By Terri Seignious, Broker In Charge, Luxury Simplified Real Estate
Unicorns. Do they exist? I don’t know, maybe. What I do know is that some people are looking hard to find a real estate unicorn and sometimes, just sometimes, we have them for sale. When it comes to waterfront property in Charleston SC, there are so many options - beach, tidal creek, deep water, marshland. Understanding what you can expect to pay for waterfront property will make sure you're not setting out to find a unicorn.
One example: The other day, I received a call from a very nice woman regarding a property she was looking for in the Charleston area. She gave me her list of very specific property needs. I do love a list, and the more specific the better.
Her needs were: 5 - 7 acres (10 would be better), a ranch house about 2,500 sq. ft. with a minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, a barn for 4 - 6 horses, no more than 20 minutes from downtown and it needs to be on WATER.
Next question: What is your budget for this project? No more than $250,000.
The good news is that I was not driving at the time. I surely might have rear-ended someone. Not to be disrespectful, but that is a unicorn.
As most of our readers know, Charleston has become one of the most popular real estate destinations in the country. Our highest priced properties tend to be a) in the historic district, b) on the beach and, c) on the water. Realistically, if I could find the specific product she was looking for, she would need to spend close to $1M, and depending on the house, acreage, trees, and water depth it might be closer to $3M.
Waterfront properties close to downtown Charleston are obviously at a premium because everyone loves to visit the city for our incredible restaurants, nightlife, shops, theaters and more. So, what does $1M (or close to that) actually buy on the water in and around Charleston?
Within the category of properties considered "waterfront" let's set aside "beachfront" for this exercise. Living on the beach does not usually provide a private dock, with your boat sitting at the end of it, and for that reason, it offers up a completely different water lifestyle - so we'll save that for a different blog.
Currently there are 43 active listings described as “deep water” ranging in price from $900,000 - $1,200,000. Time on the market varies from 13 days to well over 500 days. There are several condos in that group at the Bristol condominiums close to downtown Charleston which has a very large deep water dock. And several condos on Daniel Island which also have a deep water dock right on the Wando River. If you're looking for your own deep water escape, 1168 Pilot Boy is an elegant, lowcountry home tucked along the Wadmalaw Sound, featuring a deep water dock, 4 bedrooms, and over 3 acres.
Deep water definitions can vary, but most agents consider deep water to mean that there is at least 4 - 6 feet of water at the end of the dock at dead low tide. It can certainly be more, but deep water does not mean just mud when the tide is all the way out. Buyers need to be very specific about the water depth they need, and active in making sure they check the advertised water depth during any inspections. These deep-water listings are all around Charleston. Some are as far out as Edisto so ask an experienced agent to get you oriented on locations if you are not from the area.
At this time there are 38 active “tidal creek” residential listings ranging in price from $900-$1,200,000. These are properties that usually have no water at the end of the dock at dead low tide. These range from 16 days on the market to, again, over 500. The Tides Condominiums have several condos in that group.
The types of homes on waterfront property in Charleston SC are all over the map. Some are older and need renovation and some are brand new construction. The most desirable waterfront property is usually going to be deep water because of the ability to maneuver boats in and out on all tides. If water depth is not an issue, views from many tidal creek homes can be stunning and typically there is a lot more acreage available on a tidal creek.
Every now and again a unicorn will also pop up. One such house on a gorgeous 11 acres of tidal creek overlooking the Wadmalaw Sound recently sold for far below its true market value. It sold for $1,192,000 and was an absolute bargain considering its location, water views, house quality, and extensive landscaping. This was an admitted “fire sale” by the owner and the buyer was in the right place at the right time. It can happen.
Note: Connect with a knowledgeable agent who can keep an eye out for those bargains, but be prepared to act quickly if they come along. That property mentioned above was on the market for less than a week! Having an experienced agent acting on your behalf that is aware of all options coming on market will help you find the right property that best matches the kind of waterfront lifestyle you've been dreaming of.