House hunters shouldn't come away puzzled when they pass under an avenue of oaks and turn into two-year-old Grand Oaks Preserve. After all, they get to see the whole shebang.

The neighborhood swimming pool is decked, playground padded with natural landscaping, lagoon spouting water from fountains. The 154 townhomes, in clusters of two to four dwellings, are all raised, painted and gussied up.

That's a bit unusual. Often, shoppers see only parts of a new community when they buy because construction is ongoing. Sometimes they acquire their home or unit sight unseen.

But those who purchase now at Grand Oaks Preserve, in Dorchester County just south of Ladson Road, can walk through their choices of dwellings, check out the pool, look over the playground equipment and stroll around the pond.

Developer Ladson Road Investments LLC, an affiliate of Carriage Hill Associates, oversaw the completion of townhome construction, sidewalk paving and the unveiling of amenities in the past year. The move has proven successful; more than 70 percent of the townhomes have been purchased thus far.

The final 41-townhome sales phase launched in late April. "We are selling very quickly," says Linny Manns, Realtor with Carolina One New Homes. Purchasers include families with young children, couples with youngsters off at college or otherwise out of the house, and retirees, including some from the military. "It's a very good mix," Manns says.

Along with being a completed community, Grand Oaks Preserve is valued competitively. The neighborhood offers two designs: the 1,552-square-foot Ashton II priced as low as $133,472 and the 1,682- to 1,685-square-foot Brookmere costing $158,900 or less.

Manns notes the community's central setting, "close to shopping, medical, gas stations." Buyers also like the semi-seclusion: There's no neighborhood to the south. And even while Grand Oaks Preserve is in open spaces compared with the canopied entry, it's hardly devoid of woodsy surroundings. "Everywhere you look are the oak trees," Manns says.

Grand Oaks Preserve offers more than the basics, too, even at a comparatively low-price range. Townhome exteriors are vinyl sided and have shutters of various hues. Patios are optional. Diverse colors set off the interiors, which are airy thanks to large windows and 9-foot ceilings. Units have three bedrooms with at least one bedroom on the first level; walk-in closets and dual thermostats to make it easier to control temperature upstairs and down.

Homeowners association fees of $165 a month pay for a lot of benefits. The services include hazard insurance on the buildings; flood insurance; care of street lights; termite bond and exterior pest control; landscaping; use of pool and playground; trash removal; lawn irrigation; basic cable; and maintenance of roads, lawns, building exteriors, pond, playground and pool.

One evolutionary attraction is the community's neighborliness, even though it's just two years old. "Everybody knows everybody," Manns says.

To head to Grand Oaks Preserve from downtown Charleston, travel west on Interstate 26 to U.S. Highway 78 north, Exit 205-A. Follow Highway 78 to Ladson Road, and turn left. Take Ladson Road for close to four miles to Avenue of Oaks. Turn left, then pass under the oak canopy and turn left at the Grand Oaks Preserve sign.

NEIGHBORHOOD

Grand Oaks Preserve.

LOCATION

Dorchester County.

DEVELOPER, MARKETING

Ladson Road Investments LLC, Carolina One New Homes.

MORE INFO

PHONE: 875-0788.

HOURS: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday.

WEB SITE: grandoakspreserve.com.

TOTAL TOWNHOMES

154.

TOWNHOME SIZES

1,552-1,685 square feet.

TOWNHOME PRICES

$133,472-$158,900.

TYPICAL FEATURES

-- 9-foot smooth ceilings on first floor.

-- Stain-resistant carpet.

-- Kitchen range, dishwasher, 30-inch cabinets.

-- Ceramic tile in foyer.

-- Dual thermostats on main and second floors.

-- Sodded front, pinestraw beds.

-- One-car garage.

PROPERTY TAXES

$829 on a $150,000 townhome.

AREA ATTRACTIONS

Summerville Medical Center, Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, Ashley River, downtown Summerville, Northwoods Mall. plantations and gardens on S.C. Highway 61, area golf courses and Interstate 26.

DISTANCE TO DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON

22 miles.

SCHOOLS

Oakbrook Elementary

Grades K-5; phone, 821-1165; enrollment, 1,076; certified staff, 78; PACT results, 41 percent of fifth-graders scored proficient or advanced on English/Language Arts, 45 percent on math, 45.3 percent on science and 37.7 percent on social studies.

Gregg Middle

Grades 6-8; phone, 871-3150; enrollment, 986; certified staff, 71; PACT results, 22.6 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient or advanced on English/Language Arts, 14.2 percent on math, 32.5 percent on science and 25.7 percent on social studies.

Fort Dorchester High

Grades 9-12; phone, 760-4450; enrollment, 2,552; certified staff, 160; SAT results, 492 verbal and 516 math. The 1008 combined score is higher than the state average (984) and lower than the national average (1017).

HOUSING TRENDS

Dorchester Road corridor below Ladson Road:

-- Number of sales in the first quarter of 2008: 127 (down from 221 in the first quarter of 2007).

-- Average sales price: $213,000 (down from $222,800).

-- Median sales price: $176,000 (down from $201,500).