What Myrtle Beach Tells Us About the Real Estate Market

Last week I was in Myrtle Beach, SC, for a short vacation — and I saw that even this famous destination is suffering from the slowing economy.

Some of my family members spend the winter in Myrtle Beach because it’s the off-season there and you can rent a big hotel room or condo very reasonably. My aunt and uncle have been doing this for years (along with a lot of other seniors) and they are tapped in to the local market.

They stay in a high-rise condominium building every year that faces the Atlantic. Each unit is owned by an individual and they pay a management company to rent out the units during the year. The take from the management company can be as high as 60% of the total rental income.

My aunt and uncle have noticed that condos in their building are no longer selling. There’s been a lot of new building in Myrtle Beach and there are new units available everywhere. According to them, the real estate market on the waterfront has definitely slowed and condos aren’t selling even after their asking prices have been reduced. They are glad that they rent every year and do not own one of these units.

I asked a lot of retailers how their business was and they mostly agreed that it was pretty slow. Hotel workers are having their hours cut back and even the golf courses are cutting their prices to attract more players.

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Show looked like it was doing a brisk business, and so were the restaurants offering early-bird dinner specials. One thing’s still thriving in Myrtle Beach — good old Southern hospitality. This was never in short supply.

As a major vacation destination, I think that Myrtle Beach is a prime example of what’s happening in the real estate market. Prices got out of control and the area now seems overbuilt. I think that it’s going to take quite a while for the system to create a new equilibrium. It could be years.