Oceanfront and Waterfront lots for such low prices. What’s up with that?
There are a number of reasons for the current low prices, creating great buyer opportunities.
- General economic climate. The most obvious, of course, is the general downturn in the real estate market beginning in 2007. It had a huge effect on island sales: in a four year period, only one vacant lot changed hands. Some owners allowed their lots to go into foreclosure, which affected the prices of other lots.
- Inventory. Because we’re such a unique market, there is currently more inventory on the market (including some of those aforementioned foreclosed lots) which pushes prices down. When the developer controlled supply, price could be much higher.
- Ongoing costs. While prices may be low, we’re not a bargain basement kind of place. There are only 150 lot units to bear the costs of island management and infrastructure. We basically run a whole city out here:
- from transportation (ferry, barge, smaller boats, etc.)
- to public safety (Emergency first responder on duty, overnight fire-fighters, fire trucks, emergency vehicles, helicopter landing pad, etc.)
- to hospitality (four suites at the clubhouse, golf carts, intern housing)
- to water (the Dewees Utility Corp is a separate entity, and all owners participate in the costs of pumping, filtering, distributing drinking water. In addition, wastewater is treated using a state-of-the-art, bio-organic series of tanks in a closed loop.
- to trash and recycling (the DUC is responsible for barging trash and recycling off the island.)
- to recreation (swimming pool, tennis courts, nature center, performances, happy hours, programs).
Dewees is a lifestyle decision, and the annual costs are similar to what you would choose when you join a country club, beach club, or yacht club. Many mornings I am alone on a 4 mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean, looking north at other uninhabited islands on the largest stretch of undeveloped beach on the eastern seaboard. My children understand the rhythm of the tides and know the intricate web of nature that surrounds them. In my mind, that is well worth the extra monthly cost.
- Location and Lifestyle appeal to unique buyers. Dewees is only a 20 minute ferry ride from the Isle of Palms, but that can make a big difference for both showing property and lifestyle.
- Location: some buyers feel it’s too remote or that they won’t be able to play golf or get to the incredible restaurants the city has to offer. I can get to some of the best restaurants in town in about 40 minutes, and in an emergency, I made it from the island via public safety boat to MUSC’s emergency room desk in 35 minutes. The convenient hourly ferry runs on a regular schedule, and residents often use their own boats.
- Lifestyle: this is a rather unique way of living.
- The island is entirely in a conservation easement, which means there will never be any stores or restaurants on the island. This means you’ll either become a good planner of logistics or you’ll eat some strange meals. Our active social calendar provides a number of events at the clubhouse, many of which include meals, and there are now lots of great restaurants on Sullivans and the Isle of Palms.
- Gardening is only with native plants unless it’s in containers.
- Our greatest amenity is our natural resources and our privacy.
- Until fall of 2012, the ferry didn’t leave the island before 7:30 am, which limited full time residency to the retired or those with flexible schedules, or those who didn’t need to be somewhere on the mainland until 8:30. Now, the first ferry leaves Dewees at 6:30 am, opening up a world of possibilities for residents. There are several families who live here and send kids to school, and more are arriving or building for the fall of 2017. In addition, people leave the island every day for jobs on the mainland.
- Sometimes people are worried that following a ferry schedule will be too great a challenge. Personally, I love the chance to chat in a relaxed manner with my neighbors on the ferry~ it builds community and creates strong relationships.
- There are some inherent challenges in attracting realtors with buyer clients. Dewees Island is a unique, separate search area in the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. That means that realtors using MLS to find vacant land on the Isle of Palms will not see Dewees listings unless they specifically select Dewees as a search area. In addition, they have to give up an entire morning or afternoon to show a long shot property: since Dewees doesn’t appeal to everyone, this might not be the most efficient use of time. Finally, it’s not seamless for Realtors to visit; they need to work with the ferry schedule and logistics, manage island transportation, and know their way around the island. Consumer search engines are changing all of that: now people in Wild Dunes who wonder about the ferry can pull up several apps on their phone and make an appointment to tour the island.
Will they see such low prices forever?
While there are no guarantees in the world of real estate, the Charleston area is a pretty hot place to live right now, and the statistics show that the Charleston area adds 48 new residents per day. This link from the Charleston Regional Development alliance shows the Charleston area adding 48 residents per day (some of those are born into the population rather than moving here,) and states that the growth outpaces similar metropolitan areas by 3x. Our children attend award winning schools and participate in an incredible array of sports and recreation activities. We have access to world class restaurants and international music and theater. There are lots on Dewees priced at a tenth of what they were in 2003. And those of us who bought then STILL feel like we got a great deal. As inventory shrinks, prices should rise.