With miles of pristine beach, fantastic year-round weather, and fun for all, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, attracts more than 20 million annual visitors. It’s the crown jewel of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of coastal communities from Little River to Pawleys Island.
Myrtle Beach calls up images of fun, sun, and surf, from the iconic SkyWheel and Boardwalk and Promenade to the freshly caught seafood and live music (the Carolina shag dance took off along the coast in the 1940s). Take a break from the waves and enjoy world-class golf, destination-style shopping, and outdoor recreation.
Rated No. 9 on America’s Best Small Cities List, Myrtle Beach is the total package, and it’s easy to see why you’d want to make this happening beach town a permanent vacation. Every coastal city has its own vibe, quirks, and cast of characters, and Myrtle Beach is no different. Its neighborhoods have distinct personalities and offer different living environments. There’s also a high season and locals-oriented culture that may be challenging to navigate.
Whether you’ve set your sights on Myrtle Beach for your forever home, vacation home, or investment property, we’ve got you covered. We spoke with the area’s top real estate professionals, scoured guidebooks, and mined local publications for the ins and outs of this renowned beach locale. Kick up your flip-flops and dive in our buyer’s guide that’ll help you think like a local and buy a house in Myrtle Beach before you can say, “Surf’s up.”
Know your beach house budget
Coastal real estate can come with a hefty price tag, but you may be pleasantly surprised by how far your budget could stretch in Myrtle Beach.
“It depends on whose budget,” says Abe Safa, a top buyer’s agent with 440 real estate transactions and Myrtle Beach resident for 34 years. According to Safa, the majority of buyers are coming in from out of state looking for a beach home for retirement or to enjoy the good life while working remotely.
While Myrtle Beach property is some of the highest priced in South Carolina — $355,093 is the median for a single-family home as of April 2021 — it’s comparable to the national median of $334,500. If a beach condo is in your future, you’re looking at a median price of $149,900, well below the $289,000 national average.
“Even if you’re on a low budget and want to buy something for $200,000, you still can be at the ocean in 20 to 25 minutes,” says Safa, who is also a condo specialist and has sold 310 more than the average agent.
Like many beach towns across the country, the market in Myrtle Beach is hyperlocal and competitive. Horry County has just over a one-month supply of housing inventory as of May 2021. While deals and seller concessions may be tough to come by, there are a few things you can do to make a competitive offer. Working with an experienced buyer’s agent who knows the city inside and out can put you on the fast track to owning a piece of the coastal Carolina beach lifestyle.
Submitting an offer fast and strong can help in this market where properties are listed and sold in a day or two. “Speed is the most important thing right now, and how quickly you can react,” says Safa. Increasing your down payment, upping the earnest money, and obtaining pre-approval from a local lender can also improve your offer.
South Carolina is also among the handful of states that require an attorney present at settlement so if you want to buy a house in Myrtle Beach, be prepared to budget for hourly attorneys fees or a flat rate for services. Your agent can make an appropriate recommendation for a local Myrtle Beach attorney.
Property taxes and insurance
Thanks to high annual revenues from tourism in the region, property taxes in Horry County are the lowest in South Carolina and appeal to out-of-state buyers. With an average effective rate of just .38%, you can expect to pay about $760 in taxes annually for a home valued at $200,000.
Saving money on property taxes will come in handy, as Myrtle Beach has some of the highest homeowners insurance premiums in the country, with an average annual premium of $3,858. Climate and weather will impact your homeowner’s insurance costs, and Myrtle Beach is located in a hurricane-prone region that’s at risk for storm surges, high winds, and flooding.
Myrtle Beach is also a FEMA-designated flood hazard area. Purchasing flood insurance can offer peace of mind and additional protection in the event of catastrophic water damage. A silver lining — because the city participates in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and rating system — is that residents are eligible for a reduced premium.
While violent crime is down in Myrtle Beach as of May 2021, property crime is on the rise. You can mitigate some of the risks by factoring anti-theft features in your budget, like an alarm system, lighting timers, and motion-detector lighting. If this will be your vacation home or rental property, consider investing in a monitored home security system to protect your residence — especially during stretches of time when you’re not there. Some security measures may even lower your homeowners insurance premiums, so be sure to check with your agent.
Match your beach house to your lifestyle
Myrtle Beach is full of personality with 29 distinct neighborhoods offering something for everyone. The Intracoastal Waterway, an interconnected system of streams, canals, and rivers that traverse more than 60 miles through the Grand Strand, separates the coastal and inland communities. Myrtle Beach’s long and narrow city boundaries mean you’re never far from surf, sand, idyllic backwaters, and tranquil lakes. A lifestyle on the water awaits — simply pick your paradise.
Many people head to Myrtle Beach with dreams of endless ocean views and beach access right outside their front door. With miles of pristine shoreline, Myrtle Beach offers homes along the beach for moderate and high-end budgets, from the low $100,000s up to several million dollars.
If you crave the beach and lots of things to see and do within walking distance, city center and the neighborhood just north of North Ocean Boulevard and 21st Avenue are a stone’s throw from the iconic boardwalk with its many restaurants, shops, and attractions. Homes here tend to be mid- to high-rise condominium developments and single-family homes.
As with any neighborhood, expect trade-offs. Given the location near popular tourist destinations, there’s a high density of renter-occupied and vacant homes in these areas. Expect lots of traffic and noise during the summer months. Locals head to North Myrtle Beach 15 miles up King’s Highway for a quiet break from high season’s hustle and bustle.
For beachfront living in a laid-back locale, consider heading north on King’s Highway for a mile or two. The areas of Washington Park and Ocean Forest have a larger concentration of owner-occupied residences and a quieter, more suburban feel.
Golf course living
If golf is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. Known as the “Golf Capital of the World,” Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand boast more than 90 courses. Live minutes from your next hole-in-one at Carolina Lakes, where famous courses Man O’ War Golf Club and The Wizard Golf Links wind through the master-planned community’s neighborhoods of single-family and attached homes. Families enjoy the tranquil setting nestled among longleaf pine forests and savannas between U.S. Route 501 and International Drive. Wooded and lakefront lots are a draw, as are the highly rated schools that serve the community.
The Market Common is a new master-planned community located south of the Myrtle Beach International Airport. The walkable development’s mix of residences, retail, dining, and entertainment attracts a diverse cross-section of buyers, from young families to retirees. Homes were built in 2005, with new neighborhoods currently under construction. You’ll find single-family homes as well as townhouses, with prices starting in the high $200,000s. Enjoy shopping at national retail chains like Pottery Barn and Anthropologie and a tasty meal from 14 restaurants and eateries. This amenity-rich community also features walking and biking paths, a dog park, and a fitness center. The acclaimed Lakewood Elementary School that serves the community attracts families of school-aged children.
Myrtle Beach became a popular vacation destination in the 1950s and officially became a city in 1957. As such, more than 80% of the city’s housing stock was built after 1970. You won’t find any Reconstruction-era homes here, however homebuyers who appreciate the architectural charm of times gone by will be interested in Oak Park Historic District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Oak Park is a small oceanfront community of homes built between 1925 and 1945. Its eclectic mix of Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, bungalow, and Craftsman-style homes are situated off Ocean Boulevard. between 32 and 46 avenues, just north of city center.
Myrtle Beach housing styles
If you’re looking to buy a house in Myrtle Beach you’ll be able to choose from diverse number of of home styles, ranging from Carolina coastal and low-country styles mixed with contemporary architectural forms. You can easily find a colorful Charleston-style single-family home a short walk from a sleek resort condo development. California Craftsman bungalows and Mediterranean exteriors are also popular.
Embracing outdoor living
One feature many homes in Myrtle Beach share is an opportunity for outdoor living. “Homeowners like to make the most of what they’ve got in their outdoor space,” says Laurie Dragunoff, interior designer and owner of Decorative Interiors.
“Patios, gardening, year-round outdoor living, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits let the outdoors become an extension of their house.”
Southern porches and lanais are common, and according to Dragunoff, glass- and screen-enclosed Carolina rooms are often included in higher-end resale homes. Covered or enclosed patios are typically options with new construction, so if you opt for one, expect adding approximately $30,000 to the purchase price.
Dragunoff notes that kitchen renovations and flooring upgrades are common remodeling projects in Myrtle Beach homes. “If you have a home that has new flooring, new paint, and a new kitchen, it’s gone instantly and it’s going for top dollar,” says Safa.
Both Safa and Dragunoff note that luxury vinyl plank is a flooring material that’s trending in home renovations because it offers the look and feel of real wood without the risk of warping that’s common in high-moisture coastal communities.
Maintaining a coastal home
A home on the coast also requires more maintenance and repairs. Wind and salty air are corrosive and affect the longevity of a home’s materials. Roofs are often in need of repair and offer a lifespan shorter than the national average. Paint peels faster near the ocean, so home exteriors may need stripping and repainting more frequently.
That’s why a thorough home inspection by a reputable company is important to identify potential problems that come with coastal living. “The most expensive repairs in any home are one of four major things: the roof, HVAC, any foundation problems, and DIYs,” says Darren Dawson, home inspector and owner of Lab Home Inspections.
Dawson notes a particularly high rate of HVAC systems past their prime during his Myrtle Beach-area inspections. “On some occasions, before the inspection, sellers will change the air filters for the appearance that the HVAC’s fine,” he says.
Interior humidity can be an issue in Myrtle Beach and leads to mold, mildew, and watermarks in the home. Homes equipped with a whole-house dehumidifier, preferably with the HVAC unit, offer more comfortable and healthier indoor environments. Moisture is a pest magnet, and Dawson recommends a termite inspection whenever possible. “Like everything else, if it’s found early it can usually be remediated easily,” he says.
When to buy a house in Myrtle Beach
While market conditions change and are unpredictable, the off-season from January through May is a more favorable time to buy. If you choose to buy a house in Myrtle Beach in February, purchase prices are 10% lower than the average. Given the Grand Strand’s low housing inventory in 2021, homes in Myrtle Beach are selling quickly at or above asking price throughout the year.
Find a top buyer’s agent
Timing is everything in Myrtle Beach, and it’s not so much what you know as who you know. The city has a distinctive locals culture, and an experienced buyer’s agent can make a difference in a competitive coastal market. The top 3% of agents in Myrtle Beach represent more than 600 real estate transactions per year and can save you up to $43,590 on a home purchase. Connect with an agent today to buy a house in Myrtle Beach and you’ll be dancing the celebratory shag in your new beach house faster than you think.
Header Image Source: (Amanda Frank / Unsplash)