Here's a tip about Edisto: buyers today can snap up beach and creek properties at downright affordable prices.
So says Carolina One Real Estate agent Jim Kempson, a long-time Realtor in the region. He's sure it's a deal for purchasers - "as long as they can be happy with a noncommercial, friendly atmosphere."
Call them independent: The Edistos, island and beach, do things their own way. Neither place is a tourist trap or exclusive retreat. But both showcase spectacular natural views. And while there's fewer entertainment draws than some places, people can make do, whether boating, fishing, bird watching, visiting the state park or playing golf.
The island and beach, meanwhile, are upbeat about the real estate market going forward. Second home and resort properties dominate beach and island sales, and those were among the hardest hit in the slumping market beginning around 2008. They've lagged behind as much of the housing industry has rebounded.
"Activity really is starting to pick up," says Matthew Kizer, owner of Edisto Sales and Rentals Realty. At the same time, home prices are off 40-50 percent from the 2007 pre-recession highs. "You can still get value on Edisto."
Kizer says buyers can capture value deals compared with prices at Charleston area beaches.
"We think Edisto has that special feeling," he says. Home purchasers can take advantage of Charleston's entertainment and shopping perks while returning to "our Edi-slow atmosphere. It's the best of both worlds."
Edisto agents say they're seeing signs of a recovering market and expect the upturn to continue.
"It just takes us awhile. We are a resort," says Marie Bost, owner of Edisto Real Estate Co.
Edisto has reported 77 sales to date this year totaling $17,867,000 and a median price of $230,000. By comparison, transactions in 2013 hit 86 with $22 million volume and a $262,000 midpoint price.
She says the "uncertainty" over federal flood insurance, which was expected to surge in cost until Congress reached a tenuous compromise, has slowed sales.
But it hasn't stifled interest. "Edisto's a fabulous place, island," Bost says. "It's a laidback family feel. There's not a lot (in terms of organized recreation) going on, a natural area." There is one golf course at the eastern edge of the beach. But for the most part, "You make your own fun," she says.
Edisto Island, which is south of Dawhoo Bridge off S.C. Highway 174, and Edisto Beach in Colleton County on the Atlantic Ocean are a 50 minute drive from the Charleston area but that's not as long comparatively as you might think.
Bost says she used to live at Wild Dunes and it "flat out" takes longer to get to town from the tip of the Isle of Palms than Edisto.
"It's a nice community," says David Baird, agent with Prudential Southern Coast Real Estate who has a listing for a $370,000 home. It's on 10 acres off Chisolm Plantation Road on Edisto Island. "For a person who's a real outdoors person, it's all right there."
Baird says Edisto's one of a kind because of three major perks.
"We are in the Lowcountry, which is not bad. You find something close to the ocean or creek." And, the property includes acreage "with all kinds of wildlife on it," he says. Some places have one of two of the attractions. "In this community, you've got all three," he says.
Julie Gyselinck, an agent with Atwood Vacations and Real Estate, specializes in properties on Edisto Beach.
"You are definitely seeing an upswing in the market," she says. The buyers and renters arrive from close by and far away. "We have a large market of people from Illinois, North Carolina. We've got a big following in Georgia."
At the same, Colleton County including Walterboro remains a key source as does the Charleston area. "You still find people in Charleston (coming to Edisto)." Second homes in the $400,000 range are proving the most popular. Edisto Beach, where people can have a party and enjoy family time as well, "really is a hidden gem."
Kempson has been involved in the real estate trade in the Edisto area for a couple of decades.
"We are selling a lot of property (but) are still in recovery mode," he says. "We had nine sales last month, so we've got a lot of activity."
Over the years, his book of business has evolved. "Initially (for 10-15 years) I sell at the beach." His sales share was 75 percent oceanside and 25 percent island venues. "Now, it's 50-50."
The same circumstances can be said about his residence, once at Edisto Beach and now on a creek off Peters Point Road. Half the property on Edisto Island is protected as part of the ACE Basin or other convervation areas. He quips, "I've graduated to the island."
To reach Edisto Island and Edisto Beach from downtown Charleston, head west on Savannah Highway across the Ashley River Bridge. Stay on the highway though West Ashley and continue past Main Road. Follow U.S. Highway 17 South for 14 miles through Ravenel to S.C. Highway 174. Turn on highway 174 and proceed about 21 miles. Cross the Dawhoo River to Edisto Island. Continue another few miles to the county line and Edisto Beach.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com.
EDISTO AT A GLANCE
Locations: Charleston, Colleton counties
Number of homes: 500-1,000
Square footage: 361-6,213
Look & feel: The two Edistos - island and beach - share a name but also differ in a number of ways. Edisto Island is geographically large, rural, bounded by rivers and in Charleston County; while Edisto Beach is on a long narrow spit of land, quite dense, bordered by a creek and the Atlantic Ocean and located in Colleton County. From a real estate standpoint, the locales aren't so different: both showcase multimillion dollar waterfront homes as well as residences for sale in the $300,000s to $500,000s and up. Edisto Island properties tend to include large acreages while Edisto Beach homes champion their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Edisto Beach is more of a town, with most houses congregated along a half-dozen or so east-west streets and businesses on oceanside Palmetto Boulevard. It has a golf course and parks. Businesses are widely spread out on Edisto Island, which counts a host of churches, oak-lined roadways and long avenues stretching to handfuls of houses on area creeks and marsh as far north as the McKinley Washington (Dawhoo River) bridge.
Homes on market: 194 (134 Edisto Beach, 60 Edisto Island)
List prices: $18,500-$2,850,000
Schools: Jane Edwards Elementary, Baptist Hill Middle-High; Colleton County Middle, Colleton County High
Fun facts: Edisto Beach voted to be annexed by Colleton County from Charleston County in 1975; The name Edisto stems from the Native American tribe of that name - the tribe moved to what's now Edisto Island in the late 16th century.
Visitors walk along the shore at Edisto Beach. Both the beach resort and rural island are proving popular with vacationers and second-home buyers alike (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
This dock makes a sharp bend before heading out into the island marsh (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
The Edisto Chamber of Commerce sponsors this welcome sign to Edisto Island (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
With These Hands gallery is located along S.C Highway 174, the main road on Edisto Island (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
This house on wooded Chisolm Plantation Road on Edisto Island includes close to 10 acres of land (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Docks poke into a tidal creek at this Edisto neighborhood (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
The sandy walkway, flanked by palmettos, leads to the beach (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Some of the houses on Edisto are quite sizable (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Wide wetlands expanses highlight Edisto (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
One of the comparatively few businesses on the island advertises bird houses for sale (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
There’s some new construction on the island (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A boat motors by a dock on the North Edisto River (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A pitched roof accentuates this Edisto property, which includes a similarly painted shed (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Sand writing distinguishes this little populated section of Edisto Beach (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A Mediterranean style house offers a European flavor on Edisto (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Dozens of bird houses line this roadside outlet on Edisto Island (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Gnarly tree limbs contrast with pristine marsh on the island (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Raw land is for sale in some places on Edisto (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A house in the woods on Edisto Island overlooks miles of marsh (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A creeping vine grows along this porch railing (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Tall trees flank this home with large front lawn at Edisto (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×