Water ways

Boat slips on the Folly River are rising in value. The marina sales are part of a price jump among waterfront properties in the Charleston area.

If one sale exemplifies Charlestonians thirst for waterfront properties, this might be it. A house on Cove Avenue on Sullivan’s Island sold not so long ago for $2.5 million. As part of the arrangement, the home will be torn down and a new dwelling built in its place.

“Realtors were shocked,” says Walter Mueller, agent with Seaboard Real Estate & Financial Services, who is familiar with the property. “At $2.5 million, they effectively were buying a lot.”

Mueller says price doesn’t always matter when the highest of high-end properties on rivers, lakes, creeks and ocean are in play. “Everything’s got a cap,” he says. But, “there are people who see what they want and buy it.”

The Realtor lists a house a block or two away at 1408 Thompson Ave. with a dock on Cove Creek for $2,970,000. Mueller says what’s different about the Thompson Avenue property from the Cove Avenue residence — which he acknowledges is “modest” in size and scope — is it sports a luxury design and is in “great shape.” Built in 1997, the residence rises two stories, boasts cathedral ceilings and features a long back porch.

At the same time, Mueller, noting he’s dropped the price of 1408 Thompson Ave. slightly since it went on the market, acknowledges he still can’t determine the exact dollar figure for a sale. “In this category, Sullivan’s Island, creekfront, you don’t know the value,” he says.

Mueller’s experiences shed light on the swelling demand for properties on sprawling lakes, tidal rivulets, flowing rivers, still ponds, elongated canals and the granddaddy water basin of them all, the Atlantic Ocean.

“I think people who have money are starting to spend it, especially in the luxury (real estate) market,” says Vince Perna, agent with Dunes Properties. “I have seen demand pick up but not out of control.”

Perna is the listing agent for 310 E. Huron Ave., a five-bedroom, 1,980-square-foot home with deep water dock at Folly Beach priced at $929,000. “I would say primarily $1 million is expected” for deep water, dockable properties on Folly, with the prices dipping to $750,000 on Little Oak Island and other places just north of the beach and Folly River area, he says.

The agent specializes in Folly Beach properties, including popular second home condominiums on the river. There are many out-of-town owners, he says, who choose Folly as their home base for vacation-like boating trips to the Caribbean and Florida.

The waterfront market likely will see more seven figure sales going forward, Perna says. Yet, it wasn’t so long ago that just the opposite took place. “We are coming out of the depths when no one was spending $1 million,” he says.

Even today, not all waterside land and homes are priced at ethereal levels.

Helene Settle, associate with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty, has shown unit 5-B at 204 Sans Souci to potential buyers. The condo neighborhood hugs the Ashley River at the western edge of Wagener Terrace.

“They are very reasonable,” Settle says. The price tag for condo 5-B is $245,000. “How much can you buy on the water (at that price), especially on the peninsula?” she says. The condo’s “definitely” waterfront. “When you open the front door, it’s right there,” Settle says.

Waterfront properties further inland tend to be more moderate price wise. For instance, Becky Armstrong of Carolina Properties at Lake Marion in Santee publicizes eight cottages and smaller homes from $230,000 to $499,000. All of the houses, as well as a number of condos priced from $164,900 to $199,900, are waterfront on Lake Marion, which is close to Interstate 95.

Another type of waterside property looking to rebound from the Great Recession of the late 2000s involves boat slips at Charleston area marinas.

“We have all different sizes,” says Bill Pesce, who with a partner through CBCT Properties is marketing 29 slips at Mariner’s Cay Marina on the Folly River. “Actually we got an offer (on one),” he noted earlier this week.

Slips, the bordered places for boat docking, cost from $13,400 for a small vessel to $29,000 for a 60-foot yacht. In many cases, buyers can purchase a slip and a good-sized boat combined for less than $50,000, he says.

The Mariner’s Cay homeowners association doesn’t allow “live-a-boards,” he says, but boat owners can stay up to three days at a time.

“I’m very excited,” Pesce says, noting that sales are picking back up. “These slips at Mariner’s Cay sold at $80,000 in the past.” The present rate is “a very good price.”

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