When reviewing local real estate data for 2020, it’s clear that the housing market in Chatham County was fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which drove professionals and families from large metropolitan areas like New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles to smaller coastal cities like Savannah.
Attracted by the incredible quality of life in the Hostess City as well as the stellar range of real estate options, newcomers flooded the local real estate market in 2020, resulting in higher sale volume and reduced inventory. Relatively low mortgage rates and a robust stock market amplified these trends, attracting even more home buyers to the local real estate market. As a result, homes in Chatham County generally sold at higher prices and in less time in 2020 compared to previous years.
Chatham County Data
According to Savannah Multi-List Service (MLS) data, overall residential sales volume in Chatham County increased by more than 20 percent, increasing from $1,421,738,725 in 2019 to $1,718,985,843 in 2020.
The median sale price for a home in Chatham County in 2020 was $242,000, marking an 8.7 percent increase over the median sale price of $222,500 in 2019 and a 12.5 percent increase over the median sale price of $215,000 in 2018. In 2020, the average price per square foot for a home in Chatham County reached an all-time high of $156, up from $147 in 2019 and from $138 in 2018.
At the same time, inventory steadily declined for homes in Chatham County throughout last year. In December 2019, the local residential market had 4.24 months of inventory on hand, but that number plummeted to 2.55 months of inventory by December 2020 as buyers depleted available housing stock. As the pandemic continued and a growing number of professionals moved to Savannah from other parts of the country, the housing market in Chatham County got increasingly tighter.
In 2020, many homebuyers were attracted to homes in downtown and midtown Savannah as well as on the islands. All major zip codes in Chatham County saw increases in median sales price for homes in 2020. Many areas of Chatham County saw booming sales and significant increases in sales volume, sales prices and price per square foot last year.
Tybee Island had an incredible year in 2020. The median residential sale price hit $442,500 for 2020, posting a noteworthy increase over the median sale price of $415,000 in 2019. During the same period, the price per square foot increased from $322 to $342. Inventory fell to 4.05 months in December from 14.08 months a year ago. Sales volume on Tybee was quite robust, jumping from $79,401,284 in 2019 to a record $130,334,838 in 2020.
Skidaway Island’s real estate market also had a great year. Sales volume in the 31411 zip code exploded in 2020, hitting $227,043,125 and marking a significant increase from $167,207,014 in 2019. The median sale price on Skidaway Island’s 31411 zip code increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Last year, the median sale price for a home in the 31411 zip code was $484,000, marking an increase from $452,500 in 2019. Price per square foot increased slightly from $168 in 2019 to $176 in 2020. Inventory fell to 1.93 months from 5.67 months a year ago.
Other noteworthy metrics include the fact that, in the 31401 zip code, the median residential sale price was $400,000 in 2020, up significantly from $325,500 the previous year. Also, the median sale price of a home in the 31405 zip code – which includes midtown neighborhoods like Ardsley Park, Parkside, Kensington Park and surrounding neighborhoods as well as Southbridge – was $292,500 in 2020, up from $265,000 in 2019.
Likewise, the median sale price for a home sold on Wilmington Island, Talahi Island and surrounding areas in the 31410 zip code was $278,350 in 2020, up significantly from $251,900 in 2019. During the same time period, the islands experienced record growth in sales volume — from $152,735,274 in 2019 to $206,952,502 in 2020 — marking a solid increase.
A Look Ahead
Despite the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine is offering hope that the end of the pandemic may finally be in sight in 2021, it’s impossible to predict what the future will bring for Chatham County’s real estate market.
We are hopeful that national unemployment rates will bounce back and that interest rates will remain low. On a local level, we are optimistic that the return of festivals, parades and live events later in 2021 will bring much-needed revenue to area businesses. We expect that Savannah will continue to attract buyers from across the country who are drawn to the lifestyle, beauty, history and charm of coastal Georgia.
Now is a great time to sell a home in Chatham County because inventory is down and sale prices are on the rise. It’s also a strategic time to buy, since interest rates remain relatively low.
Activity in the local real estate market will likely continue to be driven by the pandemic in 2021. Fortunately, Chatham County offers an incredible range of housing options — from historic homes in Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District to waterfront houses on the islands – and residential communities to suit every lifestyle.