Buyers returning to Lowcountry’s luxury homes market
It’s a Mediterranean-style home with custom wood and stone details from floor to ceiling, backing up to Ralston Creek.
A snapshot of the local highest priced home sales through first six months of year:
191 Ballybunion Drive, Kiawah, $10.75M
109 Flyway Drive, Kiawah, $10.7M
37 King St., downtown Charleston, $5M
101 Venning St., Mount Pleasant, $5M
1013 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island, $4.5M
19 East Battery, downtown Charleston, $4.3M
Charleston Trident Association of Realtors/ Kiawah Island Real Estate
At $4.89 million, the two-story, 8,600-square-foot stucco home at 376 Ralston Creek Street currently marks the highest priced real estate listing on Daniel Island.
2012 Sales 2013 Sales Inventory
Sales prices (Jan.-June) (Jan.-June) (2013)
$1M-1.5 million 67 85 235
$1.501M-2 million 22 43 138
$2.01M-2.5 million 11 6 57
$2.501M-3 million 5 9 43
$3.01M-3.5 million 3 8 28
$3.501M-4 million 0 3 14
$4.01M-4.5 million 1 1 7
$4.501M-5 million 2 2 7
TOTAL 111 157 529
Source: Charleston Trident Association of Realtors
It’s a large price tag, but listing agent Meg Latour has optimism about inking a sale, saying there’s growing interest in Charleston’s luxury-level homes market this year.
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“These types of homes are selling now and that’s encouraging,” Latour said.
Latour’s optimism is echoed by many Lowcountry real estate officials, who say the region’s luxury-end market has finally reversed after tapering off during the recession. Local real estate experts say high-end buyers are enticed by the reduced prices, while others are cautiously returning to the market as their personal finances improve.
Those in the Lowcountry’s high-end market come from a variety of backgrounds, including retirees and an uptick in foreign buyers, Realtors say.
“This is a second and third house for some and we don’t have enough properties to meet the demand in some areas,” said Owen Tyler, president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. “The luxury and second home buyer is very specific, they are not purchasing a primary home in many cases so they are focused on location and views, and a vacation-style feel.”
The Charleston region’s overall home sales are up 22 percent through the first six months of the year, according to the Charleston Trident group. The area’s million-dollar market is even stronger.
Through June, 157 properties exchanged hands in $1 million to $5 million price range, up 41 percent compared to the first six months a year ago, according to the association’s data.
The strongest segment in the million-dollar market were homes priced between $1 million and $2 million, which accounted for nearly 82 percent of all transactions.
“It’s really good until you go to the over $2 million market, at that point it drops off the face of the earth,” said Matt O’Neill, owner of Matt O’Neill Real Estate in Mount Pleasant.
Through June, the highest priced home sold in the greater Charleston region was 191 Ballybunion Drive on Kiawah, netting $10.75 million.
The 8,034-square-foot, ocean-view estate on the Atlantic side of Kiawah was just one of the $79.3 million in residential transactions in the first six months of the year on Kiawah, up 23 percent from the span in 2013, according to Kiawah Island Real Estate, which brokers about 90 percent of the island’s housing transactions.
Chris Drury, broker-in-charge of the Kiawah agency, said the improved sales are due in part to renewed investor confidence.
“We also believe that the positive awareness created by hosting the 2012 PGA Championship as well as the international notoriety the city of Charleston continues to receive, makes Kiawah a very attractive coastal resort community,” Drury said.
In addition to retirees and Northerners moving South, local Realtors say the high-end market is seeing an uptick in international buyers.
The overseas trend encouraged the Charleston Trident association to offer a course on international sales earlier this year. Months ago, the association held a class teaching cultures of international buyers and allowing Realtors to earn a Certified International Property Specialist designation. The label provides research, network and marketing tools for global trade.
“The course certainly provided our membership with additional tools to market to and work with the international buyer,” Tyler said.
Downtown Charleston real estate agent Casey Murphey, of Sotheby’s International, describes a growing number of international buyers interested in luxury properties.
“Charleston is very appealing since it already looks European and we have had a lot of international press lately,” she said, noting Charleston being named the world’s No. 1 tourist destination by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine last year.
Murphey said the home prices in Charleston’s posh South of Broad Street neighborhood are up an average of 47.5 percent compared to the first six months in 2012. That growth has triggered more area homeowners to jump into the market.
“Sales are better and now you have people who see it getting better and are now putting their homes on the market,” she said.
The combination has meant busier workdays, Murphey said. “Last week was my busiest week since 2005,” she said. “It is because I have a lot work to do ... I’m doing things for closings and inquiries from people and have to get back to other people requesting more information.”
The uptick is echoed by Realtors like Judd Borders, of Wild Dunes Real Estate, describing a busier home shopping environment that “started earlier in the season than before.”
“Sellers are also getting closer on their list price and they’re not getting low-balled anymore,” he said.
In the case of Daniel Island, the Charleston planned community tallied a 50 percent growth in homes $1 million and higher.
There were 150 transactions for a median price of $518,750 through the first six months of this year, up from the 118 sales for a median $447,275 for the span in 2012, according to the Realtor association.
Other well-heeled areas like Isle of Palms, Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Wild Dunes and downtown Charleston have been growing sales this year.
Sullivan’s Island, for example, had 22 home sales through the first six months of the year at a median price of $1.37 million. The number of sales mirrored 2012, but the median price inched up $107,500 compared to the first six months, according to the association’s data.
Isle of Palms recorded 58 sales for a median price of $670,000 through June, up from the 52 homes sold at a median $586,500 in 2012.
Experts say some of the region’s luxury markets are still weighed down by distressed property transactions and the area’s large inventory for sale.
“If you’re a buyer in the luxury market you have too much to choose from, there are so many options,” O’Neill said. “If you’re a buyer in that market it can be hard to choose since there are so many good listings.”
As for the house on Ralston Creek Street, it’s had its series of ups and downs in recent years.
Construction of the home halted during the recession and the property eventually was foreclosed.
A private investor purchased the home a few years ago and completed its construction on the home with five bedrooms and eight bathrooms, including other details like hand-carved wood flooring, floating staircase, elevator, 2,500 square feet of porches, an infinity pool, and a dock with a boat lift.
Latour has listed the home since November. Since then, the price has been reduced $200,000 and Latour describes growing interest with eight showings, including a few repeated viewings.
“When you get into the $3 million plus, you have to be a bit more patient to find that buyer,” she said.
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.