Already rarefied prices of metro Charleston mansions and beach houses have "bumped up some," notes Raina Rubin, a Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate, just as Lowcountry luxury investors emerge from a languid summer with eyes on some buys.

Luxury home seekers are anxious to take in milder temperatures so they can walk and drive around checking out million dollar plus homes downtown, on barrier islands, along wide-open country roads and within high-brow suburbs. At the same time, high-end property lookers are facing the first real Atlantic storm threat of the year.

Rubin, at least for the longer term, is upbeat. She's not seeing signs of "galloping appreciation." That's when "as soon as one house is sold, people put (their home) on the market for a whole lot more," she says, noting the condition stems from surging expectations and keeping up with the Joneses' anxieties.

"I think Charleston in general, there is a higher demand, ability for people to afford luxury homes," Rubin says. "I think Mount Pleasant is one of the most popular right now and very desirable," notes Rubin, who is listing a 4,700-square foot Belle Hall home with standout architectural features and water views for $1,350,000.

Local agents who specialize in luxury properties agree that pricier houses are a special type of listing, typically taking longer to sell and requiring just the right buyer. They believe the Lowcountry's high-end market benefits from the region's interest among well heeled property hunters from out of state, elsewhere in South Carolina and locally. Associates also note that wealthy property owners may own a number of homes and head north during the months when heat indices reach triple digits in greater Charleston, then return for the fall.

"The people are starting to come to town," says Judy Tarleton, Realtor with Carriage Properties who is listing or co-listing million-dollar plus houses on Tradd, Meeting and Savage streets south of Broad. She says the Charleston area attracts buyers in part because it's less costly than plush locales elsewhere. "Taxes in the Northeast are so high," Tarleton says.

Also, so many of the wealthier buyers here own homes on Kiawah Island and "enjoy coming to Charleston." They're interested in purchasing a residence on the peninsula, favoring homes that are already renovated rather than spending time and money restoring homes, she says.

There are exceptions. She cites a couple who are professors and nearing retirement who have owned property on Kiawah for more than 25 years. "They just bought 7,000 square feet that needs to be renovated." The peninsula house, she says, has been in the same family for more than 90 years. "They wanted to live downtown."

Based on yearly price figures, the toniest Lowcountry markets tend to be seeing value increases and jumps in sales. Seabrook Island median home prices ballooned 37.1 percent in 2017 from the year before and Sullivan's Island bounded 25.9 percent to a $1.7 million midpoint, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. By contrast, Isle of Palms prices fell 1.4 percent last year and Daniel Island saw a 5.9 percent decline. Downtown Charleston rose 1.6 percent year over year to $650,000 while upper Charleston peninsula jumped 24 percent to $465,000.

Sales, at the same time, soared 37.8 percent on Seabrook Island last year compared with 2016 and shot up 18.4 percent on the Isle of Palms.

Upper Mount Pleasant, the site of Rubin's Belle Hall home listing, saw a 3.5 percent median value gain in 2017 to $440,000 while transactions dropped 9.9 percent to a still healthy 1,427.

The residence she's showing "a little unusual," which is acceptable in more architecturally diverse Mount Pleasant. "You can entertain 100 people in this house," Rubin says, noting that the luxury home makes a statement.

For more information and photos, reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or