FILE - South Carolina home sales

In this Wednesday, April 20, 2016, file photo, real estate agent Lauren Newman (right) prepares to show a home for sale in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

(The Center Square) – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decline in home sales, but South Carolina Realtors President Owen Tyler said the real estate market will begin to pick back up soon.

"As South Carolinians become more comfortable with our current environment, the real estate market will continue to improve, and as the rest of the nation begins to loosen travel restrictions, we will begin to see the annual influx of out-of-state buyers," Tyler said in an interview with The Center Square. "Historically, low interest rates and a limited inventory of properties for sale have driven up sales prices across the state and driven down market times."

Tyler said the pandemic is to blame for the 21 percent decrease in home sales for April.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is the sole cause of the decrease in sales during April, and as restrictions across South Carolina have relaxed, we are seeing the real estate market begin to expand and we expect that momentum to continue," Tyler said.

Real estate in South Carolina is an economic driver for the state, Tyler said, and as consumers become comfortable with venturing out more, real estate transactions will take place.

"Safety is key in this process. Buyers and sellers need to know that the utmost precautions are being taken when looking at properties," Tyler said. "Realtors in South Carolina are following CDC guidelines and the directions coming down at the federal, state, and local levels. Realtors are also relying on technology more than ever with virtual showings, virtual open houses and using video conferencing to meet with customers and clients."

Tyler said the numbers already are showing promise.

"As the governor of South Carolina and municipalities across the state relaxed restrictions the second week of May, we began to see a significant improvement in 'written' business and the number of properties coming on the market," Tyler said. "Those 'written' contracts and new listings lay the groundwork for a strong real estate market in June and July."

The Post and Courier reported only 6,800 residential real estate transactions occurred in April compared with 8,641 in April 2019.