Columbia, SC Housing Market Overview

May 21, 2008

Overview & Methodology 

COLUMBIA, SC – May 9, 2008 – The Greater Columbia, South Carolina market includes seven counties (Richland, Lexington, Kershaw, Calhoun, Fairfield, Saluda, and Newberry) with an estimated population of 747,000 persons in 2007. The market has about 327,000 housing units, 83 percent of which are single family homes. This study dimensions the size, location, and growth of the Greater Columbia housing market. Data is collected from the Central Midlands Council of Governments annual studies of building permits and multifamily housing. It is also supplemented by building permit data from Kershaw County Planning Department.  


Since 1995, an average 5,700 housing units have been permitted each year with the greatest number coming in  2006 with 9,352 units. On average, 83 percent of permits have been for single family units.

The supply of multifamily units has grown 31 percent since 1995 or an average of 855 a year (Fig. 2). 40 percent of these units were added in the Northeast Richland, 13 percent Downtown, and 13 percent  in the Lexington market areas.

There are an additional 3,260 units either under construction or already completed in 2008. In addition, there are plans for an additional 2,100 units.




Occupancy Rates 

Overall vacancy rates are only accurately captured decennially.  In 2000, 90.7 percent of overall housing units were occupied.  It is estimated that 90.4 percent were occupied in 2007.   

Conventional apartments (all multifamily excluding subsidized and condominium units) reached their highest vacancy rate since 1975 to 10.5 percent. 

Submarket Distribution 

Twenty eight percent of all housing permits were issued for the Northeast Richland market in 2007, followed by approximately 18% in the Lexington market. The Lower Richland, South Columbia, Redbank, and Chapin-Ballentine markets each contributed between 6 and 9 percent of total permits. Typically, a combination of affordability, perceived school quality, access to transportation, and product selection drove these locational decisions. 


Northeast Richland  The Northeast Richland market continued to be the strongest area for residential building permits.  Single family permits dropped slightly in 2006 but the 1,200 multifamily permits pushed this area to the top of all Columbia markets. Within the submarket, growth is largely occurring north of Clemson Road between Interstates 77 and 20. Multifamily properties are generally locating within a mile of the interstates. This market has nearly 18,000 lots permitted for future development and there are still significant tracts of land throughout the market for additional development. 


The Lexington market strengthened considerably in 2006 – a trend that continued in 2007. The most significant development was the permitting and construction of three multifamily rental complexes. This should establish Lexington as a multifamily cluster, allowing it to absorb the unmet demand for multifamily rental units in the western portion of the metropolitan area. 


Redbank is immediately to the south of the Lexington market and has benefited from the boom of its neighbor to the north. This market remains composed of  almost exclusively single family homes. Its proximity to Interstate 20 and the airport make it likely to continue its pattern of growth.   

Lower Richland 

The Lower Richland market expanded significantly in 2006 with one large multifamily complex and a 25 percent increase in single family permits. In 2007 there were no multifamily complexes permitted and single family permits declined.  However, there are thousands of units permitted in this market which should allow an increasing amount of development to continue.  

Chapin Ballentine 

The Chapin Ballentine market is almost completely a single family home market with little or no multifamily development since  1996. The number of permits issued continue to fluctuate in this market as the supply of development sites with utilities is small. 

Lugoff Elgin 

The Lugoff Elgin market was flat in 2007 with 478 total permits issued. The major regional homebuilders have yet to enter this market leaving the majority of development to local companies. However, its proximity to the Northeast Richland market should propel increased growth over time.