5 Best Real Estate Investment Markets in South Carolina

Steve Nicastro

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Steve Nicastro

May 11th, 2022
Updated May 11th, 2022

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South Carolina is a popular market with real estate investors. Located along the Atlantic Ocean, The Palmetto State features an array of investment opportunities ranging from luxury properties on the coast of Charleston, to affordable single-family homes and apartments in smaller communities like Cayce and Irmo.

Top 5 Best Real Estate Investment Markets in South Carolina

South Carolina is a diverse state rich in history and culture. Formed in 1729 after separating from its sister North Carolina, it's a popular destination for retirees and first-time home buyers desiring a low cost of living. The state is home to nearly five million people with a median household income of $53,000 annually.

Several major colleges are located in the state, including the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, the College of Charleston, and Trident Technical College.

South Carolina is also a popular market for real estate investors looking to profit on the state’s rapid appreciation rates and strengthening economy.

Learn more about the best real estate investment markets in South Carolina, and how to find the best investment opportunities.

Top 5 Markets for SC Investment Properties

1. Charleston

From luxury waterfront homes to a dense downtown full of condos and apartments, Charleston and its surrounding communities offer a wide range of properties for real estate investors.

Charleston benefits from a strong, diversified economy, with job growth in the tourism, technology, and transportation sectors. In fact, the city was recently named one of the top 10 markets expected to perform well in a post-Covid environment, according to The National Association of Realtors.

Major Charleston area employers include: Boeing, Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Walmart, the Charleston County School District, and Blackbaud.

Charleston is a prime travel destination, but has also benefitted from an influx of new, permanent residents. Its population has grown 25% over the past decade, according to the latest U.S. Census.

However, the city’s median home value of $486,865 is on the pricier side when compared to the state’s median value of $274,401, so it may not be the best city for first-time investors or those investing on a limited budget.

2. Columbia

Columbia is the state's capital, the second-largest city in the state, and the home of the University of South Carolina, the state's largest public university.

Like Charleston, Columbia benefits from a diversified economy, with major employers including the Palmetto Health hospital system, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Fort Jackson.

Columbia is one of the most affordable investment markets in the state. Average home prices are just over $200,000, although they've risen by 22% over the past year and are expected to continue climbing.

Columbia has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country with 2.6% of its homes foreclosed on, according to Attom Data. Low median home values and high foreclosure rates makes Columbia a favorable market for house flippers, BRRRR method investors, or wholesalers.

3. Hilton Head Island

Consistently ranking as the most expensive real estate in South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is a popular coastal community for retirees and seasonal residents.

The popular vacation destination offers some of the highest returns on rental properties, especially during the spring and summer months. Some real estate outlets report investors consistently generate 9% to 10% ROI (return on investment) from their rental properties. High seasonal rental demand makes Hilton Head a good option for short-term rental or Airbnb investors.

However, you're going to need deep pockets to get into this market: The median home value in Hilton Head Island is $693,000, up a staggering 38% year-over-year, compared to an average apartment rent of just over $2,500.

4. Greenville

With home prices rising 20% over the past year, the fast-growing city of Greenville presents some interesting real estate investment opportunities. Median home values are $281,000, up nearly 20% over the past year.

The home price surge is due partly to an influx of new residents: Greenville's population has grown by 21% over the past decade to just over 500,000 residents.

Greenville benefits from a diverse economy: Major Greenville employers include Prisma Health, Greenville County Schools, Michelin, St. Francis Health, Duke Energy, and Fluor Corporation.

Estimates show rent prices will continue to rise in the area: The current median rent price is over $1,600 a month, growing 18% over the past year. Growing home values and rising rents makes Greenville a good city for buy-and-hold investors.

5. Sumter

The smaller community of Sumter offers some of the state’s least expensive real estate investment opportunities. The median home value is $167,280, which is well below the state’s average value of $274,401.

However, the city saw a whopping 17% increase in home values year-over-year. Data suggest investors are taking an interest in this small but up-and-coming South Carolina town.

How to Find SC Investment Properties

The best investment property deals in South Carolina are usually found on off-market properties, including foreclosures, pre-forecloses, short-sales, and abandoned or neglected homes. Here's how to find them.

1. Use real estate investment software

One of the biggest challenges of flipping homes or finding rental properties in South Carolina is finding great deals, as it's a strong seller's market statewide, with tons of buyers and few homes available.

Real estate software or apps can help you find deals. Popular real estate software or websites for investors to consider include:

DealMachine: DealMachine's app helps South Carolina investors and wholesalers find distressed homes, and get in touch with owners fast via batch skip tracing and direct mail campaigns.

Its driving for dollars app is fast and easy to use. Let's say you're driving around Columbia and spot a home that looks like it could be a great deal (maybe it's in rough shape or abandoned). You'd pull up the DealMachine app to get the owner's contact info., or send the owner direct mail to see if they're interested in selling (no post office visits required).

Download the DealMachine app to find undervalued South Carolina properties as you drive. The company offers a 7-day free trial and $15 in free credits that can be used towards marketing (like sending out direct mail to homeowners).

Flipster: Primarily targeting house flippers, this app helps user find motivated seller leads, while also providing valuable comparable property information to help you estimate a home's fair market value before making an offer.

Flipperforce: The Flipperforce app helps BRRRR method investors analyze home values to calculate the maximum purchase price to offer on a property before making a purchase. It also offers rehab project calendars, tasks and to-do lists to help your rehab projects stay on track.

Zillow foreclosure center: Zillow makes it easy to find foreclosed and bank-owned properties in South Carolina.

However, unlike off-market properties you'd find on DealMachine and other software, most of Zillow's properties are publicly listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) - meaning you'll likely face stiff competition from other investors.

Find properties that meet your criteria with DealMachine

2. Partner with an investor-friendly realtor

Partnering with an investor-friendly realtor is the best way to ensure a favorable, easy home purchase.

You can find a realtor that works primarily with investors, understands real estate laws and practices specific to the state, and can provide you access to lesser-known neighborhoods and off-market properties that match your criteria.

One way to find an investor-friendly realtor is to use an agent-matching service, which matches you up to local realtors that meet your home buying criteria. Some services, like Clever Real Estate, even offer you money back on your home purchase.

3. Join a SC Real Estate Investing Club

If you're new to real estate, it could make sense to join a local real estate investing club to learn the business from local pros and find a lower-risk investment property for your first deal. Here are a few to consider.

Charleston Real Estate Investors Association: The Charleston-based group covers the tai-county area (Charleston, North Charleston, and Summerville). The group meets on a regular basis (4-5 times a month) to share information, leads, and contacts to help group members learn more about real estate investing.

Midlands Real Estate Investors Association: The educational and networking organization says it "promotes and provides quality education in real estate investing techniques in the South Carolina Midlands," which includes the areas of Aiken, Kershaw, and Newberry.

Columbia Real Estate Investors Association: The popular Meetup group has over 800 members and has weekly meetings for local investors to share investing ideas and discuss available properties in Columbia.

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