Wall Street Journal – Oct 2
The following was a full page article in the WSJ on Oct 2.
Sullivan’s Island: The Sleepy South Carolina Enclave with Big-Ticket Real Estate
The explosive growth of Charleston, S.C., has heated up the real-estate market on nearby Sullivan’s Island, a laid-back beach town where the median sale price is $1.4 million
The locals nicknamed Sullivan’s Island, a quaint 2.5-square-mile enclave off the coast of South Carolina, “Mayberry by the Sea.” But if Sheriff Andy Taylor were around today, he might have trouble paying $1.4 million—the island’s median sale price—for a home here.
This historic beach town—population 1,790—has long been a well-kept secret among South Carolinians. But with the explosive growth of nearby Charleston, where Boeing Co. is expanding its 265-acre campus and Volvo is set to open its first U.S. plant in 2018, word of Sullivan’s Island’s charms is spreading. Now buyers from New York, California and even London are staking their claim on the island, just a 15-minute drive from Charleston.
“We’re going to sell more houses on Sullivan’s Island in 2015 than we ever have in history,” said Everett Presson, a real-estate agent who has practiced on the island for 37 years. At the market’s peak in 2005, 45 of the island’s 900 homes were sold. In 2015, 39 home sales have closed through August. With demand high and only 41 homes on the market, the median sales price has increased by 15% since 2014 to $1.4 million, according to data from Charleston Trident MLS.
Though summer is Sullivan’s Island’s busiest season, 80% of its residents live there full-time, according to Mr. Presson.
After traveling from Knoxville, Tenn., to the island for a wedding in 2003, Cortney and Baker Bishop fell in love with the “easy, breezy, preppy-cool lifestyle” of Sullivan’s, Mrs. Bishop, a 42-year-old interior designer said. They set their sights on a circa-1890 traditional low-country home where she had attended a cocktail party.
They purchased it a year later for $1.8 million. The house includes five bedrooms, five baths, a pool, and is two blocks from the beach, two blocks from the island’s marsh front and two blocks from a new oceanfront elementary school. “This house is the best decision I’ve made in my entire life, for my whole family,” said Mrs. Bishop, whose two young children attend the new school. “I mean, what place in the United States can you still just take off on your bike without your parents in the third grade?”
Steve Hamontree, a former medical executive, and his wife, Lynne, an artist, both in their late 50s, are happy to have settled in a place that doesn’t feel like a retirement community. “There are families with young kids and there are single people who aren’t yet married,” said Mr. Hamontree. “This variety in the people makes for a real sense of community.”
With their two children grown and out of the house, they’ve listed the 5,000-square-foot home they purchased for $2.5 million in 2006 with the hopes of building something smaller elsewhere on the island. The four-bedroom, 4½-bath home includes a pool, an expansive third-story screened-in porch, and a light-filled third-floor artist’s studio. The rooftop deck has 360-degree views of the island and its surrounding waterways. They’re asking $2.5 million for the property.
The island’s allure is due, in large part, to a handful of ordinances passed over the past 30 years that have blocked the development of high-rise condos and the kind of spring break-style debauchery that has plagued other East Coast beach towns. “We’ve outlawed weekly rentals, so you don’t have a bunch of people partying in the house next to you,” said Mr. Presson, who served on the town council from 2005 to 2009. You can’t construct a building over 38 feet tall, or a home over 5,600 square feet, even if you bought 10 contiguous lots.
For Wes Fuller, 41, the executive managing director of investments for Greystar, a Charleston-based international real-estate firm, his wife Betsy and their three young kids, easy access to the beach and the marsh was a big factor in their decision to buy on Sullivan’s Island in 2012. “Whether you want to go surfing, or paddle boarding, or fishing, or whether you just want to go swimming in the ocean, you have all of those options on Sullivan’s,” said Mr. Fuller.
They’re selling their newly built 3,700-square-foot, five-bedroom, 4½-bathroom house for $2.475 million after a recent relocation to London for Mr. Fuller’s job. They purchased a larger, 0.90-acre marsh-front lot earlier this year for $1.35 million, where they plan to build a bigger home upon their return to the U.S. in 2016.
“People here are laid back,” said Mr. Fuller. “They don’t ask you about your work. They don’t care what you do for a living. You really do feel like you’re always on vacation.”
No need to fear faithful reader. The WSJ will never publish an article like this for the Isle of Palms and for reasons unknown to this editor this makes many on the IOP quite happy.
If my house gets valued at 1.5 million and the taxes rise accordingly I may have to leave. I’ve been here 30 years and I’m not a rich doctor like you so I hope it stays how it is.
If your 1600 square foot elevated ranch were to be magically transported to Sullivan’s Island, I seriously doubt the value would triple to 1.5 million dollars. I could be wrong, but I think if you check the comps you will see that I am correct.
Regarding the “rich doctor” comment: Yes, I am a doctor, but we are not rich. We do well for sure, but that is because we live below our means. Anyone in America can be rich if that is what they really want, they just have to be willing to work hard and take a bit of risk.
Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting!