Realtors see Kiawah sales as a positive sign

Despite the slowing real estate market, Kiawah Island has proven to be an attractive place to live.

Even though the total isn't compared with prior periods to show if it's up or down, $66.5 million in home sales in one month is quite a lot, any way you slice it.

That's what Kiawah Island Real Estate posted in April, and the chief of the largest real estate agency on the island sees the sales total as an encouraging sign in a slow housing market.

Close to one-third of the monthly sales came in one hour, when seven homesites sold for $19 million at The Settlement, a new neighborhood. In all there were 28 property transactions in the month, says Sis Reda, of Kiawah Development Partners.

The strong sales month followed a first quarter decline of 44 percent in dollar volume compared with the same period of 2007.

"Our spring sales activity has been very strong. We are very excited about the results for the month," says Chris Drury, president of Kiawah Island Real Estate.

"This is a hopeful sign that the Charleston area market is beginning a recovery," Drury says. "The recent sales suggest that buyer confidence is returning, and that this confidence is spreading to all segments of the area real estate market in the coming months, perhaps to regional and national markets."

Values of Kiawah Island properties have continued to rise across the board, says Drury, and the trend is most apparent in high-end home sales. The median price of homes sold in 2007 increased nearly 4 percent compared with 2006.

Although the luxury home market has seen some decline, it has not trended downward as significantly as other real estate categories, Reda says. Real estate professionals are closely watching sales here and elsewhere in the region, she says.

"What I am hearing throughout the Southeast is that traffic is up substantially," says Diana Permar, a real estate market consultant and president of Permar Inc. "Sales performance in a number of markets in recent weeks is encouraging," says Permar, who's an adviser on a number of large residential and resort properties in the Southeast.

Kiawah Island Real Estate, an affiliate of Kiawah Development Partners, is the exclusive broker for new developments on the island and also is involved with hundreds of resales, from undeveloped homesites to single- family homes, cottages and villas. In 2007, the company handled more than 84 percent of Kiawah Island single family home sales.

Kiawah Development Partners is also master developer of Kiawah Island, a 10,000-acre sea island. Other subsidiaries include The Kiawah Island Club, which encompasses the Tom Fazio-designed River Course golf course and Tom Watson-designed Cassique course; The Beach Club; Sasanqua, a members-only spa; and Freshfields Village retail center. For more information, visit kiawahisland.com or contact Reda at sis_reda@kiawahisland.com or 768-6529.