Solving the Mystery of Charleston Median Home Prices

Zillow says Charleston Median Home Prices are $234,700.

BestPlaces says it is $212,000.

Even Forbes is claiming it to be $219,800.

So, who would blame you for thinking Charleston is quite affordable when you are envisioning your future move here? Close to the historic center, close to the beaches, for under $250,000….you can’t get better living than that.

Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Unfortunately, those numbers are misleading. Often they include the tri-county area – Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester (and those last two can be an hour out from the historic City Center or FAR). Often they include a vast swath of suburbs with the city name ‘Charleston’ – yet which have zero resemblance to the Charleston of our dreams. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had to disappoint when I tell them for $250,000 they’ll be living in an area that is not at all what they imagined.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it just requires a mental readjustment on the part of the house hunter.

So, I am here to set the records straight. Again. Back in 2010, I also wrote about this issue (which I had actually forgotten I had done until I googled Charleston Median Home Prices and my old post came up).  But five years and many changes have since passed, so let’s look at some new median prices. I have set up this map for you based on how we as real estate agents divide the area. I did not include the outer reaches of the metropolis, because frankly, I am just not sure where the lines are drawn. But I can tell you median prices there ARE in fact, under $200,000.

So, here’s the map of median prices for homes based on rolling 3-months statistics from January-March 2015. Follow the pretty colors from Southwest, to Northeast, and click on them for the median price of the area. If you prefer a list, just go below the map.


Wadmalaw Island – $938,000
Seabrook Island – $525,000
Kiawah Island – $978,000
Johns Island – $238,000
West Ashley outside I-526 – $248,695
West Ashley inside I-526 – $220,000
James Island – $310,003
Folly Beach to Battery Island – $515,000
Charleston Peninsula inside 17 – $752,500
Charleston Peninsula outside 17 – $363,450
North Charleston inside I-526 – $160,000
Hanahan – $215,000
Wando/Cainhoy – $281,012
Daniel Island – $703,283
Mount Pleasant inside the IOP Connector – $458,000
Mount Pleasant outside the IOP Connector – $427,000
Sullivan’s Island – $1,710,000
Isle of Palms – $787,000
Wild Dunes – $793,500
Dewees Island – $700,000

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New on the Market: 128 Bull Street – The Joseph Bennett House circa 1814

128 Bull Street in Harleston Village

128 Bull Street in Harleston Village

128 Bull Street is an extraordinary example of a Charleston Double House with Adamesque architecture, right in my own neighborhood, Harleston Village. I am pleased to present this 200 year-old historic home, currently divided into two condominiums – one 1153 sq ft two bedroom on the ground floor, and a spacious, sunny 3,300 sq ft four bedroom on the second, third and fourth floors.  It could easily be converted back into one grand residence, or you could live in one and use the other for additional income (or your mother-in-law!).

But it’s the historic details that delight…

Soaring Ceilings, Intricate Moldings, Grand-Scaled Formal Rooms and Central Hall, Original Heart Pine Floors and an electric fireplace, Nine-over-Nine windows, Fluted Doric Columns, Adamesque Friezes, Graceful Winding Stairs…this home an historic architect’s dream…

For more information on this lovely piece of Charleston’s history, priced at $1,285,000 please give me a call or click this link.

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Colonial Lake Torn Up. Sergeant Jasper Torn Down.

Way back when I was a student at the College of Charleston in the mid-nineties, my Charleston world was very, very small. I lived in the French Quarter (though it wasn’t called that silly name then), worked there too, partied on Market Street, and walked or biked a few blocks to school. I rarely ventured west of Coming or north of Calhoun and never above Cannon Street. Ever.

And imagine, that even though Harleston Village was just on the other side of the school where I went almost every single day, I never explored its tree-lined streets since it just didn’t fall within my myopic purview. And though I never once walked around Colonial Lake, my friend Tracy and I would drive past it on Broad Street on our way out of town, feet on the dash of her brown Monte Carlo, radio blasting to some old blues or rock ‘n roll, and remark to each other that a house overlooking Colonial Lake might be a great place to live when we were much much older – almost like living in the suburbs, but not.

So here I am, that much much older person I imagined, two decades gone, having lived in the place of my youthful musings for almost 9 years. And now this place that was undiscovered to me, this neighborhood that became my home, is on the cusp of changing forever.

Colonial Lake is being torn up, right as Sergeant Jasper is being torn down.

So, reality check here. It’s not as if Harleston Village hasn’t changed before. After all, the land the Sergeant Jasper stands on now was part of the Ashley River back in 1888. The Lake had just been created and Ashley Ave was called Lynch. See the screen shot below from the 1888 Sanborn Maps. For reference, the street above the 48 is Beaufain. The star/compass thing is in the middle of the water.


Sanborn Map 1888

Here’s a screen shot of what the area looks like today.  Filled in and filled up!


Aerial View of Colonial Lake and Sergeant Jasper site.

Certainly the neighborhood and the Lake have had other changes throughout the years – a pocket park created here, a street turned from one-way to two-way there, a new development or exquisite restoration on yonder…Heck, they used to have boat and tub races in the Lake way back in the day (I wish they would bring those back!).

And though generally I embrace change, and might even have been considered a changeaholic in my not-so-distant past, this one in particular requires I tap into deep reserves of patience over the next 1-5 years, because that’s how long it will take to complete it. Ugh.

Colonial Lake

So let’s start right out my front door.  The Lake has looked pretty much the same since the 1880s, give or take some landscaping additions over the years.  Many think the Lake is tired, a bit dirty, a lot crumbling. No argument there, though you know dear readers that has never affected my love for it… So what the Charleston Parks Conservancy and the City of Charleston have committed to is a $5,000,000 facelift with a gorgeous design aiming to achieve the quality and beauty of Waterfront Park. This is fantastic news for both real estate values and general aesthetics for the heart of Harleston Village. Obviously, I’m not complaining. It’s just that my view has gone from this:


Colonial Lake Rainbow

To this, as of Tuesday, January 20, 2015:


All fenced in

You like my dramatic juxtaposition?? 😉 The renovation efforts should take about a year to complete, during which time the Lake will be closed to the public. However, when the new Lake is revealed, I am 100% sure it will have been worth the wait.  Here’s a rendering of what the corner of Rutledge and Beaufain will look like to boost your enthusiasm. Pretty darn nice, eh??

Rendering courtesy of Charleston Parks Conservancy

Rendering courtesy of Charleston Parks Conservancy

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to sit on the new benches or seating walls, to wander the winding sidewalks, and to find my special sunset spot. Because in one year – I might even be able to see it…

Sergeant Jasper

Yup – she’s coming down. For those of you who don’t know what this is – the Sergeant Jasper is a 16-story apartment building built in the 1950s with commercial space on the ground floor. It was built by the Beach Company before there were height restrictions in the City, and so for nearly 70 years it has towered over the more human-scaled neighborhood, ugly in design, obnoxious in stature. However, it has been the most affordable housing available South of Calhoun Street for many years, and during the holiday season, its huge steel star on the roof lit up the night sky and served as a beacon for those of us coming home.  Most of us Harleston Villagers have a love/hate relationship with it.


Ghostbusters needed stat.

So given the perfect combination of end-of-life, available capital, and increased demand for additional apartment housing, the Beach Company decided the time was right to bring her down. One brick at a time.  No – they won’t do one of those cool implosions you see on TV. Rather starting in February when the last commercial tenant has said goodbye, they’ll take it down floor by floor, discarding the debris down the elevator shafts. Go here for a more comprehensive timeline.

What happens after that – no one knows…except that it will not be as tall, and it will be much more broad. Here’s a great article from the City Paper discussing the rezoning efforts needed for that.

If you refer back to that map up top, you’ll see a big triangle. Currently, the building and its concurrent parking only occupy one-half of that area. In the future, it will occupy all of that or 6 acres in total. In the photo below taken from the bend on Lockwood Drive, that vacant land you see will be no more.


Jasper from Lockwood

My best guess is that in the future we are looking at a combination of 4 and 6-story buildings, mostly apartments, with ground floor commercial and parking. It will most likely double the population living on that corner – having an unfortunate impact on traffic, however that remains to be seen. I imagine it will take a year to go through the design and permitting process, and then three years to construct.  Beach Company, here’s my wish list, so how about you grant all of them?

  1. Incorporation of lots of glass on the Ashley River facing side of the building, to reflect the gorgeous view and sunsets.
  2. A restaurant or two – preferably one with a sunset view on top of one of the buildings overlooking the River.
  3. Addition of a small, nice grocery store in the commercial space so I can walk a block to pick up my groceries rather than drive across town. How about a Fresh Market?? Pretty Please?
  4. Integration of green space with Colonial Lake and Moultrie Park, providing pocket parks and view corridors to the River.

So though I have a brimming, seething dread about the forthcoming noise, the dust, the pile driving, the hammers, the machines, the construction traffic, the incessant backing up beep beep beeps – I am confident by the time it’s done, it will be all for the best.  And just maybe I’ll be able to raise my glass not only to the gorgeous Lake from my piazza, but also to the sunset via a cocktail on a roof. And to change.


To donate to the Colonial Lake Renovation effort go here.

To read more about the Lake Renovations go here.

Posted in Developments, Harleston Village, Urban Life | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

My Wish for You in 2015

Way down at the raw and beautiful western end of Folly Beach, stands a lone tree, a ‘boneyard’ tree that’s been battered by the winds and tides of time. I find it extraordinarily beautiful – in the way its arms touch the earth and reach for the sky in total connection with its place in the world. In that it stands alone and constant, yet changes with the light and nature’s whim. For some reason it has always been a source of inspiration for me and a touchstone for my life and though I haven’t been to see it since 2012, I was recently reminded of it via the work of two of my colleagues. And I was re-inspired.




So in awe of and in inspiration from this boneyard tree, I wanted to wish each of you the following for the year of 2015.

The connection with your loved ones, with your spirit, and with your chosen place.

The strength to stand up, stand still, or make that change that has been tapping at your door.

The ability to dance with life, to make it your partner and your source of satisfaction and glee no matter what music it brings to you.

May 2015 bring you all that and more!!!  Kristin

Photo Credit goes to my colleague Donnie Whitaker, and Video Credit goes to my colleague, Dustin Ryan. I’ve got some talented people working with me. 🙂

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Downtown Charleston Median Prices are Smokin’ Hot

Here’s a little statistical play for your Monday. Today we received October numbers from our Charleston Trident Association of Realtors and no lie – it’s been a pretty strong fall. In many areas of the country, activity peters off from the summer until the following spring, but around my #1-in-the-United-States pretty urban center, lots of people like to buy homes to move into before the holidays. After all, it’s fun to start the new year with a new life!

So here’s what’s interesting, in these two interactive graphs below, you’ll see the median prices for the tri-county area (blue lines), compared to the median prices for Downtown Charleston and the Upper Charleston Peninsula (green lines) – both of which I call Downtown Charleston. In both cases the rate of median price increase far surpasses the tri-county area rate.

In this first one – Downtown Charleston, from the lowest point in the past ten years to today, we have seen a 44% increase in median price. (Yes, my dear clients who purchased a home in 2012 – do a happy dance!!). In the tri-county area, there has only been a 20% increase. Now – I will caveat my glee by saying this part of Downtown Charleston has seen more extreme peaks and troughs since many of the homes here are not primary, but still, it’s looking good.

Then let’s take a look at the Upper Charleston Peninsula (anything above the Crosstown). From the lowest point to today, there has been a 73% increase in median prices. No – that is not a typo. Seventy-Three Percent Increase.  As a matter of fact, we are at the highest price point ever. Why is this the case? New restaurants, new schools, new businesses, renovations and new construction everywhere and all over the place, convenience and good transportation options, rising incomes…the chargrilled oysters at Leon’s...

No longer are Hampton Park Terrace and Wagener Terrace the only choice spots to be, but North Central and the Westside have turned out in force.  Want to see evidence? After you look at the statistics below, scroll down for a screen shot of a map of building permits and projects on the Peninsula.

Here is the map of current projects and permits – some are slightly outdated but you get the gist. If you want the interactive version go here.

It’s pretty mind-blowing.

Downtown Charleston Permits and Projects

Downtown Charleston Permits and Projects

Posted in Charleston Peninsula Real Estate, Harleston Village, Statistics, Urban Life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charleston’s About to Get Taller and Techier

Tuesday night the Charleston City Council unanimously approved the City of Charleston’s request to change the height zoning on a particular area of Morrison Drive from 55 feet to 85 feet.  Why does this matter?? 1. Because that rarely happens, and 2. Because it was done so to enable the construction of new 76-foot tall buildings up to 350,000 square feet with the express purpose of housing technology company incubators via the Charleston Digital Corridor. Yes, the demand for that kind of space is high as existing incubators currently have a waiting list.  Silicon Harbor is for real folks!

Check out this video from Live 5 News for interviews, renderings and more…. | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

But why else is this important? Because this signals the City’s commitment to the Morrison Drive area, turning what was once a strip of car dealerships, turned industrial wasteland, into the next hot live/work center on the Peninsula.  The Flagship3 incubator will join other transformative projects in the works – the apartment building at 930 Morrison Drive, and the Half Mile North project which currently houses Blue Acorn, Edmund’s Oast Brew Pub, and SIB Development.  One Cool Blow was a trailblazer when it was built in 2008, but it has since been joined by countless local businesses and restaurants (see the red dots on my map), with more to come.


All of this is related to yet another exciting initiative called CharlestonUP – which in their words is:

“an innovative, community planning and urban redevelopment effort focused on an 865 acre area on the Upper Eastside of the Charleston peninsula.”

I highly recommend you spend some time pouring through their website, as it will give you an idea of just how tall, techie, and frankly, exciting and beautiful, this area of the Peninsula is going to be!


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Raising Up a Charleston Cottage

Check this out.  A little Charleston Cottage hovering in the air at least 5 feet above the ground.


223 Fishburne

The person who is restoring this cottage (built in 1935) has decided to elevate it to the appropriate FEMA flood level, which in this area is 13 feet above sea level. Now, normally I am not a fan of actions that ruin the historic integrity of a home’s exterior aesthetics. However, in this case and others like it, I’ll give it a pass through ;). Raising up the house helps with affordability (for a Buyer) since for every $100 per month you pay in flood insurance, you have $20,000 less in purchasing power. So up the little cottage goes!

Historic? Did I say historic?

You know you want a little history to go with my complaints about insurance….The Charleston Cottage is a vernacular architecture found all over the Peninsula, built from the 1870s to the 1930s, with one story, a side piazza and a gabled roof facing the street, generally 500-1200 square feet in size. These cottages are more commonly referred to as Freedman’s Cottages, giving the general public the impression they were built to house former slaves, however this is NOT the case.  According to the Preservation Society, these homes were built to house Charleston’s middle class of all ethnicities – the people who built our streets and our buildings, ran our stores and more…Here’s a neat book about it if you want to read more. “The Charleston ‘Freedman’s Cottage’: An Architectural Tradition.”

The preservation and restoration of these Charleston Cottages is gaining some serious momentum, and you’ll see projects going on all over town on the Eastside, on the Westside, in Elliotborough and everything in between. Check out these photos I took of cottages in the Westside neighborhood on the streets of Larnes, Fishburne, President, Norman and Ashton. Some are renovated, some are in process, and some will be starting soon.  Three of the currently unrenovated ones (24 Norman, 1 & 7 Ashton) will soon be restored by the developer I work for – Jeff Roberts of Ecovest Development.  How good is your imagination and vision? 🙂

If 2 Larnes caught your eye, it’s your lucky day because it is for sale by one of my favorite Realtors, Anna Gruenloh.

1404958 – Details: 2 LARNES ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $230,000

And if you are curious to see how much other places sell for and what they can look like when they are complete, check out this list of some Westside Charleston Cottages that sold this year so far – my favorite is 207 Fishburne with its pretty kitchen and wainscoting. (superb job SC Renovation Group!)

1324914 – Details: 185 LINE ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $168,200
1400727 – Details: 207 FISHBURNE ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $245,000
1402668 – Details: 382 SUMTER ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $298,000
1405404 – Details: 21 LARNES ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $250,000

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New on the Market: 783 Rutledge Ave – A Gorgeous Craftsman Home in Wagener Terrace

Years ago I wrote a post about finding a beautiful Craftsman style home in Charleston as you will find many of these lovely places built throughout Hampton Park Terrace, Wagener Terrace and North Central in the 1910s-1940s, and it is quite a sought after style. Though certainly Charleston’s homes differ from those in other areas of the country, you will find some similar elements that evoke that traditional Craftsman Bungalow: wide front porches, tapered columns, exposed rafter tails, windows with multi-paned top sashes and single-paned bottom sashes, and attention to detail on the interior.

The home at 783 Rutledge Avenue in Wagener Terrace offers just that – historic Craftsman details with modern respectful renovations that complement the era. My favorite things about it are the front porch, the multiple sets of original french doors, the intact picture molding, the great built-ins in one of the upstairs bedrooms and the easy open flow to the rooms. At a generous 1980 square feet (spacious for the neighborhood!), it has three bedrooms, two and a half baths, multiple rooms for living and entertaining, a totally renovated kitchen and a lush, private back yard.  And a bonus, it is only a few blocks from the lovely Hampton Park!

1411550 – Details: 783 RUTLEDGE AVE, CHARLESTON, SC – $469,000

So click that details link to read more about the home, and enjoy the photos below to get a peek into a little bit of history.  If you fall in love with it like I have, and imagine your own self there, just let me know! 🙂

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