After 23 years of selling real estate, my mantra that “nothing surprises me” has been put to the test in the first half of 2020.

The year started much like 2018 and 2019 had, steady and full of the promise of being another recovery year as we all push the market crash of 2008 farther and farther into our rear-view mirrors.   

January and February were tracking just as we’d hoped and expected, with sales, prices and inventory all heading in favorable conditions.

Then, March brought COVID-19 to the Lowcountry, and all bets were off as we were thrust into a period of uncertainty amid an unprecedented quarantine ordered to slow the spread of the virus.

That’s when we started tracking certain key metrics in the marketplace, charting them week by week alongside critical dates and actions relating to the pandemic across Beaufort County. Our resulting graph herein shows some readily predictable correlations, while it also documents much more of the unexpected.

By the time June rolled around, we were in the throes of a bona fide feeding frenzy that we came to learn was more or less mirrored throughout the country.

Most markets across the nation, including here in the Lowcountry, were experiencing high demand, low inventory, fast sales, multiple offers, and the like … all developing in the blink of an eye, and with no small sense of wonder and amazement.

But it wasn’t just the frenzied pace and impressive volume of sales that came as a surprise in the wake of a business shut-downs, furloughs and head-spinning unemployment levels. Our market suddenly began to light up with substantial high-end sales, so much so that by the end of June the number of year-to-date $1,000,000-plus sales had doubled from what we saw during the same timeframe in 2019, 2018 and 2017.

It’s not easy to say definitively what launched this new wave of interest and activity, though COVID-19, riots, work-from-home, and other factors all had a play in the “new” market.

Online real estate inquiries for our market have more than doubled as compared to this time last year, as the low-density, naturally beautiful, convenient and outside-activity-driven appeal of our market area has attracted retirees, telecommuters, urban-exiters, quarantine preppers, investors and many more.   

The word is out, and the Lowcountry is squarely on the radar for an unprecedented number of people.

So, where does this all position our market to head in the second half of 2020? 

Ordinarily, I’d brave the role of prognosticator and offer some sage predictions based on years of market tracking and experience. But, for the sake of brevity and out of an abundance of conservatism, I’ll simply yet confidently resort to what I think we might all agree is reasonable and sound: We should expect the unexpected.

For more detailed information and insights into the market performance in the first half of 2020, visit

Chip Collins is the broker-owner of Collins Group Realty or