Although 2020 was a tough year in many respects, CEO of the Savannah Area Realtors (SAR) Steve Candler reported last month that most of his organization’s members had “a pretty good year” for Savannah home sales in the end.
With home sales volumes and prices rising in Savannah, Georgia, low interest rates drove sales and more consumers reported plans to buy in 2021. Candler said he believes COVID-19 health policies like remote work and lockdown orders may have increased interest in the Savannah area.
“Folks are feeling like they can work remotely from anywhere they want to, and this is a gorgeous place,” he explained. “Why wouldn’t you want to come here and work remotely from here?”
Savannah is actively recruiting remote workers as well. Last year, the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) established the Savannah Workforce Incentive, a program that reimburses individual moving expenses up to $2,000 for qualified technology workers who move to Savannah from other areas of the country.
“Our beautiful, historic downtown, plus access to wonderful beaches and our reasonable real estate market makes us quite an attractive place to live and work,” said SEDA vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship, Jen Bonnett. The program extends to workers in certain areas of the healthcare industry as well, since more than 200 healthcare technology companies are located in Georgia. SEDA also offers cash grants of up to $12,000 for office rental assistance for qualified firms created at least 10 new positions, and another grant offers up to $20,000 for every five high-tech jobs created.
Savannah’s attractive location, pleasant climate, and local incentives appear to be paying off. The median home price in 2020 was up 10 percent, but still a highly affordable $239,000. The area’s low inventory (currently it sits at about half of “normal” levels) is likely to continue. Local builder and developer Jerry Konter, the vice chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), said increasing lumber prices are forcing his company to delay construction starts. “[This]will only exacerbate the lack of supply in our market,” he said.
The demand for housing in the area is not likely to fade anytime soon, either. According to a report from PureWow.com using data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, Savannah ranked fifth on its list of “10 Coolest Cities with the Lowest Cost of Living in the U.S.” PureWow created the list to identify “the best of both worlds,” an affordable city with food, drinks, arts, and entertainment, and called Savannah “a welcoming (and affordable) balance of old-world and next-gen culture.”