Lowcountry homes should be close to double their current prices if quality of life was part of the calculation, in large part because the region has so many top-notch restaurants.
That's the reasoning of SmartAsset online firm its third annual study on the most undervalued cities in America.
The company this year ranked Charleston the sixth most undervalued metro area in the country based on livability. It landed in the top 10 but below last year's first place standing. For 2018, Pittsburgh supplanted the Holy City at the pinnacle.
SmartAsset says it developed a model "that projects home value per square foot based on how desirable a city is to live in." According to the researcher, "We looked at metrics including crime, unemployment, weather, high school graduation rates and walkability to uncover where residents get the most livability for their dollar."
The average home in Charleston costs about $172 per square foot, SmartAsset says. Its model suggests the city's homes should cost $323 per square foot if quality of life factors were included in the valuations.
"Charleston is known as a place where you can get great food, and its high concentration of dining option is one reason our model values Charleston so highly. Additionally, the city has a top 50 rate for low violent crime, ranks in the top 25 for lack of extreme weather days and is home to one of the most educated work forces," Kara Gibson of SmartAsset says.
"Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a grizzled veteran of the home-buying experience, you want to make sure you are taking out a mortgage you can afford," Derek Miller, a certified educator in personal finance whom SmartAsset says has two decades of experience in real estate, wrote for the study.
"Homes can be good investments and the best home purchasers are those who take on mortgages they can afford while buying an undervalued home."
Miller says the online group looked at figures for 200 cities that took into account unemployment rates, price per square foot, high school graduation rates, percent of residents with a college degree, crime rate, entertainment establishment density, average days with precipitation, average number of days with bad weather and walk score.
In a vignette on Charleston's sixth place finish, Miller complimented the city but felt it's not quite as undervalued as was indicated in 2017.
"Last year's No. 1 city is now valued more accurately, according to our data. Charleston is known as a place where you can get great food, and the high concentration of dining options is one reason our model values Charleston. Overall Charleston ranks 39th for concentration of dining and entertainment establishments," he says.
"Charleston also has a top 50 rate for low violent crime and ranks in the top 25 for lack of extreme weather days. Combine those high marks with one of the most educated work forces in our data set and it may be no surprise that Charleston is an undervalued city."
SmartAsset found that #1 Pittsburgh's homes are worth nearly $91 a square foot but should be $266 a square foot with livability factored in.
"One reason Pittsburgh is valued so highly is its educated population. This city has the 50th-highest high school graduation rate and the 35th-highest percentage of residents with a bachelor's degree out of the 200 cities in the study," Miller says.