Finding places on water isn't a problem in the Charleston area. The trouble comes in landing properties that fit the purchaser's location, size and price needs.
"There's so much waterfront property, which is good," says Barbara Blitch, owner of Complete Real Estate.
Until recently, there weren't enough buyers who could afford many lake-, river- or creek-side homes and lots. But that's changing as the economy recovers.
"I think we are getting retired people. You've got (executives) like at Boeing; people (who) can afford luxury homes," says Blitch, who lists a house with dock on the Ashley River in North Charleston's Archdale neighborhood for $899,000.
"Waterfront properties are more desirable," she says.
House hunters across the Charleston area are checking out information, going to showings and otherwise investigating homes and lots along the ocean, rivers and streams - although not all of them are pulling the trigger to buy. Local Realtor comments back up an early 2014 survey by Sotheby's International Realty showing that 41 percent of high net-worth homeowners want to live on the waterfront.
Oliver Mathewes, Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate, says he can appreciate shoppers' heightened attraction with waterfront properties. He's marketing one-, two- and three-bedroom villas at Bohicket Marina Village with prices starting at $229,000.
"We had a slowdown with condominiums," he says. "The reason the market is down (relates to) disposal income." Such resort-like residences are second homes to many buyers, and they aren't willing to spend money right now unless the purchase is a necessity.
At Bohicket Marina Village, 50 percent of the condos are occupied. Mathewes says that's a decent figure. He says boating enthusiasts benefit from the condo village being next to a marina. "Prices aren't like 2009" at their peak, he says. But they're "coming back."
One segment that's struggling involves boat slips. "There was a big craze in the mid 2000s 'condominium-izing' boat slips." But in the Great Recession, boat sales plummeted and slip sales followed course. "Why buy the boat slip if you don't have the boat anymore," he says. Today, he's marketing 37- to 50-foot slips to buy for $39,000 apiece, less than half their $89,000 original prices.
Mathewes foresees boat slip and waterfont property prices rebounding. "I think like everything it's in cycles."
The Lowcountry real estate market's fully bounced back in some price points. "In Charleston, anything under $200,000 is flying of the shelves," Mathewes says. It's similar in Berkeley and Dorchester counties under $150,000.
"The economy in Charleston's doing pretty good," he says. At the same time, there's an influx of residents from other states, including areas that aren't experiencing the housing rebound. Waterfront properties should see prices move up "obviously, as the income picks up (from out-of-state)," he says.
Blitch, too, foresees rising prices for homes, townhomes and condos on the water. "I can't say they are going up (now)," she says. But prices have stabilized and homeowners can expect higher prices for their homes, "if they can hang in there."
Waterside properties can be found in most every sector of the Charleston area and beyond, although are more common at the ocean; local, Midlands and Upstate lakes; and larger rivers.
The Reserve at Lake Keowee in the Upstate, for instance, is expanding its marketing reach as far as the Lowcountry with two new lakefront neighborhoods.
"To say these properties are special would be doing them a disservice," says Rutledge Livingston, director of sales at Sunset-based The Reserve at Lake Keowee. "They are ample in size, fairly priced and have a second-to-none view. You couldn't ask for a better backdrop for a family lakehouse, getaway or investment property," he says. "We do not expect these to stay on the market long."
Marinas, meanwhile, are open on Johns Island, James Island, Isle of Palms, Seabrook Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston and North Charleston and many other lake and waterfront resorts throughout the state.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.