12 questions with Allen Robertson in Columbia, SC

Allen Robertson | Photo provided

This piece is part of our COLAtoday Q+A series. Do you know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.

Though originally from Columbia, Allen began his real estate career in Orlando, FL, inside of the Disney Corridor. He’s worked as a business development manager + spent time specializing in investment real estate before moving back to Columbia.

He currently works as the Market Manager for the Lake Murray branch and is a broker with The ART of Real Estatea local real estate brokerage that specializes in residential housing.

We asked Allen 12 questions about the real estate market in Columbia, including how interest rates are affecting Columbia, how he would describe the current market, and which neighborhoods are hot right now. 

(Read time: 5 minutes.)

  1. Describe your perfect day in Columbia in a few sentences.

I would head into Columbia from Lexington, stop by Piecewise Coffee Co. to grab a black coffee, take my kids to Riverbanks Zoo, grab lunch at Tazza Kitchen, and end my day at a Columbia Fireflies game. There’s no better place to take your kids in Columbia.

  1. You can only choose one local restaurant menu to bring with you to a deserted island — which one is it and why? 

Tazza Kitchen — because that chicken sandwich they have is awesome…and I’m takin’ the drink menu with me too. 

  1. How would you describe Columbia’s current housing market in your own words?

It’s a healthy market still, people do think the sky is falling, but we aren’t projected to have any kind of crash or bubble. House prices are still projected to increase 6-7% year over year. A lot of people want to think back to the housing market crash in 2008, but there were a lot more factors that went into that crash than we’re dealing with today.

  1. Name 3-5 other local leaders, influencers, or movers + shakers you’re watching.

I always keep up with Travis Wright at Mortgage Network because he has really good information on rates + ideas for mortgages. I follow Chamal Mediwaka because he highlights stuff around Columbia — like where to go and what to eat. I also keep up with the local real estate happenings, specifically CCRA and other local realtors. 

  1. What were the last 3 things you did locally? 

  1. How will — or how are — rising interest rates affecting the housing market in Columbia?

Rising interest rates affect buyers with affordability. Basically, when interest rates rise, the amount a buyer can purchase decreases — but that’s not always bad. There are some caveats to that. It opens up some inventory issues we’ve been having. So in a market with rising interest rates, it can be less competitive when buyers are looking to purchase homes.  

Interest rates are projected to keep rising, but if we look at the history of interest rates, we’ve never seen them as low as we did last year. Interest rates used to be like 15%. As a community, we think they are crazy high, but they are still considered “low” if you put our current rates into perspective. 

  1. What’s something every local real estate agent can expect from Columbia’s housing market?

The inventory is going to open up and we’ll see some more available houses. 

It’s still considered a seller’s market — and we can’t really predict the market in the future — but traditionally, the market always fluctuates and the market usually favors one side or the other as it fluctuates. We’ll begin to see the seller’s market transition back to a buyer’s market. 

But if you’re looking to buy a house currently, I wouldn’t necessarily wait because you know the interest rates are around 6%. We can’t promise that the market will be the same a year from now. You may be looking at a higher interest rate in a year and not be able to afford the house that meets your expectations or needs then. 

On the flip side for sellers — you can still capitalize on the fact that it’s still considered a seller’s market for now and the property you own is probably worth more now than when you purchased it. If you were to wait when it becomes a buyer’s market, you may not have the same demand that you currently have when you list your property. 

  1. We’ve heard, “the housing market is currently “bad” in Columbia right now.” Can you explain a little more about what that means and whether you agree or not?

I wouldn’t consider the market bad because interest rates are still low when looking at the history of interest rates for buyers. Sellers can sell their houses for more than what they originally bought it for and there’s still a great demand for houses as inventory is still relatively low. 

Sure, it can be competitive for buyers, but that’s why it’s so important to find the right agent that really knows our local market intimately to meet your needs. 

  1. Which neighborhoods are hot right now in Columbia? 

Forest Acres is always a hot market and desirable, but if you get priced out of that area, I would look more toward Avenues, Rosewood, West Columbia, and Cayce areas.

  1. Is all of Columbia being affected the same way by the housing market or are you seeing different trends in different areas?

It’s pretty much all the same — even nationwide. I think Columbia is a little more incubated so you’re not going to see drastic changes like you would in larger states or cities. 

Traditionally there are three things that drive a real estate market:

  • Local + state government
  • Universities 
  • Military bases 

If you look at Cola as a whole, we have all of those things in one location. 

  1. What’s something that every Soda Citizen should know pertaining to the housing market?

That the market is not bad and it is still a good time to purchase + sell real estate no matter what the rhetoric is. 

  1. What do you think Cola will be known for in 10 years?

There’s currently a lot of growth happening in Cola. So in ten years, people will look back and say, “Man, they’ve done a lot in that city.”