Residing on the peninsula, Tatiana D'Amico focused her real estate practice there. But she just moved to Johns Island and has started to pick up listings in that area.
"I think they're growing, a lot of developers are moving on to the island," says D'Amico, an agent with Bluestone Realty in Charleston. The community's expanding "in leaps and bounds," she says.
"I really enjoy Johns Island myself: the peace and quiet," the Realtor says. "You are close enough to Charleston to enjoy" what the city has to offer in terms of historic attractions, beauty and nightlife. But the island, no less than 10 minutes distant, is "far enough away you have a country feeling," she says.
Once known for its bevy of tomato farms, Johns Island had been one of the hottest real estate markets in the Lowcountry in the early 2010s. The rural expanse between the Stono River and Kiawah and Seabrook islands cooled off in 2013. It ranked in the bottom five in pending sales, up just 4.6 percent, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.
But the slowdown already shows signs of subsiding. While the median home price on Johns Island fell 5.5 percent overall from $230,000 in 2009 to $218,214 in 2013, the midpoint cost shot up 10.6 percent last year after bottoming out at $197,328 in 2012.
In particular, the island has established itself as an alluring spot for new residential construction.
"People like the islands; it's just a hotbed," says Al Miller, Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate who's marketing a six-lot, eight acre investment property on Johns Island for $427,500.
Johns Island posted the highest percentage of property sales that were new homes at 43.2 percent, according to the Realtors association in its yearly real estate overview for 2013. The figure represents a sign that the island remains a draw and hasn't been overbuilt.
For example, D'Amico holds a listing in Swygerts Landing, one of a host of initial neighborhoods to spring up in the past five to 10 years.
The three bedroom, 2,151-square-foot house, built two years ago at 1310 Segar Street off Brownswood Road, is priced at $324,000. D'Amico has scheduled open houses there 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Sunday.
Johns Island also claims a healthy condominium market, ranking eighth highest by share of condos as a total of all homes on the market at 25.7 percent. And the community doesn't face a large number of distressed homes, placing 10th at 19.4 percent last year.
Leigh Smalley, broker associate with AgentOwned Realty, is quite familiar with the area.
"Johns Island has definitely been a hotspot over the last several years as the market has started to come back," she says. "Well priced listings there have enjoyed frequent and consistent showings - and showings are the first step to contracts. The island is attractive to all kinds of buyers because of an easy drive to downtown, proximity to beaches, increasing access to great restaurants and a great mix of property types," says Smalley, who is listing a house in Barberry Woods.
"Specific neighborhoods, like Barberry Woods, that are close to the Maybank and River Road intersection, really exemplify the perfect Johns Island mix: great access with a charming small community feel," Smalley says. "I love to list and show homes there because people always comment that it feels like 'home.'"
Her listing at 1781 Hickory Knoll is "a well-crafted, well-maintained one owner three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath (home) priced to sell at $225,000," she says.
Miller says the island benefits from natural and man-made attractions. The undeveloped tract of land he's listing off Parker's Cemetery Road stands "near to the Bohicket River, Kiawah and Seabrook (islands) right off the Betsy Kerrison (Parkway). It's good investment property," he says.
D'Amico says Johns Island remains "kind of a new venture" for her, and she's hesitant to talk about its current and future growth patterns. But concerning the island's looks and density going forward, she's confident about one thing.
"I would say it's going to depend on (the planned $558 million extension of) I-526," which includes a section through Johns Island.
As of now, to reach Johns Island from downtown Charleston, there are two main routes. One is to cross the Ashley River Bridge and steer left to Folly Road. Go over the Wappoo Cut Bridge, then make a right on Maybank Highway. Continue on Maybank across the bridge over the Stono River. Or, go over the Ashley River Bridge and keep going straight onto Savannah Highway. Follow the route through West Ashley, turning left on Main Road and crossing the Stono River Bridge to the island.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johns Island at a Glance
Location: Charleston County
Number of homes: Close to 5,000
Square footage: 672-7,688
Look & feel: Large farms, estates, getaways and small houses on moderate-sized lots have made up Johns Island for decades. In the past 20 years or less, the rural island also has been discovered by new-home builders constructing Lowcountry style neighborhoods and condo villages. Most subdivisions harbor anywhere from a few dozen to no more than 100 homes or so. Golf courses and multimillion dollar homes dot the island's southern tip near Seabrook and Kiawah islands. St. Johns Yacht Harbor and Headquarters Plantation hug the northern edge. River Road, which includes several upscale villages, follows the southern bank of the Stono River. Live oaks cover the island, including the largest of them all, the Angel Oak. Habitat for Humanity homes recall the region's farming roots, which included migrant workers and subsistence farmers.
Homes on market: 235
List prices: $54,900-$3,995,000
Schools: Angel Oak, Mt. Zion elementary; Haut Gap Middle; St. John's High; Charleston Collegiate (Private, pre-school through 12).
Fun facts: According to an historical survey in 1989, store owner John F. Limehouse had the first car on Johns Island, floated over the Stono River on a barge in 1911; "chipping potatoes" to make potato chips were a chief crop for shipment until a blight struck and farmers switched to tomatoes around 1945.