‘Great’ lakes Buyers hooked on boating, fishing, relaxed country life, moderate home prices along Lowcountry’s broad bodies of water

This residence at 1816 Pinopolis Road in Berkeley County displays a wide front porch, outside staircase and nine windows. Priced for sale at $690,000, the property on Lake Moultrie epitomizes the laidback lifestyle and not-outrageous costs of living on a big body of water.

photos by Marie Rodriguez/Special to the post and courier

Grab your sunscreen, brave summer traffic to the ocean and check out homes priced at $1 million or higher. Or, travel inland 30-75 miles, find acres of fresh or brackish water and probe properties costing half to two-thirds below beach front prices.

Those are perks that home shoppers discover when they purchase dwellings and land on area lakes, including the miles-wide Santee Cooper bodies of water — Moultrie and Marion — smaller natural basins such as Flounder Lake, and man-made oases such as The Lakes of Cane Bay.

“I guess it’s more of a country type,” says Dave Carroll, of Brand Name Real Estate, who is listing a five-bedroom house on Lake Moultrie in Pinopolis priced at $510,000. “You don’t have to put up with a lot of congestion like you do at the beach,” he says. Carroll’s son runs a paddle board business in Mount Pleasant at Shem Creek. On the weekends, roads swell with beach goers, as well as sun worshippers, angling for the creek. The lakes, meanwhile, “are more of a small town atmosphere.”

Charleston area home buyers are discovering the advantages of lake living, local Realtors and builders say.

“The market is picking up,” says Jim Berry, agent with Carolina One Real Estate, who is listing a pair of homes in Pinopolis for $859,000 and $690,000. The semi-resort fits on a finger-like strip of land on the southeast corner of Lake Moultrie. “We’ve got more waterfront property (available) than in quite awhile, especially on the deepwater cove side,” he says. The cove separates the Pinopolis stretch of land and the mainland just outside Moncks Corner.

Lake Moultrie’s southern edge stands 25 miles from downtown Charleston, and the northern tip by Cross is maybe double that distance. Yet there are local buyers all around Moultrie and some even further north at Lake Marion.

“We have several people who have moved from Charleston, retirees and (people) who live and commute” to the Charleston area 75 miles away, says Patty Woods, associate with ReMax by the Lake agency in Clarendon County.

The lakes share a history. They were formed in the 1930s when work crews diverted the Santee and Cooper rivers as a power generation project. Woods says you can motor a boat from Lake Marion through a canal to Lake Moultrie and onto the Cooper River to Charleston, a fun trip she says she’s taken many times.

At least 200 homeowners — many transplants — occupy Wyboo Plantation south of Manning, a gated golf course community of customized patio homes on the extreme northern reaches of Lake Marion.

Prices within Wyboo run from $200,000 to $500,000 including the house and lot. “We are a more affordable area,” she says. Just a few years ago, it wasn’t that way. “Lake property has always been in demand, except when prices went sky high. We went through the long bubble. Everything was crazy,” Woods says.

Prices soared as high as $500,000 just for the lots. When the real estate market slumped in the late 2000s, the lake front properties likewise plummeted in value. It’s just now returning to normal. Many buyers are paying cash. “I guess people are looking for a more relaxed pace,” she says.

Another sign that lake living is back in vogue involves home builders constructing neighborhoods on inland properties with wide acreages of water. They’re finding that new-house hunters enjoy the lifestyle, scenery and get-away-from-it-all atmosphere of lake communities.

Florida-based builder Lennar recently started framing a neighborhood at The Lakes at Cane Bay, located off U.S. Highway 176 near Summerville and Goose Creek on the eastern side of Cane Bay Plantation.

“The lake itself is 300 acres. It’s a massive body of water,” says Jason Byham, president of the Coastal Carolina division, which takes in Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

Lennar’s new village is The Coves, a 40-home neighborhood. Kayaks, canoes and small watercraft with electric motors will be allowed on the interconnected lake. Prices run from the mid $200,000s to high $300,000s for the 1,800- to 2,800-square-foot homes. The community will have a swimming pool and cabana. “You pay a little more to be on the lake,” Byham says. At the same time, “You get a little more lifestyle versus square footage.” Buyers decide that “I’d like to have a lake view,” Byham says.

Marcia Guthrie of Daniel Ravenel Sothebys specializes in inland, big water properties, from 60,000-acre Lake Moultrie to moderate-sized Flounder Lake, a tidal saltwater lake with homes and lots in Meggett.

“I see steady increases in the market and the values of homes in Pinopolis,” she says. “Two homes on the Pinopolis Peninsula have sold in the past year that were listed for greater than $750,000. Two homes are currently listed for greater than $750,000,” Guthrie says.

Guthrie’s listing a 5,600-square-foot home at 2205 Pinopolis Road complete with private dock, boat landing and surrounded by woods on two sides. The home, on three acres of deeded land, includes large outbuildings for boats and sports gear as well as a swimming pool. (Most land around the lake is owned by Santee Cooper and leased to homeowners.)

Pinopolis is a historic peninsula, a pine land resort village in the 1800s, that retains a strong feel of family and community, Guthrie says.

“I think everyone wants a house on a lake,” she says. “In South Carolina, you physically can go out any time of the year.”

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