Outliers – Country homes and estates offer peace and quiet for families, retirees

By Jim Parker

There’s Bennetts Point, Sandy Oaks, Cross, McLeod Creek.

Distinct communities all across the map, from northwest of Lake Moultrie (Cross and Sandy Oaks, which has a fish camp), to almost Edisto (McLeod Creek), they share at least one attribute — rural locales with homes for sale less than an hour from Charleston.

Donna Caldwell, Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate, cited Bennetts Point. Not many people know about the crossroads near the Ashepoo River in Colleton County but that can change. “It’s like a hidden gem; someday it’s going to be discovered,” she says. “It doesn’t take that long to get there.”

Country farms and properties face the disadvantage of trips to town and city even to go shopping or out to eat. Yet they can offer perks such as idyllic surroundings far from traffic and noise and prime places to ride horses, fish, boat and enjoy nature.

At the same time, out-of-the-way communities can turn into closer in towns and suburbs as cities such as metro Charleston spread outward.

“Everything is going the way of Volvo,” says Linda Cable, an agent with Carolina Properties at Lake Marion. The auto plant put the sleepy town of Ridgeville near Interstate 26 along the Dorchester-Berkeley county line on the map.

“Everybody out here, they want to be on the water,” says Cable, who lives in Summerville and drives a couple of times a week to her office in Santee astride Lake Marion. “Really you can live there and go to work (around Charleston). It’s a straight shot down the interstate or (past Cane Bay on U.S. Highway) 176.”

Cable and her husband bought a condominium at Santee, which they enjoy for getaways. “It’s right off the water also. About every other weekend we get up there.” she says.

Sales and price figures don’t offer a totally clear picture of the countryside residential market but give indications of rising demand and somewhat higher values.

Median home price in rural Berkeley County is $145,000 as of 2017, more than four times lower than Daniel Island for instance. But the median value has surged 30.3 percent in the past four years including 9.4 percent between 2016 and last year. Sales plunged 20.9 percent year over year to 149 deals in 2017; just 4 percent involves new construction.

By contrast the St. George and rural Dorchester County midpoint price trails the Charleston area at $127,500, rising 12.2 percent since 2013 including just 1.4 percent last year from 2016. Yet the sales volume between 2016 and 2017 jumped 18.2 to 71 houses, all existing properties.

Meanwhile, once strictly rural settings are showing the most dramatic price and sales climbs. Johns Island to the southwest of Charleston counted 756 transactions in 2017, up 16 percent and its midpoint price has increased 33.6 percent since 2013 to $291,263. The wooded zone once mixed with huge farmland acre attributed 46.7 percent of its growth to new construction — the highest total in the Charleston area. And beyond West Ashley, the Hollywood/Ravenel/Meggett region counted 176 sales, up 8 percent last year from 2016. Of the sales, 34.1 percent involved newly built homes. Home values ballooned in the past four years, showing a region high 75.2 percent price increase to $347,578 last year.

Caldwell lists a home in Stono Ferry, considered on the suburban-rural edge off S.C. Highway 162 in Hollywood. “Stono Ferry is unique (for a country property); it’s got the equestrian center and golf course,” she says.

How about real estate activity in the more removed parts of Hollywood and in Ravenel and Meggett? “It’s slow,” she says. The countryside area is “close (to being a find) but undiscovered. You know. Like Johns Island was (discovered).”

For more information and photos, go to www.postandcourier.com/business/real_estate/jim-parker.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

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Paul Cooper
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