To say the resurgence of the Charleston Cup steeplechase races at Stono Ferry helps sell houses would be putting words in Wilson “Bud” Poston’s mouth.

But he doesn’t dispute one point. In 2012, “We had a frenzy of activity immediately after the Cup,” says Poston, Realtor with Wilkinson & Associates ERA Realty.

Not coincidentally, the Stono Ferry homeowner’s association moved forward with plans this year to upgrade the steeplechase venue. Notably, crews crafted an all-timber open air pavilion, set aside exclusively for residents, at the finish line.

The first event involving the expanded viewing stand will be the 2013 Charleston Cup on Sunday.

“It’s kind of exciting what’s going on,” says Poston, who resides in the upscale, Hollywood neighborhood. “I think we’re having a good year.” A half-dozen single family homes and six townhomes sold in the past 12 months, while three homes and townhomes apiece went under contract. Moreover, buyers and sellers struck deals on seven home lots.

Poston says he expects this year’s Cup, a day of sports and cocktails, to again usher in a period of acute interest in Stono Ferry real estate.

“With new inventory, we should be able to take advantage of it,” he says.

The real estate uptick in Stono Ferry off S.C. Highway 162 helps to confirm metro Charleston’s burgeoning interest in equestrian properties.

A dozen or more communities from Mullet Hall and Seabrook Island to Awendaw tout equestrian centers, while dozens of homesteads are set up as five to 10 acre mini-farms and 50-100 acre plus estates.

Poplar Grove master planned community off Davidson Road between West Ashley and Ravenel offers both estate-sized lots and smaller equestrian properties.

“Our first phase, we had 500 acres,” says Vic Mills, developer. His company soon after snapped up another 5,500 acres. “The scale of the project changed when we added extra land,” he says.

After building dozens of upper end houses in the early 2000s, Poplar Grove mothballed sales temporarily in 2006 to concentrate on managing its more-rural sites. A few years ago, the neighborhood opened a horse-riding center with stables and mapped out equestrian-style lots from six to 15 acres and priced in the low $300,000s. Three of the 15 equestrian lots have sold since then. In the next six months, Poplar Grove plans to market estate lots of from 50 to 150 acres.

Equestrian events dovetail with popular outdoor activities such as cross country cycling and kayaking, he says.

“As people spend time on equestrian trails, continue to acquire lots and build, we have been really working hard to fine-tune” the development, Mills says.

Just as equestrian communities pick up business, individual horse farms stand to attract interest.

“I think it (the equestrian market) is coming back,” says Terri Seignious, broker-in-charge of Sea Islands Real Estate on Johns Island.

Seignious, whose website address is www.charlestonhorsefarms.com, rides horses and has owned and shown them. “I am kind of ‘the horse person,’” she says.

The housing recession slowed down the equestrian real estate trade because “horses, like expensive boats and cars, are discretionary income. They are a family expense.”

But today, residential sales of horse farms and equestrian properties are picking up steam. The most wanted properties in the Charleston area involve “mini-farms” of 7-15 acres with 2,500 square foot houses and stables with three or so stalls.

Seignious says horse people are eager to move to Charleston for its climate and lifestyle but can’t always find the right sized lot. She says she’s suggested to a developer or two the need to “build a spec farm.”

Even so, horse enthusiasts are finding their way here. “We definitely have a growing equestrian population in Charleston,” she says.

While some Lowcountry home buyers own, ride and raise horses, others aren’t involved in equestrian pursuits as a hobby but enjoy events such as races, shows and polo.

“Last year, we had a spring race (at Stono Ferry),” says Cynthia Haskins Hill, a neighborhood resident and Realtor for Pathway Real Estate. “I was sitting on the side watching,” she says, and struck up a conversation with the woman next to her. It seems she was a horse person and purchased a house in Stono Ferry primarily to use the stables and ride on the neighborhood trails, Hill says.

By contrast, Pat and Butch Anderson were taken in by the sprawling lot sizes and scores of live oak trees when they moved from Connecticut more than two decades ago. The property on Old York Course near the race track is now on the market.

According to Butch Anderson, proximity to the city – “it’s 20 minutes to downtown and the airport,”– drew them to Stono Ferry.

“We don’t own a horse,” Pat Anderson says, “but we came to the very first horse race. The biggest (steeplechase) jump is in our backyard,” she says.

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