Combination of factors fueling residential real estate frenzy.

By Christina Lee Knauss

Columbia realtor Graeme Moore, owner of The Moore Co., recently had an experience that would be considered highly unusual in almost any other recent era of real estate sales except this one.

He sold an expensive home to a couple moving to Columbia from across the country for work who had never even physically seen the home before or walked around inside it.

"We had met before and looked at some houses in person, but on that trip, they didn't find anything that worked," Moore said. "They couldn't swing coming back out here again because of issues with work and their kids, so they ended up having to buy basically sight unseen, using only photos and a video."

Buying a house without ever seeing it in person isn't the only unusual thing going on in the real estate market these days.

Increasingly common among realtors are tales of buyers willing to go to great lengths in order to get into a house, with some even willing to forego recommended precautions like home inspections.

What's fueling such actions? Simply, there are more buyers than there are places for them to live.

It's a seller's market like few others in recent memory fueled by everything from low interest rates to pandemic-spawned changes in work and home preferences.

The market is booming Columbia, Charleston, Rock Hill, and the Grand Strand, as well as throughout the Carolinas and the Southeast.

The wild market is also fueling an increase in cash offers for homes to drive quick sales. Recently, two companies that specialize in all-cash offers Opendoor and Ribbon have expanded into the Columbia market after seeing high demand for their product in other parts of the Carolinas.

"It's a classic supply-and-demand situation, with way more buyer demand than there is housing supply," Moore said. "These conditions were present since before the pandemic and they've only intensified in the past 16 months. With COVID-19, everybody got scared and interest rates plummeted, and many people took their houses off the market. Now more people are looking to buy because it's really cheap to borrow money, and there aren't the houses out there on the market to fulfill the demand.

Things are going to stay like this as long as interest rates remain low, the economy remains relatively healthy and we're lagging in housing inventory.

According to the most recent housing supply overview compiled by the South Carolina Association of Realtors, pending home sales in South Carolina were up...

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