5 Best Real Estate Investment Markets in South Carolina

Alex Long

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Alex Long

September 26th, 2022
Updated September 26th, 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.

Formed in 1729 after separating from its sister North Carolina, the state is a popular destination for retirees and first-time home buyers desiring a low cost of living.

South Carolina real estate market overview

South Carolina is home to nearly five million people with a median household income of $53,000 annually. The population has been steadily growing, ranking in the top five fastest growing states in the nation between 2020 and 2021.[1]

Economically, South Carolina looks strong with an unemployment rate of 3.4% in early 2022[2] and over 16,000 jobs added in July 2022 alone.[3]

Several major colleges are located in the state, including the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, the College of Charleston, and Trident Technical College. It's also naturally beautiful, with both mountains and sandy beaches.

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

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What are the 5 best markets in South Carolina to invest in real estate?

🏆 Best overall
💰 Best value
🌴 Best for short-term rentals
🛠 Best for flippers
🌟 Hidden gem

Deciding which market is best to invest in depends on what your goals are. What makes a successful vacation rental is not necessarily the same as a good buy-and-hold home.

» MORE: 8 Steps to Buying a House in South Carolina

Some investors focus on appreciation to avoid paying capital gains every year, whereas others like the steady stream of income that comes with solid cashflow properties. We've identified some of the best investment markets for multiple strategies below, but you can also use our rental property calculator to evaluate individual properties.

To find the best real estate investment market in South Carolina, we compiled data across the state. We evaluated the increase in property values, affordability relative to average incomes, and profitability based on the average rents versus the cost to buy a house. The markets below scored some of the highest totals in the state when considering all three of these metrics. Learn more about our methodology.

Charleston: Best overall

🏡 Median home value
$422,836
📈 Property appreciation rate
23.9%
💰 Median household income
$65,894
🔑 Median gross rent
$1,197
📫 Median mortgage cost
$1,567

From luxury waterfront homes to a 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. There's also a fairly large military base located in Charleston.

Charleston is a prime travel destination, but it's also benefited 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 $422,836 is on the pricier side when compared to the state’s median value of $298,085, so it may not be the best city for first-time investors or those investing on a limited budget.

Need more help getting started with investing? Check out our real estate investing guide for beginners!

Greenville: Best value

🏡 Median home value
$307,550
📈 Property appreciation rate
24.0%
💰 Median household income
$57,432
🔑 Median gross rent
$882
📫 Median mortgage cost
$1,223

With home prices rising over 20% in the past year, the fast-growing city of Greenville presents some interesting real estate investment opportunities. Median home values are over $307,000 and appear to have more room to grow.

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

Greenville also benefits from a diverse economy. Major Greenville employers include Prisma Health, 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 grew 18% over the past year to over $850 a month. Growing home values and rising rents make Greenville a good city for buy-and-hold investors.

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Hilton Head Island: Best for short-term rentals

🏡 Median home value
$505,079
📈 Property appreciation rate
32.4%
💰 Median household income
$67,723
🔑 Median gross rent
$1,203
📫 Median mortgage cost
$1,625

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

This 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 9–10% return on investment (ROI) 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, so you'll have to decide if it's worth the high cost of entry.

Columbia: Best for flippers

🏡 Median home value
$240,445
📈 Property appreciation rate
22.3%
💰 Median household income
$56,680
🔑 Median gross rent
$955
📫 Median mortgage cost
$1,246

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 $240,000, although they've risen more than 20% over the past year and are expected to continue climbing.

Columbia has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, with 0.3% of its homes foreclosed on in the first half of 2022, according to ATTOM Data. Low median home values and high foreclosure rates make Columbia a favorable market for house flippers, BRRRR method investors, or wholesalers.

Greenwood: Hidden gem

🏡 Median home value
$158,387
📈 Property appreciation rate
15.1%
💰 Median household income
$41,081
🔑 Median gross rent
$746
📫 Median mortgage cost
$1,011

Greenwood is a city of 22,545 people located in the eastern part of South Carolina, in what the locals call the "Lakelands." Greenwood is just a few miles from Lake Greenwood, which has 212 miles of shoreline and covers 11,000 acres. The area is popular for hiking, boating, and recreational fishing.

With a median home value of just over $158,000, Greenwood offers an appealing entry price for real estate investing, as well as a strong ROI for buy-and-hold investors.

The area boasts a strong yet sustainable appreciation rate of over 15%. It's home to the South Carolina Festival of Flowers and the Festival of Discovery, among other attractions and parks. Lander University is also located in Greenwood, which brings opportunity for owning student rentals, but it's also a reliable source of jobs and out-of-town visitors for the foreseeable future.

If you're looking for an affordable market with great potential with not nearly as much competition as places like Hilton Head Island, Greenwood may be worth a visit.

How to find undervalued properties in South Carolina

You can always make changes to a property to increase your profits down the road, but you only get one chance to purchase it at a good price. Below are some suggestions for ways to get the best deal possible and maximize your return on investment right out of the gate.

1. Use investment software

The real estate market is increasingly influenced by advances in technology. Now, a quick Google search can bring anyone hundreds of listings from sites like Zillow or Realtor.com. But everyone having easy access means more competition for every listing.

Using software like DealMachine can help you get an edge over the average homebuyer.

DealMachine's real estate software helps South Carolina investors find and research distressed homes, and get in touch with owners fast via batch skip tracing and direct mail campaigns.

Download the DealMachine app for a 7-day free trial and a $15 credit for marketing costs.

Other technology that could be useful to real estate investors includes:

  • 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.
  • Stessa: Stessa's software allows you to easily track the performance and financial status of all your properties in one easy-to-use app. It provides regular reports on how profitable your properties are and can be linked to your financial accounts for automatic updates.
  • Neighborhood Scout: This website is one of the leading market analysis tools in the nation, providing in-depth analysis of crime statistics, employment data, and appreciation rates at the neighborhood level.

2. Invest in foreclosures, auctions, and off-market properties

With interest rates rising and the foreclosure moratorium being far behind us at this point, the number of distressed properties and foreclosures is gradually getting back to pre-Covid numbers. This means there will be a sizable pool of off-market opportunities for investors who are willing to invest a little time, money, and elbow grease into fixer-uppers.

If you don't have the time or skills to renovate a fixer-upper yourself, HomeAdvisor can connect you with top local contractors to do the work in a timely manner at a fair price.

3. Partner with an investor-friendly agent

Working with a top agent who is an expert in the local market is a tried-and-true way to consistently find good deals and negotiate like a pro — because that's what they are.

Besides understanding local trends in real estate and knowing which areas to target and avoid, great agents also know how to locate deals before other buyers get to them. They can also alert you to laws and regulations that may impact your decision on which properties to invest in.

Working with a Clever agent means you'll have a top, local professional on your side, and you may also be eligible for 0.5% cash back on your purchase after closing!

👋 Start your real estate investing journey now!

Buy your investment property with a top local realtor who specializes in helping real estate investors find great deals. Clever can connect you with investing pros at trusted brands like Keller Williams and RE/MAX.

Enter your zip code to get personalized agent matches sent straight to your inbox. Compare your options until you find the perfect fit, or walk away with no obligation. Try Clever's free service today!

Methodology

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow, we've compiled median home values, average household incomes, median homeownership cost, and median rents to evaluate the real estate market trends for cities all over the nation. We then scored each city on appreciation, rent-to-income ratio, and rent-to-mortgage ratio to determine which cities were most profitable and affordable for real estate investors.

The cities with the highest total scores were then evaluated on less quantifiable information like economic diversity, quality of life, and desirability of destination to determine the top five markets in each state. We broke these markets down into five distinct categories to account for the various goals and approaches to real estate investment our readers may identify with.

Frequently asked questions

Generally, yes, real estate values have been rising consistently for the past decade in South Carolina, with rates of appreciation accelerating since 2020. The rate of appreciation varies from city to city, however, so be sure to research the entire state before choosing a specific market.

The best real estate investments depend on your goals. Flipping distressed properties can make the most cash fast, whereas holding long-term rentals provides reliable income for the future. Deciding what your priorities are and buying real estate that meets those needs is the best way to succeed in real estate investing.

Depending on your goals and budget, Charleston is arguably the best overall market for real estate investing in South Carolina. Other cities, such as Columbia, Greenville, Charlotte, and Hilton Head Island also offer desirable markets, but it depends on your investment strategy.

Related content

ARTICLE SOURCES
[1]

The Post and Courier. "US sees slowest population growth on record, but SC among fastest-growing states." Accessed Sept 26, 2022. Updated Dec 21, 2021.

[2]

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Economy at a Glance." Accessed Sept 26, 2022. Updated Sept 20, 2022.

[3]

Department of Numbers. "South Carolina Job Growth." Accessed Sept 26, 2022.

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