The median price of a home in the Charleston area is around $400,000, which is $50,000 more than a year ago and $120,000 more than before the pandemic.
So where can a potential buyer expect to find a home in the area for that amount of money and what will they get?
For the most part, longtime Lowcountry real estate experts say forget about looking on the Islands, the Peninsula, or Mount Pleasant, though someone could stumble upon a condominium or townhouse at that price.
Also, a search for single-family homes inside Interstate 526 will yield few options in this price range.
For $400,000, a housing seeker will have to walk the outer perimeter of the Charleston metropolitan area. This means that Jedburg, Ridgeville, Moncks Corner and west of Summerville are the best hunting grounds.
“You can definitely find a home at the median sale price in the Ridgeville and Jedburg areas,” said Will Jenkinson, broker-in-charge of Carolina One New Homes of Charleston. “New homes sell for $300,000 to $400,000.”
He also said the more affordable areas of Mount Pleasant could offer three-bedroom condominiums or an entry-level townhouse between $300,000 and $400,000.
“There’s not much there,” Jenkinson said. “It’s out there, but it’s harder to find. There’s a very limited supply of products in that price range.”
He pointed to less than a month’s supply of homes under $400,000 across the metro area.
Jenkinson suggested foster seekers look west of the Ashley River plantations to southern Dorchester County, west of Summerville and beyond Goose Creek to developing areas near Moncks Corner .
Agreeing with Jenkinson is Owen Tyler, chief broker and broker in charge of real estate company The Cassina Group of Mount Pleasant.
“For that price, you’ll be more placed in a condo in West Ashley, a house in North Charleston, and a house or condo near Summerville,” Tyler said. “Anything beyond (Interstate) 526.”
Like Jenkinson, he pointed to the developing fringes of the Charleston metro area — Cane Bay, Foxbank and Nexton — for single-family homes priced near the median.
He noted two resale homes recently for sale near the median price in West Ashley in the communities of Grand Bees and Carolina Bay off the Savannah Highway, both off I-526.
They offered three bedrooms and two bathrooms with an average area of 1,600 square feet.
He said a 2,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch home off Dorchester Road in the Cedar Grove development in North Charleston fell within the median price range.
Tyler also cited a listing for a new construction home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and 2,000 square feet in Summerville around the price range.
Other available inventory close to the housing cost measure, he said, could be found at Goose Creek and Moncks Corner.
The median home price in the Charleston metro area has risen steadily this year, hitting a record high of $425,000 in May. The price in June slipped to $420,000 and in July to $399,000.
According to Jon Stroud, president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, the double whammy of escalating real estate prices and rising borrowing costs is keeping some potential buyers out of the market.
Yet demand is high as stocks remain scarce.
Recent homebuyer Kelly McCowen knows this all too well.
almost sold out
Two years ago, the Atlanta resident decided to make the Lowcountry her new home.
While visiting her sister in the area, McCowen began by looking at townhouses on Johns Island and Mount Pleasant. She thought she could find something for $250,000, but there wasn’t much available.
She then began to look at the houses.
“I looked at houses everywhere,” said McCowen, who works from home as a senior production manager for a global company. “I was looking at the cost and the community. It didn’t have to be exceptional but livable. Everything I wanted had a sale pending. I was very disappointed.”
She was looking as far away as Summerville, but wanted to be closer to Charleston and the beaches.
Then her sister suggested she visit a new community called Sarah’s Court in the village of Bowen, near Tanner Plantation Boulevard in North Hanahan.
She saw a sign that said the houses were selling for around $200,000. It was exactly two years ago.
She spoke to a mortgage lender, qualified for a $320,000 loan, and bet $2,500 on land. By the time construction began in early 2022, the price of materials had risen dramatically, including wood which quadrupled in early 2021.
“I almost didn’t get in because the material costs went up and the lot premium went up,” she said. “Everything went up. I went back to the lender last year and said, ‘What’s my maximum?'”
McCowen was approved for $380,000. She locked in a 30-year mortgage at 4.125% in February, closed the house five months later and paid $398,355 for the house after depositing around $27,000. She moved into the 3-bedroom, 3½-bathroom home last month.
“I know I’m maxed out, but I wanted more of an adult, active community,” McCowen said as she cut ingredients for homemade pizza. “For me, walking and community were important. The amenities here are amazing. I can walk to the grocery store. I feel like I can ride my bike through the streets and feel safe.”
Stabilize the market at a high price
As for pricing, Jenkinson thinks the market is stalling at an accelerating pace after experiencing a COVID period of record sales.
“I think the market is trying to recover from this big top or run that we had,” Jenkinson said. “We tend to exceed 2019 numbers.”
So far this year, the area has seen 12,210 home sales. That’s down 11% from last year, but 15% more than in 2019.
Tyler also said the market was stabilizing, but the product was selling “in a relatively quick time.”
“For a buyer trying to get into a house, it’s always expensive and always difficult because of the buying power,” Tyler said. “If you’re selling, you also want that much money for your house, because the cost of the other house you’re buying is now higher.”
Rising prices and rising interest rates may have pushed some potential buyers away, but demand has only waned slightly in the face of a scarcity of available housing stock.
“People have to have a place to live,” Tyler said. “That’s why we’re not going to see a price drop in the Charleston area.”