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Housing market remains strong, economist says

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Thanks to continued rising income and job growth, the housing market in the Greater Greenville region — including Greenville, Laurens and Pickens counties — remains stronger than many other areas of the country.

Robert Dietz, chief economist and vice president of the National Association of Home Builders, said the market is offsetting price increases with a rise in the median income of residents in the area. That median income has been estimated at $60,300, according to Dietz’s presentation made to the Home Builders Association of Greenville during its Upstate Housing Market Forecast Thursday at the TD Convention Center.

“Here, those price gains are driven by the job growth and that is simply not the case everywhere,” Dietz said.

According to the Housing Opportunity Index compiled by the National Association of Home Builders, 80% of the homes sold during the second quarter of 2015 were considered affordable for families earning the median income.

But, the market hasn’t always been that affordable. Michael Dey, executive vice president and CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greenville, said the affordability was as low at 65% in 2006 and 2007. He said, normally, the region sits over 70%.

However, with the housing market continuing to grow, Dietz said there are challenges.

“The challenges are the industry needs more workers and we have to have land available,” Dietz said. “But, as long as the income keeps going up things should remain in good shape.”

Another trend Dietz said has to be examined is the number of building permits issued in the region. In the third quarter of 2016, the number of building permits issued in the three counties was 26% lower than the norm and was second-lowest in six areas examined — only Charlotte at 37% below the average, was lower.

That, combined with continued employment growth and an increase in home prices could lead to a greater supply over demand issue for the Greenville market. However, Dietz said the problem is only slight presently.

“I think, if you take advantage of the potential for growth here the housing market will remain strong,” Dietz said.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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