Before answering, Jeff Bowers paused for moment, not because he was stumped but it was so obvious. Why have a house on a lake?

Bowers, veteran agent with Re/Max Pro Realty in Summerville, should be knowledgeable if for no other reason than observation. He's listing a one-story 1,894-square-foot house on Lake Moultrie for $315,000.

"Well, I mean, just the recreation; (pristine) views, wildlife, birds and fish," he replied. "It's a slower way of life."

As it turns out, the waterside house at 107 Mourning Dove Drive in Bonneau represents one of several properties for sale on lakes Moultrie and Marion.

Owning a place alongside a sizable inland body of water can be appealing to a bunch of people: families looking to get away for a weekend, outdoor-types eager to fish and ski, empty nesters seeking tranquility and seniors ready to settle down.

Extending as far as Sumter County to the north, Lake Marion stands closer to the Midlands than the coast. But waterside communities such as Summerton and Eutawville are still no more than an hour's drive from metro Charleston, and the southern edge of Lake Marion extends into northwestern Berkeley County.

Lake Moultrie, meanwhile, works out to be a 15 minute trip from Moncks Corner, "which is becoming a big (town)," Bowers says. U.S. Highway 17A has been enlarged to a four-lane highway all the way between Moncks Corner and Summerville. "It's not as isolated," he says. Even Charleston proper is no more than 45 minutes away from the lake.

Bowers acknowledges that the lake-country market, which is half owner-occupied, half second homes, "hasn't picked up like I thought it would" in the spring. But he doesn't see a long-turn slowdown: "I think it will eventually pick up."

In the meantime, "it's a special bargain." For instance, he believes the Bonneau house is listed at an attractive price. "That's a pretty good deal; It's on the water with a dock."

For some local residents, Eutawville has proven to be a popular Lake Marion outpost. The hamlet crops up 10 miles northeast of Holly Hill in lower Orangeburg County.

Debra Whitfield, agent with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, has the listing for 1156 Saint Julien Drive in Eutawville.

In write-ups, she describes the four bedroom, three bath custom-built home as "beauty at the lake. Only 30 minute drive into Summerville and hour to downtown Charleston."

The 3,000-square-foot house on a half-acre lists at $425,000.

In her property information, Whitfield cites some perks of living by Lake Marion.

"This home sits on a cove off of the lake which was recently dredged for boat access in years to come," she says.

The property boasts a sun room with gas fireplace and lake views, and a "never-ending" indoor pool with marble workout center.

It's private, what with a "forest of oaks, palm trees and extensive landscaping," she says.

The residence sports a floating dock with solar-powered boat lift as well as a dock for recreational watercraft.

Other highlights include expansive decks, top-notch kitchen, a great room with big screened wall TV and a third level finished room over the garage that would be a good fit for a "pool table, study or hobby space," Whitfield says. An enclosed guest area includes its own kitchen, dining area and bathroom with separate outdoor entrance.

Another Lake Marion home that's being publicized in the Charleston area is situated in the Goat Island area of Summerton, off Interstate 95 in Clarendon County.

Angie Jordan, Realtor with AgentOwned Realty, notes that the home features an elevator from the ground level to third floor. It's got a second floor master suite and four bedrooms on the top floor. There's also a great room, gourmet kitchen, recreation room and three-car garage. Outside, the residence sports a private dock and ramp for jet-powered watercraft.

A common theme among lake homes for sale is the accessibility of watersports activities.

As Jana Bantz, Realtor with Prudential Southern Coast Real Estate, put it in her listing of 120 Rutledge Drive in Eutawville: "Bring your boats, Jet Skis, motorcycles, motor homes and your car collection," she says. "We have room for everything."

To reach lakes Moultrie and Marion from downtown Charleston, take Interstate 26 west. For Lake Moultrie, get on exit 209A for U.S Highway 52 and follow the highway to Moncks Corner. Turn left on Main Street (S.C. Highway 6) and make a right on Pinopolis or Broughton roads to bear to the lake. To find Bonneau, stay on Highway 52 over the Tail Race Canal and make a left on Black Oak Road. To get to Lake Marion, take I-26 to exit 177 for S.C. Highway 453 (or take U.S. Highway 176 or highway 6) into Eutawville. To reach Santee, continue on I-26 and make a right onto I-95 north at exit 169. Cross the lake on I-95 to locate Summerton.

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