Cornering the Market: Moderate prices, ample land, small-town ambiance draw scores of home buyers to Berkeley County seat

This two-story residence from Ashton Woods Homes in the Strawberry Station neighborhood showcases a sizable front yard. Buyers are attracted to the Moncks Corner area for its mix of alluring locales and lower than average prices (Photo by Marie Rodriguez/Special to The Post and Courier).

Familiar with the Pimlico neighborhood, John Saunders can relate to home shoppers weighing in on whether to move to a place that’s far from downtown.

“In think it’s a 50-50,” says Saunders, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Carolina Sun Real Estate east of the Cooper.

He’s listed his own 1,738-square-foot second home on Waterside Boulevard in Pimlico Plantation, a few miles from Moncks Corner, for $159,900.

As it turns out, Saunders idea of half-and-half is more than favorable.

“I think some people realize they want the quietness, the tight-knit community,” he says. “You’re dealing with a price that’s much more reasonable. There’s an attraction, a good bang for your dollar,” he says, noting that Pimlico showcases a community dock on the Cooper River and a neighborhood playground.

Saunders represents a growing number of homeowners who are either looking to move to the Moncks Corner area or are happy to sing its praises.

The Realtor and owner acknowledges there’s a flip side. To reach most anywhere — a store, restaurant, gas station — “You get in your car, you drive five miles,” he says. Yet shops are no more than 10 minutes away in Goose Creek and central Moncks Corner and some attractions such as Cypress Gardens are even closer.

While the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors groups Moncks Corner with Goose Creek in housing figures, the combined area landed in the top five in a number of categories in 2014 from the year before including up 16.6 percent in new listings, up 19.7 percent in closed sales, up 19 percent in pending sales and up 10.4 percent in average sales price.

Among the not-universally known aspects about Moncks Corner would be the proximity to Pinopolis, an idyllic spit of land bordering Lake Moultrie.

“Isn’t it beautiful? The community is just amazing,” says Marcia Guthrie, agent with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty. She’s listing an oversized home on the lake priced at $1.4 million.

“You can see woods on either side (owned by Santee Cooper),” she says. “You’ve got three secluded deeded acres. It makes it very special up there,” Guthrie says.

She describes the house as “an outdoorsman’s paradise” with a private dock and landing, two outbuildings for boats and sports gear, a gazebo and a more-than-5,000-square-foot home with an in-ground pool and a porch. She says the five bedroom, four-and-a-half bath property is a great spot “to enjoy the abundant wildlife and excellent fishing.”

Architect Laura F. Altman created renderings “showing a large, light-filled kitchen with wonderful views, working island, double oven and eat-in kitchen with a pantry; an updated downstairs master suite; and an ensuite bunkroom,” Guthrie says.

The home, she says is “a special retreat” for family and friends, either as a primary home or a vacation home.

The Pinopolis peninsula, a few miles from Moncks Corner, has been a summer retreat since the 1800s, Guthrie says. “The strong feel of community and family continues today. Many boat landings surround the lake.” Boaters can go through the “Pinopolis Locks” to get to the Tail Race Canal and Cooper River.

The town is in easy driving distance to metro Charleston, Guthrie says.

“I see a definite increase in interest, showings and sales in Pinopolis. It is a very special place with an exceptional quality of life.”

Moncks Corner’s population gains stem from new-home neighborhoods collecting along U.S. Highway 52.

Dan Ryan Builders is among the companies that’s zeroed in on Moncks Corner, nearly closing out Erwinton at Foxbank and down to three homes for sale in Stoney Creek.

“That one sold out really fast,” says Angie Bartku, general sales manager with Dan Ryan Builders in greater Charleston. “The price point was amazing”: Prices started in the mid $150,000s.

The allure revolves around more than just price. “Moncks Corner is just charming,” she says.

Dan Ryan doesn’t have any other neighborhoods ongoing in the Berkeley County seat, but, “We are still interested in looking at land. Moncks Corner will always be important to us. We did extremely well.”

Guthrie says buyers have choices in the Moncks Corner area. “The new neighborhoods are nice. Others are looking for what established communities have to offer. Moncks Corner has both.”

To reach Moncks Corner from downtown Charleston, travel west on Interstate 26 to exit 209A, which is U.S. Highway 52. Follow Highway 52 through North Charleston and Goose Creek and continue for 10 miles or so to the outskirts of Moncks Corner proper. The town also stretches south as far as Cypress Gardens Road.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

Location: Berkeley County

Number of homes: 2,000

Square footage: 702-6,528

Look & feel: Moncks Corner can boast at least three claims to fame: Santee Cooper’s home town, a launching pad to Lake Moultrie and Berkeley County seat. In the past decade or so, the town can add another mark as an increasingly popular place to live. The town annexed southward along U.S. Highway 52 and now estimates a population of around 7,500. Downtown Moncks Corner call fill with traffic on Main Street and other thoroughfares. But get off the main drag and it takes on a sleepy town feel, with moderate sized houses on quiet tree-lined streets. At the same time, new-home neighborhoods such as Foxbank Plantation and Spring Grove are springing up in the town limits as far south as Cypress Gardens Road. The outskirts of town sport large homes on the Cooper River and semi-resort lake properties at Pinopolis to the northwest and Bonneau to the north.

Homes on market: 640

List prices: $29,900-$1.4 million

Schools: Berkeley, H.E. Bonner, Whitesville elementary; Berkeley Intermediate; Berkeley, Macedonia middle; Berkeley Alternative, Middle College and Berkeley high.

Fun facts: The town of Moncks Corner, which dates to 1735, says on its website that landowner Thomas Monck founded the town and bestowed the name, although there’s still a theory that the name derived from the Trappist Monastery at Mepkin Abbey not far away; in 1882, Charleston County was split up — with Mount Pleasant moving to Berkeley County as the county seat — but just six years later, Moncks Corner took over as county seat and Mount Pleasant returned to Charleston County.