Fall is my favorite season.
In the Lowcountry when summer finally lets go – the humidity dissipates, the heat drops and the bugs stop buzzing so much – it is truly one of the most wonderful places in the country to be.
Those of us who have lived here for a while or grew up here understand that summer will hold fast until it doesn’t. Then, the crisp air pervades and those brilliant blue skies show up. Fall is festive in the Lowcountry. There are homes to explore, downtown streets to walk, pumpkin patches to wander in and out of and fall festivals to enjoy.
It’s one of the best times of year to open up a home and show potential buyers the reason why it’s so great to live here. People fall in love with Charleston in the fall.
For over 40 years, the Preservation Society of Charleston has celebrated the magnificence of Charleston’s history and architecture with House and Garden Tours. The tour normally features six to eight private homes in the downtown area and runs from October 3 to November 2.
“Some homes date back to a time before the U.S. existed,” said Alton Brown of Carriage Properties. “Private homes on the tour are rare treasures that are graciously opened by owners. Some who come for tours become buyers immediately and others do so years later. It’s inspiring to spend an hour or so walking the quiet streets in the old part of the city at sunrise.”
During this time, open houses throughout the region also show off their best selves. The possibilities to view some of the area’s homes – from historical to brand new – are limitless. So are the opportunities to buy one during a very opportune time. Showings are up in our area – it’s the perfect time to buy and sell in the Lowcountry.
“While homes are actively marketed year round, fall is one of the best times of year to buy property in the Charleston area,” Brown said. “The weather is beautiful and mild with an afternoon sea breeze, children are back in school and there is a window between the tail end of summer and the holiday season when people tend to reflect and re-focus on buying homes.”
According to a recent U.S. News article, “Fall listings are still getting multiple offers.”
Buying and selling during peak seasons
Because of our temperate climate, buyers – local and out-of-towners – look to buy during the peak seasons of spring and fall. They are the best times to find a first home, a dream home or forever property. Whether it’s a downtown pied-à-terre or estate like home, a rancher in West Ashley, a new home in Mount Pleasant or a get-away-from it all property in beautiful rural areas on Johns and James Island or Berkeley County, fall brings competitive pricing.
“We often see quite a few sales happen in November and December,” Brown said. “Prices can be more competitive and a seller’s motivation is sometimes dictated by getting their home sold before winter.”
Brown lists a 3,376 square-foot-home in Mount Pleasant at 304 Bank in the Old Village for $1,075 million. In downtown, he lists a three-bedroom condo on 169 Tradd Street for $645,000.
Charles Sullivan of Carriage Properties has a number of historic homes in downtown Charleston ranging in size – from a one-bedroom, 778 square feet condo on Queen Street for $529,000 to a 7,000 square-foot-plus home at 23 Legare Street for $9.25 million. The home is circa 1838.
“This home is so unique as its sits quietly behind a group of neighboring mansions on half an acre of landscaped garden,” Sullivan said. “The location allows for total privacy.”
Sea breezes during leaf peeping season
Ten miles from downtown Charleston is North Mount Pleasant. From here one can still feel a beach vibe. This area of Mount Pleasant is becoming more and more popular – both established and brand new communities are here and people gravitate toward this burgeoning bedroom community of Charleston County. The average sales price for a single family home in Upper Mount Pleasant is $513,000 with the average sales price at $568,775 according to the latest data from Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR).
Karla Leahy of Harbor City Real Estate has a listing in Mount Pleasant’s Dunes West neighborhood. “What is exciting about this property is that it lives like a one-story home,” she said. “It is tucked away in an area of Dunes West, Downing Place. It’s the perfect home for someone who loves to play golf as you can walk to the golf course and to Dunes West beautiful clubhouse.”
Leahy said the home has low-maintenance in terms of yard work. “It’s perfect for those who have children coming home from college or visiting guests. The upstairs has two bedrooms adjoined by a full bathroom.
“There’s a guest room with en suite downstairs and the master bedroom is also located on the first floor,” she said.
Located at 4413 Downing Place Way, it has four bedrooms, three baths and has 2,659 square feet. The waterfront home is within a gated community and lists for $559,000. It incorporates ideal Lowcountry living – a walkable community, golf, entertaining options and waterway views.
The ever-growing community of Carolina Park is popular among several demographics because it offers 1,700 acres of homes, park-like settings and nearby health and education resources. Homes begin in the $400,000s.
Drive about seven miles from North Mount Pleasant and you’re on Isle of Palms (IOP), one of the best places to visit during fall. Those who are lucky enough to live here understand there’s no better time to beach comb with slight breezes, temps in the high 70s during the day and cool nights.
New listings on IOP are up 11.3 percent from September 2018 according to CTAR’s local market update. Median sales prices have risen as well – from $985,000 to $1,045,000. The average sales price has realized an impressive growth of 47.8 percent. In September 2018, the average sales price was $994,007. In September 2019, it jumped to $1,468,700. What’s more days on the market for single-family homes are far less than they were in 2018 despite inventory rising from 119 to 140.
Amy Whalen of Century 21 lists two properties on IOP. One is a 6,450 square foot, six bedroom, seven bath home that lists for $3.2 million.
“The wow factor of this home is obvious when you walk through the front door,” Whalen said. “It is a wide open floor plan that buyers love and it’s not overdone – it can lend itself to traditional, transitional or modern.”
The gourmet kitchen is stunning and flows into the living and entertaining spaces. Floor to ceiling windows flood the home with natural light and there are two offices on the main level.
“There’s a beautiful outdoor kitchen and a heated pool and hot tub in the back,” Whalen said. “You have ocean views from the upstairs. There’s also an opportunity for a very lucrative vacation rental if a buyer chooses this as a second home.”
Beautifully decorated and fully updated, it’s the epitome of optimal beach living.
Whalen’s lists another more “modest” home for $795,000. A three bed, three bath home at 17 24th Avenue is a brick rancher with over 2,400 square feet. A short walk to the beach, it has updated features such as hardwood floors and a great screened-in area for outdoor entertaining.
Beginnings and endings
Though fall signals the end of what sometimes seem our endless summers, it’s the beginning of the second busiest home buying and selling season according to many brokers.
Open houses help sell houses. Touring one could mean the difference in finding your forever home or waiting until spring.
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Fall Home Selling Tips
· Decorate porches, doors and welcome spaces celebrating the season, but not too much (leave the Halloween ghouls off and refrain from putting out personal holiday mementos and/or religious scenes or pieces.) You’re attracting the masses – keep it neutral.
· Place pumpkins, colorful mums and marigolds in pots along steps. They also look beautiful on porches or flanking a front door.
· Foot traffic may not be as busy during fall so advertising is even more important. Many out-of-towners come to the Charleston region looking for a winter home – advertising and dressing it up can entice them to make a decision while they’re here.
· Have a cozy fire going if the weather permits. Keep scents (potpourri, candles, etc.) to a minimum. Many people are sensitive to these and you don’t want them remembering your home from a sneezing fit they had while in it. Baked cookies or simmering cider are better.
· Play music that evokes a seasonal mood (at a low volume.)
· Dress up your furniture with fall-colored pillows, throws or quilts. Put out a bowl of pine cones.
· Be flexible on closings – this is the time of year when buyers may have to relocate and those may take longer than expected.
· Let there be light. Turn on lamps. Open up the shades and make sure windows are clean.
· Curb appeal. You may not have spring blooms, but yards should be trimmed and manicured. Rake up leaves. Flower beds should be mulched. Our climate still allows some colorful plantings during November.