Dear John Upscale rural homes, new construction at lower-than-average costs fuel sprawling island’s steady growth

A backyard swimming pool highlights 4138 Nature View Circle, for sale in Gift Plantation on steadily-growing Johns Island for more than $1.5 million.

Prospecting home buyers searching for a Lowcountry market “find” — an area that’s rich with supply, in demand and listing prices at a comparative bargain — might look at Johns Island.

“I think we have a lot of competition with new construction,” says Amy Zonarich, agent with Keller Williams Realty. “They are selling as fast as they can build them.” She shepherded multiple offers on a multifamily residence that sold for $169,000.

Zonarich sees a “totally different market” for homes in the $500,000 range, which don’t face as much competition from new houses. “I’ve had six showings in eight days,” she says.

The Keller Williams associate lists a four-bedroom, 3,140-square-foot house in Churchill Landing with pool, mother-in-law suite and “abundant with fruit trees“ on nearly 1-and-two-thirds acres of property for $499,000.

“We just went on the market. I’m happy with the number of calls,” the agent says. She’s garnered three responses from an agent sign at the property. “It’s kind of a dead end street out there; you wouldn’t expect phone calls,” Zonarich says. “The demand is still there, when you usually see a (hot weather) drop-off.”

Zonarich joins a number of other real estate associates who are excited about sales on the semi-rural expanse set between the Lowcountry’s resorts and historic centers.

“Johns Island has exploded with new neighborhoods, interesting dining options, farm-to-table foods, a great farmers’ market and is close to downtown Charleston,” says Joy Millar, Realtor with The Kiawah Seabrook Group of dunes properties.

She’s showing 809 Captain Tom’s Crossing, a 2,751-square-foot home on the market for $489,500. The neighborhood, Grimball Gates Plantation, “offers more than many with Stono River access, boat storage, boat launch two minutes away, sidewalks (and) generous sized lots.”

At this price, “there is a quality that cannot be duplicated in the lower price ranges,” Millar says.

Johns Island boasts a handful of million dollar properties for sale, as well.

Set beside the Stono River, 4138 Nature View Circle showcases insulated concrete form construction in which “all exterior walls are six inches thick,” says Lee Lindler, co-listing agent with Bob Nitkewicz at Golden Bear Realty. The 6,275-square-foot home, built on a 0.9 acre lot with pool and dock, is the largest property on the market in Gift Plantation off Chisolm Road. Showcasing four bedrooms and five baths, the luxury home lists for $1,595,000.

“Johns Island in general has done very well,” Lindler says. “Gift Plantation is a little slow,” he says, noting the Nature View Circle house went on the market four months ago. “I don’t think people know about it (Gift Plantation) much,” he says, but a new community is set to start construction close by. “I think it will bring people to Gift,” he says.

Lindler expects road changes, including plans for a fly over on U.S. Highway 17 South and new turn lanes on River Road and Maybank Highway, to alleviate traffic on Johns Island,

Noting that Johns Island stands as the East Coast’s fifth largest island, Lindler says, “We have a lot of room for growth.”

Realtor figures back up chatter that Johns Island is a hot market and not expected to cool any time soon.

The island posted 533 home sales in 2015, a 52.7 percent surge from a year earlier and the steepest jump in closed transactions among 23 sectors followed by Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

Home prices in the same time period increased 6.9 percent to $256,500 in 2015 from $240,000 year earlier, placing in the middle in terms of price appreciation and ranking 13th highest in overall price trailing James Island, the Hollywood area and upper Charleston peninsula, among other places.

Johns Island also leads the Charleston area in new construction market share, with 39.4 percent of properties on the island considered just built, CTAR notes.

Millar foresees the region maintaining its current residential pace.

“Johns Island is one of the last places that offers a balance between access to all downtown Charleston has to offer and ‘country’ and suburban living styles that appeal to many,” she says.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or