is the executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.