What is your budget? That has a lot to do with everything.
You have to consider all the costs involved with owning a condo before you decide on what to buy. You need to consider the HOA fees, and whether or not they pay for the building insurance.
Here is the suggested math for you: add up the cost of the Interest, Principal, Insurance, Taxes (Little River is good for that, since they have no added tax, only Horry County Tax, unlike other areas around here), HOA fees, property management fees, then add it all together. Say you come up with an answer like $ 1,000 per month. Is the fair market rent in the area going to cover that? Condos at Baytree in Little River, for example have rental rates between $ 650 - $ 995. The rule of thumb is that if the rent covers 80% of your costs, you'll be fine, since you have to add depreciation to the mix at the end of the year, which will save you money on taxes you would pay on your income. I prefer something closer to 100% in 90% out, positive cash flow is important to me. Make sure you have money in reserves to cover possible loss of rent for up to 6 months, in case your property stays vacant. Always play safe, and you'll stay ahead of the game.
As for timing, you better hurry up and snag up something while you can. Our market is in the toilet. In the Little River area, for example sales of condos for the last quarter of 2007 were at 8.41%. Only 8.41% of the condos available for sale, sold during the entire last quarter. At that rate, it will take us almost 3 years to deplete current inventory. Homes., on the other hand are faring better: they stand at 14.97% for the quarter, or 1 year and 3 months away from depleting current inventory. All my savvy investors are BUYING, BUYING, BUYING. Don't wait till the media tells you the market is good, because it will already be too late - the sellers read the same papers....
Check out my blog @ http://www.MyrtleBeachHomes.US/myBlog
for regular advice on making the most of your hard earned dollars. Good luck! Mirela Monte, GRI, ABR, BIC, SC & NC