In the spring issue of our magazine, I reported the sale of my listing at 642 Thomas Pinckney Court for $1,580,000. At the time it was the highest priced sale in McClellanville in the last 15 years. Not to be outdone, Oliver Thames sold the house right next door at 650 Thomas Pinckney for $2,100,000 this November. The home was never formally listed but Oliver quietly played matchmaker with the seller and a past client of his in order to close on the most expensive home sold in McClellanville history (with the possible exception of any large acreage plantations that pre-date our MLS).
It’s true that we’re just as likely to be found in snake boots showing acreage in Awendaw or a modest 3-bedroom/2-bath home in Silver Hill. However, we have proven ourselves to be highly-qualified at selling the finest homes in the market as well.
The stock market is hitting all-time highs while interest rates reach new lows. We’re seeing historically low unemployment rates and wages are on the rise. The booming economy is driving a strong real estate market across the country and here in the lowcountry. The market fundamentals suggest things should continue on this pace, other than the routine seasonal dip that we see this time of year.
In McClellanville and Awendaw, market activity for 2019 has followed much of the same stable conditions that we have experienced in 2017 and 2018. The number of homes sold in McClellanville and Awendaw year-to-date is nearly identical to the past two years. We have not seen huge gains in home values, but we also aren’t seeing any losses. We are in a very balanced market without too much inventory (supply) or too many buyers (demand).
The vacant land side of the market tells a different story however. There has been a 36% decline in the number of lots sold year to date compared to the average of the last two years’ sales. The land market has really been on a rally since 2015. The abundant inventory has kept prices from climbing very quickly, but we’re finally starting to see inventory decline. The difference in the number of sales this year compared to the last few is happening at the bottom end of the market. There may be fewer buyers but it’s mostly a factor of being priced out of the market. There is very little that buyers are interested in for under $50k in McClellanville and less than $100k in Awendaw. On paper, there are still plenty of active land listings, but they have been fairly well picked over in the last years, so in reality, there is a shortage of well-priced listings. That being said, it’s a healthy buyer’s market in which people can still pick up land at affordable prices and motivated sellers can find buyers if they’re priced right.
For the purpose of the last article, “Defining Awendaw”, I focused most of the discussion around the blurry line between Mount Pleasant and Awendaw. Paradise Island on the northern shore of the Wando River across from Park West, Carolina Park, and Pepper Plantation creates a myriad of its own complexities. It’s in unincorporated Charleston County with an Awendaw zip code. To distinguish themselves from the existing residents on the east end of the island, developers decided to call the west end of the island “Big Paradise Island” even though there is no physical separation. Paradise Island (the former eastern end) consists of a single gravel road while Big Paradise has stricter covenants, paved streets, curbs, and public waste and water from Mount Pleasant Waterworks.
Paradise Island is a 15+ minute drive from Mount Pleasant through the Town of Awendaw and unincorporated Charleston County known as Woodville. The Town of Awendaw is nowhere close enough to annexing Paradise Island, but oddly Mount Pleasant is able to because it is just across the Wando River. The annexation would be allowed and some residents have made the request citing a desire to go to Mount Pleasant schools. Just one problem, annexation into Mount Pleasant has no bearing on the school district that you fall under. The City of Charleston which long ago “hopped” the Cooper River to annex Daniel Island has stretched all the way around from the west side and is adjacent to uninhabited Cat Island to the west of Paradise Island, and could in theory annex both islands if requested by property owners. One more fun little wrinkle in the puzzle. Paradise Island is part of Awendaw-McClellanville Consolidated Fire District, which is currently building a new fire station just 4 miles from Paradise Island to better serve their needs and lower expensive insurance coverage caused from the lack of nearby fire stations. If residents of Paradise Island went through the annexation process they would no longer receive coverage from this fire department and the closest Mount Pleasant Fire Department is 14 miles away. The closest Charleston Fire Department is 18 miles away.
For what it’s worth, of the 18 active and recently sold listings on Paradise Island, all had the correct 29429 zip code, but 3 incorrectly used “Mt Pleasant, SC” in their address. Two-thirds were improperly designated in area 41, half were incorrectly placed in the “Paradise Island” subdivision that should have been listed in “Big Paradise Island”. Finally, 3 listed the assigned school as McClellanville middle school, which closed over a decade ago, and one incorrectly listed Cario. The internet may have allowed buyers to be just a click away from mountains of real estate data, but what good is that data if it can’t be trusted? You can have great photos of a listing, but if your listing doesn’t show up when it is supposed to because agents aren’t aware of the pertinent details of a property than it is not going to sell.
Since our founding in 2010, MCVL Realty has identified itself as “specializing exclusively in the McClellanville / Awendaw area”. You would think with such a claim that if anyone were to know the Awendaw boundary, it would be us. Unfortunately, the problem is not so much “where” the boundary is, but rather “which” one you want to use!
For the purpose of serving our clients, MCVL Realty doesn’t need to draw a hard line. We gladly include our neighbors to the west, Huger and Jamestown, within our service area as they fall right into the rural niche that we love to serve. It’s a different set of knowledge and marketing skills that go into selling town homes, condos, and cookie-cutter subdivisions if we go further south into Mount Pleasant. We have relationships with a lot of stellar agents that work there that we are always happy to refer your business to. The general rule of thumb for us is if the majority of the residents are wildlife, not humans, then it’s our neck of the woods!
The real trouble comes when conducting real estate searches and pulling statistical data about sales and listings in the area. Awendaw can be defined by zip code, town limits, MLS zone, school district and more. Depending on which one of these methods you choose the results will vary greatly. As an example, there are currently 43 active listings in Awendaw’s zip code while there are only 6 in the town limits.
The US Postal Service introduced zip codes in 1963. The region known as Awendaw, taken from the Seewee Indian tribe, was assigned 29429. One can only assume that the size and shape of the zip codes correlated to mail delivery. They kept the western border fairly close to the Charleston/Berkeley county line, but it still meanders a bit. They extended just a bit northward beyond Awendaw Creek which would have seemed the logical boundary to me. The southern boundary was established in what was largely a no man’s land at the time, miles from the small town of Mount Pleasant and its ~5000 residents. The zip code created a formal boundary of properties that received their mail in “Awendaw, SC 29429”. Since that time zip codes have become an extremely common method of sorting information such as census data, crime statistics, and election poll results but it is reasonable to define an area on a decision made by the postal service more than 50 years ago?
In 1992, residents of Awendaw incorporated into a town and they have been growing those boundaries by annexing more land ever since. The process of annexation requires an adjacent property outside of the jurisdiction to both request to be included and the municipality to vote and agree to accept that property. The Town of Awendaw has chosen not to accept some properties and there are legal disputes challenging the procedural methods used to annex others. All of this means that only a fraction of the zip code is contained within the town limits and most remains as unincorporated Charleston County.
Since mail delivery has no correlation to municipalities, the Town of Mount Pleasant was able to annex properties well into Awendaw’s zip code. In 2016 Mount Pleasant annexed its northernmost territory, the Bulls Bay Golf Club extending from Hwy 17 to the Intracoastal Waterway. You may not recognize this landmark by name even if you travel these roads because the only indication they have on Hwy 17 is a sign consisting of bull horns at their entrance. The Town of Awendaw has annexed southward to this point as well, creating a fairly firm boundary. It is just beyond this point, at the next natural clearing, that a “Town of Awendaw” sign indicates your entry.
The strange disconnect between zip code and municipal boundaries causes a lot of confusion to residents unsure of what ordinances apply to them and which services they are entitled. Charleston County has not helped matters by providing little oversight in the official address that is recorded on tax records. There are residents throughout Awendaw that use “Mt Pleasant, SC 29429” as their mailing address. I don’t think the post office cares if you put Kalamazoo, SC as they go by the zip code. The mere fact that your property records show a Mount Pleasant mailing address has no bearing on anything and I could probably submit my address in McClellanville as Mount Pleasant, SC 29458 with no problem other than occasional delays in mail delivery. In contrast, Bee’s Crossing, D.R. Horton’s latest development on the northern edge of Mount Pleasant has a 29429 zip code. You probably won’t see any mention of Awendaw as they are looking for buyers who desire to be identified as residents of “Mt.P”, nonetheless their mail is routed through the Awendaw post office.
For education purposes, the Charleston County School District lumped McClellanville and Awendaw together into attendance zone 1. I can’t say what factors determined the boundary between this area and zone 2 which serves Mount Pleasant, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind its placement. It includes a few houses on 15 Mile Landing Road behind Seewee Restaurant and then bisects nearly half of Sewee Road with residents on either side of the road zoned for different school districts. These lines became less important with the closing of McClellanville’s Lincoln High School which made Wando the high school serving all of zone 1 and 2. Elementary and Middle School children in zone 1 go to St. James-Santee in McClellanville, but have also been allowed to transfer to Mt. Pleasant schools. Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School (CREECS for short) in McClellanville is not part of Charleston County School District and accepts children from anywhere in the state. Negotiations are on-going for land to build a new high school in Awendaw which would result in redrawing of attendance zones and it is likely that children in northern Mount Pleasant will be driving past Wando to attend this new school. The land may also include room for a new future elementary and/or middle school as well.
School districts may play an important part in the real estate process for many, but I also took the time to explain this because it just so happens that our local MLS chose to copy the school attendance zone when they created area “47-Awendaw/McClellanville”. The average person doesn’t know or care about which MLS area they live, so in that regard it has no bearing on our lives. They are, however, a vital method for agents to sort listing quickly. It just so happens that much of the real estate data is provided to us only by MLS area, so from that standpoint, this becomes yet another way to define Awendaw.
It’s important to understand that real estate agents are responsible for entering the area, city, and subdivision that a new listing is placed in. We are given the boundaries and the system all but does it automatically and yet there is still a lot of inaccuracies in what is entered. Some errors come from all of the previously mentioned confusions such as the city name shown on the county records being incorrect, but as around one third of the listings are entered incorrectly I believe that most are done purposefully. Mt. Pleasant is a larger area and has more people searching within it, so some agents think that entering an Awendaw listing in the city of “Mt. Pleasant” or area of “41-Mt Pleasant North of IOP” is going to get their listing bonus traffic. The frequencies of these errors increase with the dollar value of the property leading me to believe that people feel the Mt. Pleasant name also carries more prestige than Awendaw. In reality, mislabeling properties only makes it more difficult for agents that are legitimately looking for Awendaw properties to find them.
Due to the importance of these MLS areas for statistical data, I made a formal request to the board of our MLS in 2016 to adjust the boundaries. Despite ALL of the previously mentioned boundaries, my suggestion was to redraw the lines based on yet another factor. I proposed that there was a significant observable distinction between rural and suburban neighborhoods that fell between zip code boundaries and the town limits. The neighborhoods of Paradise Island, Pepper Plantation, Sewee Preserve, and Bulls Bay Golf Course had features that are more commonly pursued by buyers looking for rural property, while Carolina Park and Park West were certainly more suburban. Copahee Sound is a strange mix of both, but with Mount Pleasant zoning it will certainly become more and more suburban. The MLS board reviewed my recommendations and agreed to implement them a few months later. So here I am, complaining about the vast number of ways to define Awendaw and rather than fix the problem, I added one more to the stack. The truth is that these really aren’t problems and they can’t be fixed. They are what they are and create confusion and obstacles, but the solution is to work with agents that are knowledgeable about subjects like this which effect the real estate process.
Three years after the shift in MLS boundaries real estate agents aren’t doing much better properly assigning listings to the correct area. The MLS provided us with a better mapping tool to show agents where the MLS areas were located, but it still escapes some of us. Currently 40 out of 98 listings that belong in area 47 are incorrectly labelled as area 41 and won’t be counted located in these searches or count in any statistical data greatly skewing the data.
The data below shows the vast difference between the variously defined areas known as “Awendaw” and highlights a need for a consistent standard to avoid grossly skewed data and conclusions. As an agent that specializes in this market, it is my job to be constantly researching the market to stay on top of every listing and sale. Labeling irregularities make this job harder, but can also harm appraisers abilities to find the comparable sales that they rely on so heavily. More than anything these mislabeled properties hurt the sellers of these properties. The MLS is full of expired listings located in Awendaw but labelled as Mount Pleasant that would have surely garnered much more attention if labelled correctly. It’s not uncommon for us to get calls from owners wanting to relist their property and we aren’t even able to find it in the MLS. Of course it didn’t sell if the #1 real estate office isn’t even aware of it how are we supposed to pass it along to all of our buyer clients?
We live in a world where all of the knowledge of the world is a few keystrokes away on a device that we can carry around in our pocket. Anything you can imagine can be ordered and delivered to your door within two days. There is a near-infinite amount of streaming content to entertain us. We know more about “friends” we haven’t seen since college than some of our own family members. Your gourmet coffee maker can brew an individual cup of coffee that’s ready for you when your alarm goes off, your fridge can add milk to your shopping list, an automated robot vacuums your house when you walk out the door, Alexa can adjust the temperature in your house or suggest an umbrella if there is a chance of rain, and your car tells you a better route to take to work because of a wreck. There is an abundance of convenience at our home and in the cities we are surrounded by options for local shopping, dining, entertainment, high-speed internet, cable, employment, schools, housing, and more. We also know that these modern conveniences come at a cost. As we’ve witnessed in nearby Mount Pleasant, which has been one of the fastest growing cities in the US since the downturn in the economy, people flocking to the area to enjoy these conveniences have brought with them a higher cost of living and housing, 24/7 traffic jams, out of control homeowners association rules and costs, and a departure from traditional Southern values.
Just up the road in “L.A.” (that’s Lower Awendaw), residents get a taste of affordable houses with a little space between them and their neighbors with just a short drive to many of these aforementioned conveniences. The farther you drive north, the farther these conveniences get and the more often I am asked by buyers “Where do you do your grocery shopping?”, “What is internet service like?”, or “What do people around here do for fun?”. These are fair questions. Questions from someone who has lived a life of convenience. My wife was one such person who gave me a puzzled look when I explained that where I grew up I had to drive 30 minutes to see a movie or buy groceries and she’s now called McClellanville home since 2006. These type of questions really get to the heart of measuring the conveniences of someone’s current life to an unknown life they may experience if they decide to pull the trigger and move outside of the hustle and bustle of city life.
I’ll be the first to admit that this “alternative lifestyle” is not for everyone. If you can’t survive without a Starbucks umbilical cord, it may be a rough transition. It took my wife some time to adjust after living in a city her whole life. Buyers willing to step outside of their comfort zone and discover true country life in Awendaw, McClellanville, and the surrounding rural areas, begin to learn that there is more to life than modern conveniences. When you skip the drive-thru window and sit down in a local restaurant you meet neighbors and form lasting relationships. When you stop cutting down every tree in sight to build homes you start co-existing with nature and witness it in your own back yard. When you get rid of all the traffic you can actually enjoy the peace and quiet and make it more enjoyable to walk, bike, or even take a golf cart for a spin. When your beaches are only accessible by boat you find a sanctuary with miles of uninhabited shell-covered beaches for yourself. When you trade your planned parks and paved “nature trails” for hundreds of thousands of acres of protected forests you witness the glory of nature. When you’re out of sugar or eggs you ask your neighbor rather than going to the store. You take a step toward self-sufficiency where conveniences take a back seat to things, meaning-of-life kind of things, that you might have missed if you were sitting at the drive-thru or staring at a phone.
I’ll leave you with this final thought that I enjoy sharing with visitors to the area that may sound odd coming from a real estate agent trying to “sell the area”: Nobody HAS to live in McClellanville! There is no Boeing or Volvo factory attracting workers that have to live nearby. Housing isn’t incredibly affordable and there isn’t a fantastic public transportation system ready to whisk them to work. Our school system isn’t ranked #1 in the country (but check out CREECS, we love it). There are even times that the mosquitoes will dang near carry you off (rare, but it happens). If we “solved” all of those problems, we wouldn’t be the unique community that we are today. You see, it’s these inconveniences that help us keep it just the way we like it. It sorts out the people who can truly appreciate everything that the area has to offer and place a higher value on these resources. These people, whether they were born here or just moved here yesterday, are the key to fighting for its preservation for future generations.
Fear of growth and development is on the minds of Bulls Bay area residents as urban sprawl creeps outward from Mount Pleasant (watch the growth of the area using the Growth Tool below). Builder D.R. Horton has begun work on their latest development known as Bee’s Crossing which plans to squeeze 90 homes onto 32 acres. While the postal service originally issued this area an Awendaw zip code, it has long been annexed by the Town of Mount Pleasant and is located in what is now commonly called “North Mount Pleasant”. Traveling further north, you encounter the low-density communities of Sewee Preserve followed by the Bulls Bay Golf Club. This is the farthest property annexed by the Town of Mount Pleasant and the beginning of the Town of Awendaw, the proverbial line in the sand.
Mt. Pleasant has recently passed legislation limiting the number and type of building permits that will be issued each year. Those fed-up with the growth of Mount Pleasant (every one that I have talked to) see it as too little, too late. While it will have a slight effect on slowing growth in their area, Awendaw may actually be more affected by the passage of this bill. Developers that were perfectly content with continuing to squeeze housing projects into the few remaining spaces in Mt. Pleasant are going to have to sideline some projects for future years and look outside of Mt. Pleasant for greener pastures. The abundant land in Awendaw seems to be just what they are looking for.
Awendaw’s residential zoning hinges on the presence of public water or sewage which permits a minimum lot size as small as 0.29 acres while it reverts to 0.69 acres without them. The Town of Awendaw has put in place a small public water system with lines running outward from its town hall water tower. To make the project financially feasible it must really be scaled to many more customers. Public sewage has also been discussed with the latest negotiations to incorporate the system in with the building of public schools and a residential development and have the final treated effluent dispersed in the town’s park.
The difficulty of public utilities in Awendaw lies in its decentralized rural nature. While McClellanville formed along the banks of Jeremy Creek and grew outward gradually as a more centralized community, Awendaw has large swaths of the Francis Marion National Forest slicing through it. There is also a large amount of land which has been strategically preserved from development through the placement of conservation easements. However, there also exist numerous large acreage tracts that have been patiently growing pine trees and waiting for the demand that seems to be building.
Developers have broken ground on a new development called Awendaw Village. The proposed 1/2 acre lots sparked concern but on closer inspection, the overall density of the community turns out to be less than 1 home for every two acres because of green spaces and wetlands. The developer is beginning with just 14 of 41 planned homes in the first phase. Chalk it up as a “win” for the type of controlled growth that could maintain the rural way of life, but this hundred-acre tract is dwarfed in comparison to some of the larger undeveloped parcels. If any of these other tracts were allowed to be developed at close to 1/4 acre-sized home sites it could double the population of the town and forever transform the rural face of Awendaw. Most of the residents that I know are opposed to this transformation and taking a stand against the uncontrolled growth they witnessed in Mount Pleasant. Organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Coastal Conservation League have also joined in to prevent disruption in this keystone community situated between the National Forest and the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge.
In contrast to Awendaw’s zoning, unincorporated Charleston County surrounding Bulls Bay provides for mostly 1 home for every 1 to 10 acres and the Town of McClellanville allows for only 1 home per acre or 3/4 acre in the Historic District. McClellanville is also blissfully encumbered by its geographic distance from the growth of the Charleston Metro area and separated by larger undevelopable tracts of the Francis Marion National Forest. The residents, town council, and mayor are unified with a preservationist mindset and a consolidated effort to reject public sewer and water, multi-family and high-density zoning. There are certainly some larger tracts of land that will be subdivided and vacant lots between homes which have slowly been filling in with homes, but the underlying zoning and mood of the community working together gives hope against it losing its small-town feeling.
That title may not make sense to everyone so let me define a couple of terms here. A “Spec Home” is one built as a speculative venture. It is a new construction home built for sale by the builder without having a specific buyer in mind and is sold for profit. “C.O.” stands for Certificate of Occupancy and is the document granted when a home passes its final building inspection; in other words, it has been approved to be lived in.
In 2018, MCVL Realty entered into a listing agreement with Longfield Residential to list for sale a spec home they were to construct in McClellanville. While Awendaw has seen many spec homes built and sold, this was a big deal in McClellanville because the last spec home built was listed for sale in 2007 but never sold by the builder due to the downturn in the economy. Sadly, the bank ended up foreclosing on the builder’s home before finally selling it in 2010 for significantly less than the builder had put into the beautiful home. We explained these facts to the father and son builders, Daes and McLain Manning, but convinced them that the market was ready for this type of property as well as the success others were having in Awendaw. Oliver Thames assisted them in locating and acquiring the land at 325 Mercantile Road as well as the features and pricing of the project. The property was initially listed using only home plans, but once the home was close enough to completion that people could tour the property interest really began to build. Oliver hosted multiple open houses in these final stages and was ultimately able to sell the home for $540,000 before the home was even completed and the C.O. issued.
The relevance of this from a builder and investor standpoint is that once a home is finished and has not sold it is costing them money and tying up their resources. We look forward to working with Deas and McLain on future projects and would love to work with other great builders. If you aren’t a builder but would like to invest in speculative building in the area we are happy to help match you with local builders and assist in that manner.
On March 25th, 2019, 642 Thomas Pinckney Court sold for $1,580,000. The property was listed by Daniel Bates of MCVL Realty and went under contract after 24 days on the market. Excluding large acreage plantation tracts, this is the second highest valued sale in McClellanville history topped only by the previous owners purchasing this same home new in 2005. It was purchased at that time for $1,695,000 showing that the luxury market has done well to recover since the downturn. Prior to the sale, MCVL Realty managed the property as a vacation rental known as “Point of View” and the new owners will continue to welcome vacation renters through MCVL Realty.
The home features 6 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms but its greatest asset is the most incredible view that I have ever seen from a property in my life! As I wrote in the listing description, “Resting at the confluence of Jeremy Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway, this lowcountry home offers breath-taking panoramic views of the protected creeks, marshes, and barrier islands that make up the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge and Bulls Bay. Enjoy the daily passage of shrimp boats on their journey down Jeremy Creek and out Five Fathom Creek to the Atlantic ocean and back again with their day’s haul each evening, as well as yachts and sailboats traveling on the ICW.”
As I write this report we have yet to have that perfect week with temperatures above 70° that typically marks the official spring real estate rally. In truth, there really hasn’t been a tremendous seasonal slowdown, to speak of. The market just kept humming along right through winter but I expect that we are on the verge of things really heating up just as soon as the temperature does! Despite the political dysfunction in Washington we’re experiencing record low unemployment and high consumer confidence. The stock market is said to be on the longest bull run in US history with the Dow Jones quadrupling in the last 10 years, but it has wavered in recent months. US real estate markets have also been consistently appreciating during this same 10 year period. Some coastal markets, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York have seen such rapid appreciation that outpaced wage increases that it has finally led to stagnant growth and even declines in the form of a market correction.
Regionally, the Charleston Metro area has seen healthy market increases led by Mount Pleasant, which has been one of the fastest growing cities in the US since 2009, but it too has been experiencing a market slow down and pricing push-back. Comparing year-to-year sales in Mount Pleasant from 2017 to 2018 we see that the average sales price increased 5% but the number of sales decreased by 8% despite roughly the same amount of new listings in each year.
It’s hard to compare markets as diverse in size as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and McClellanville/Awendaw, but one measuring stick we can use is to look at the number of “months of inventory” in each market. This data takes the total number of listings in an area and divides it by the number of sales in that area in a given month. It’s basically a gauge of supply and demand, so a high number of months of inventory would tell you that there is a large supply of property with limited demand resulting in a buyer’s market. A low number of months of inventory would tell you that the demand is high and indicate a seller’s market. The chart shows the average annual months of inventory in each market over the last decade. In 2009, the market was at its worst and we had a backlog of properties listed for sale and nobody to buy them. As the market improved you can see that all 3 markets saw improving months of inventory. Charleston leveled off between 2016 and 2017 and then actually increased last year. Mount Pleasant has been ever-so-slightly inching up each of the last 3 years indicating that their market has been slowing down. In McClellanville and Awendaw the number of months of inventory continues to decrease showing a strong and healthy market.
As a sub-market, we often see that our indicators are trailing behind those that we see in the rest of the Lowcountry, which itself is typically trailing major markets on the west coast, Florida and the northeast. The Bulls Bay area has still not fully rebounded to the pre-recession property values, but this moderate “slow and steady wins the race” market appreciation also means that buyers can still find value in our market and that we’re less likely to experience any market corrections. Awendaw continues to show stability with a balanced market providing land and homes at prices that buyers are willing to pay but clear push-back on unrealistic listing prices. In McClellanville, the vacant land market has been demonstrating a recent flurry of activity after little growth over the last few years. Home values continue to appreciate with homes under 1500 sq.ft. fetching record prices. In both McClellanville and Awendaw there is a clear favor for newer and updated homes fetching a significantly higher price while homes with deferred maintenance are showing longer days on market to find the right buyer.
The massive growth and change in appearance of Mount Pleasant from a small town to a bustling city has had the unintended consequence of driving a lot of residents out of town. We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of buyers coming from Mount Pleasant to our market over the last 3 years and they now represent roughly half of our buyer pool. They are trading traffic jams for Awendaw Green’s “Barn Jams”, 1/4 acre lots for acreage, and HOA gym cards for back-yard chickens. A strong supply of buyers from a city the size of Mount Pleasant can provide a landslide of
volume for a place with as few listings as McClellanville and Awendaw. These buyers, however, are proving more particular than the average buyer in their preference for turn-key homes with modern finishes. Nearly everyone that we have worked with moving from Mount Pleasant has gained quite a bit of equity in their home and are getting so much more for their money in our market. Should Mount Pleasant experience a market correction it should have little impact on our market because they would still be able to sell for a profit and at the end of the day, Mount Pleasant buyers aren’t moving up or down, they are moving over. They are driven by the fact that they no longer recognize the town they fell in love with.
Another big factor driving sales are the incredibly low interest rates. When I closed on my house last November, I was rushing to lock in an interest rate below 5% and the consensus was that they would keep rising. Fast forward just a few short months and we’re back down in the low 4’s and the Fed chairman has said that there are no plans for rate increases for the rest of the year. Combine these low rates with the high number of buyers in their 20’s and 30’s finding success in the economy and beginning the home-ownership phase of their life and you have a recipe for a successful housing market for the rest of the year.
In August of 2017, MCVL Realty represented the sellers of a waterfront home at 508 Romain Road in McClellanville. The property closed with a sales price of $1.25M,
97% of the 1.29M list price after just 3 months on the market. The average for homes over $1M in the area is 90.8% sale-to-original-list-price ratio and 430 cumulative days on market.
MCVL Realty has sold a majority of the waterfront homes and land in the area in the last 5 years, but this sale set an important mark as the first residential sale in McClellanville over $1 million in a decade and symbolizes a resurgence in the luxury end of the market. This is not to say that there are no other homes in McClellanville in this price range, but this sale’s importance is as a “stepping stone” sale. That is to say, it’s difficult to jump from homes selling in the $6, $7, and $800,000’s to above $1.5M with nothing in between. In fact, since this sale another home in the area sold at $1.35M and MCVL Realty has pocket listings for two other homes above $1.7M from sellers who prefer to maintain their privacy and withhold their properties from the MLS. As the saying goes, you have to crawl before you can walk and this was McClellanville’s luxury market taking its first baby steps in a decade. Now buyers have at least one reasonable comparable sale in the immediate area to provide them confidence in market’s stability and we should see more similar sales in the near future.