South Carolina Real Estate and the Reality of It All



Any astute real estate expert, or X-box player for that matter, should be able to solve the real estate industry’s biggest problems. That is, given the tools necessary. The problem is not rocket science or doctoral level economics theory even, it’s a matter of people being able to afford homes – period. A University of South Carolina professor recently hammered home the brass tacks of America’s real estate, and economic woes – as they are really one in the same.

Mt Pleasant, SC - premier properties clouded

Mt Pleasant, SC - even premier properties shrouded by job cloud - courtesy Adam

South Carolina REALTORS met on Monday to talk about South Carolina’s predicament, but fortunately all the discussion points were not negative. Even more significantly, at least one of the experts speaking to the panel has a rare gift of summing up South Carolina’s, and America’s economic situation – and in the end real estate’s biggest and only problem.

University of South Carolina Real Estate Professor William Harrison says the housing market and the job market walk hand in hand, and as anyone with good sense realizes by now, his notion is really an understatement. Harrison went on to clarify his statement:

“South Carolina has suffered worst than most. Prior to this fiasco that we’re in right now, 28% of this nation’s $15 trillion gross domestic product comes from real estate.”

The real estate industry cannot sell salt march even

When you can't sell this? - Courtesy the photography of Kuyler McComas

Just like gunpowder residue on a suspect’s hands, the loss of jobs and industry in the United States stamped the real estate industry with a death sentence the instant the housing market bubble burst. Not many consider what would have happened for the market had the US had a more substantial industrial base when the crash came. It’s likely all the Wall Street shenanigans could have had so dramatic an impact on a strong economy – one not burdened by foreign wars, debt, and of course dis-regulated hedge funds. But that is another story. Let’s review some more basic facts.

Harrison also makes clear the reciprocal relationship between workers and the market. Houses don’t sell, because people cannot afford them – people cannot afford them because houses don’t sell. If you think about what a house and a home is, this point will be far more clear. In the absence of true industrial production in the United States, one of the only industries actually making something besides hamburgers is the housing market.

Reflecting pool at USC campus

The USC campus reflecting pool - courtesy the extraordinary photography of Ken Bloch

Building, maintaining, servicing, lending, and 100 other activities that employ people surround every house on the market. And the Realtor who sells them? He or she employs a great infrastructure of people too. It gets clearer doesn’t it? Professor Harrison also had this to say about legislators and their role in the situation:

“It’s a job for our Governor, our Department of Commerce, and our State Legislature. We have got to create a business friendly environment in this state that will attract business and boost jobs. Until small businesses feel comfortable in adding new jobs, our real estate economy can’t turn around.”

Abandoned Greenville, SC factory

No one at this abandoned Greenville, SC factory is buying a house - courtesy greensh

The directly proportional relationship between jobs and every economic indicator are as solid as a rock. All American’s need are more and better jobs for this whole economic nightmare to disappear. No amount of stock market leveraging, new media proliferation, political maneuvering, or any other strategy can accomplish this.

Whether a “New Deal,” old deal, best deal, or worst deal is come up with or not, matters little. America just needs a deal that creates a lot of good jobs – period. Then people can afford to buy homes. If all the Realtors, contractors, developers, investors and cooks at KFC would champion this – America’s economic woes would be over in days.

Think on this, it shouldn’t take long.

Drayton Hall outside Charleston

Drayton Hall outside Charleston, SC - courtesy Frank Kehren