Sitting Pretty: Rebounding economy and rekindled out-of-state demand fueling luxury home sales across greater Charleston, state

Located across from Dock Street Theatre, 132 Church St. lists for sale for $3,275,000. It's among hundreds of seven-figure luxury properties on the market in the Charleston area (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).

If one house for sale exemplifies Charleston's historic district, 132 Church St. would be it.

The residence sits slightly north of Broad and carries a rarefied name, the Douxsaint-Macauley House. The 5,500-square-foot property with four bedrooms and four baths can claim a lineage, tracing its roots to 1796-1800.

Like many downtown homes, the property possesses a two-bedroom carriage house behind the main dwelling, says Anna Zevenhuisen of Handsome Properties.

In addition, 132 Church St. boasts noteworthy neighbors. The house rises "almost directly across from the Dock Street Theatre," she says. And it's close to the Powder Magazine, French Huguenot Church and St. Philip's Episcopal Church, listings note.

Venture a guess on the asking price? Try $3,275,000. While high, the figure places 132 Church St. among 570 houses on Charleston Trident Association of Realtors' online property search site fitting the same price description of $1 million to $3.5 million.

Luxury homes - whether historic, waterfront, in the country, suburbs or downtown - are in many cases hot commodities now.

"So far, we've seen a tremendous uptick in activity especially in the $1.5 million and up range," Zevenhuisen says. "We are seeing a lot of multiple offers, homes not on the market long at all."

According to the Realtors association search, 634 properties list for at least $1 million in the Charleston area. They include 49 homes and estates at $3.5 million and higher and eight properties at $6 million or more. Owners of two luxury homes, one historic and one on the water, are asking for more than $10 million apiece.

That's not say $1 million stands as the luxury cutoff point.

Local agent Charles Baarcke of McAlister Preferred Properties showcases four homes he considers in the luxury class, which range in price from less than $600,000 to close to $3 million.

They're located in four distinct communities and boast a range of perks.

. Priced at $2.9 million, an "exquisitely appointed" 5,000-square-foot beachfront home at 3612 Beachcomber Run on Seabrook Island sports a heated swimming pool and elevator.

. A 2,800-square-foot $1.2 million house at 925 Royall Ave. in Mount Pleasant's Old Village neighborhood showcases four bedrooms and a "large lot with great backyard," he says.

.A "classic James Island brick home" with private dock on Ellis Creek lists for $599,000. The renovated, 2,000-square-foot home at 1830 Cornish Ave. includes three bedrooms.

. Located on Johns Island, a 2,900-square-foot-house for sale for $599,000 has three bedrooms, a third floor bonus room and Stono River views. The residence sits at 1202 Gregorie Commons in Rushland Plantation.

"I think it (the luxury market) is starting to pick up," says Lora Goolsby, agent with Carolina One Real Estate who is handling a Daniel Island house priced at $909,000.

High-end homes are getting more showings, she says. Also, she believes that Boeing executives and other high net worth people are returning to the Charleston area after stints elsewhere.

Daniel Island proves to be an enticing place for out-of-towners because of its architectural review board and other safeguards to protect property values. "The town developed so nicely," Goolsby says.

She's listing 1475 Wando View St. in the Smythe Park neighborhood, close to the Wando River. "Interestingly enough, people want golf (too)," she says. Daniel Island hosts two championship golf courses.

"One other thing about Smythe Park; the (neighborhood) lake." The symphony plays there sometimes, and families enjoy the setting. "There's so many things that don't cost money," she says.

Leslie Turner, Realtor with Handsome Properties, says downtown Charleston's being discovered by the outside world, thanks to media exposure. For instance, Charleston was named to Travel & Leisure's top cities for 2013 in the U.S. and Canada.

"From the nationally recognized restaurant scene, thriving creative arts and tech scenes, and carefully preserved historic district, downtown Charleston offers a rare combination of beauty and charm, walkability, living history and sophistication," she says.

Buyers will pay a premium for "the beauty and convenience of living in cosmopolitan downtown," she says.

Since Jan. 1, there have been 61 home sales of more than $1 million south of the Crosstown - a nearly 40 percent increase from a year ago, Turner says. Seventeen of the sales are more than $2.5 million.

At the same time, 147 million dollar-plus properties are listed for sale south of the Crosstown with prices over $1,000,000.

The high-end boom's not just downtown, either.

"Luxury home sales are also stronger this year in resort communities such as Daniel Island and Kiawah, as buyers there place a premium on the lifestyle those communities offer with their tennis and golf amenities as well as their natural beauty," she says.

Just as people from outside metro Charleston look for luxury second homes here, some Lowcountry residents eye places in neighboring states or in the Upstate.

Already popular with Atlanta and Charlotte residents, The Reserve at Lake Keowee resort in Pickens County has spread its reach.

"We are starting to be discovered in Savannah and Charleston," says Rutledge Livingston, director of sales.

Located on Lake Keowee, the community includes a 200-slip marina, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, tennis, fitness center and miles of walking trails. Lakefront lots are priced at $400,000 to $500,000, while homes on an acre or more run $600,000 to $700,000.

"We are having a good year on the heels on a very good last year," he says. In 2013, the resort closed 52 transactions, the most since 2008.

The community, launched in 2000, is enjoying the fruits of earlier lot purchases. "We've seen 60 homes under construction, easily the most in 14 years," Livingston says.

Luxury homes can be found throughout the Charleston area and beyond. One source for information is the Realtors association online property search at

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or