Valued Luxury: Bottoming prices, greater Charleston’s growing popularity producing deals among million dollar homes

  • Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013 12:59 a.m., Updated: Saturday, October 26, 2013 1:26 a.m.
This luxury home at 4975 Sound View in Hamlin Plantation sports a front-yard sculpture of two herons. Realtors say high-end homes continue to drop in price but the downturn is bottoming out (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).


By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier


The spacious, 4,000-square foot home in the gated four-residence Scanlonville neighborhood east of the Cooper sports all the accoutrements of a luxury property.

According to listing agent Marianne Stabenau, the two-story marsh front home provides “spectacular views” of the Ravenel Bridge and Charleston Harbor.

She cites the wrap-a-round porches, heart pine floors, tile and marble in bathrooms and chef’s kitchen in the “Lowcountry-style executive home.”

Yet Stabenau, of Prudential Southern Coast Real Estate, acknowledges that the seven figure price for 739 3rd St. was too high at $1,099,000 compared with similar property sales in the area near Remley’s Point.

So this week she dropped the price to six figures, $999,990.

“There are a lot of people looking (but no takers),” she says. “You know what the saying is, when (shoppers) are not purchasing, then maybe lower the price.”

Stabenau’s case is not one-of-a-kind. Realtors report that luxury homes — typically houses valued at $1 million or more — still command more money that buyers are willing to pay and could see a downside before the high-end market steers upward.

“I think it’s a good time to have a house on the market in this price range,” Stabenau says.

While prices may adjust downward a little more, the higher end market seems to be gaining momentum. Stabenau says people who shied away from second houses and luxury home purchases are returning to the fold. “People are still looking for deals,” she says.

The Realtor says a client recently bought a condo in Dockside in downtown Charleston. The shopper seemed to be eying a move to Mount Pleasant or other markets with a range of prices both in and outside the multimillion dollar range. Stabenau told the client that comparable downtown properties also could be had for less-than-exhorbitant prices.

“In the Charleston market, you could now (move) downtown for the price, if people hold on,” she says.

Gary Speelman with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors believes that the high-end, luxury home market already looks to be seeking a more moderate base.

“I think the prices have come down,” says Speelman, who lists a front beach house on the Isle of Palms built in 1944 for $1,975,000.

“You look at the East Coast, and it’s good value for the Isle of Palms,” he says.

Speelman says he’s not sure the Isle of Palms house he’s listing counts as a luxury home, what with its age at 69 and its unusual rental setup for two separate families. But he said, “Anytime you can look out the window, and see the beach, (it could be considered luxury).”

The Realtor says beachfront homes work out well as investment properties since owners can rent them out at fairly pricey rates.

Even though values may fall some more, the market seems to be gaining traction as prices remain within reason.

As a comparison, Speelman cites the Isle of Palms market before the housing crisis, when investors were buying small masonry homes to secure the lot, then tearing down the one-story houses to build new luxury residences.

In the next two years or so, “I think it will be steady growth,” he says. Unlike the housing bubble, “It’s not going to go crazy.”

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

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