Isle of Palms Office

1400 Palm Boulevard Ste. M
Isle of Palms, SC 29451

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31 Center Street
Folly Beach, SC 29439

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Dunes Downtown

11 Fulton Street
Charleston, SC 29401

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Kiawah Seabrook Office

1887 Andell Bluff Boulevard
Johns Island, SC 29455

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Mount Pleasant Office

835 Coleman Blvd Ste. 200
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

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Category: Trends

Confessions of a Christmas Tree Snob

    • “What are you, some kind of pagan?!” These were the first words from my husband’s mouth when I told him I purchased a black Christmas tree.
    • You see, I had always been a natural Christmas tree snob. I would never have a “fake” tree, those are for people who are not willing to sacrifice as I was – I thought. That was until I arrived home after a week away, to discover that my cat had been nibbling on the tree all week and puked all over the hand cross-stitched, tree skirt and broken many of the balls for a mix of cat puke and glass that helped me make the decision. No more trees. We were traveling each year anyway from our home on Martha’s Vineyard to be with family in PA and did not really get to enjoy it much. I decorated the house, but used an ornament tree to enjoy a handful of cherished ornaments and dispensed with the live trees.
    • After we moved to Charleston with the cat, who was still with us but slowing down (bless her, she died last year at 18) I thought again about a tree. Right after the holidays one day in January, I decided to rethink the tree situation.  I was also 10 years older and began to think about an artificial tree. I went back and forth and wrestled with the idea and then finally thought, what if instead of looking for the most lifelike “fake” tree, I embraced the artificial by being transparently artificial.  Don’t pretend it’s not fake – see the humor in it! I always ask buyers and sellers if something is not working, try thinking about the opposite position. If they only want to see brick homes on James Island, I sometimes send them West Ashley properties that might fit the bill. If their sofa is the wrong size for every home they see, perhaps a new sofa is cheaper than paying for more square footage.
    • But, how best to do it? The answer of course, was By now it was February, it took me a little while to make the journey to an artificial tree.
    • Oh the colors! The all-white tree reminded me too much of the snow I had recently escaped. The silver trees were reminiscent of when my aunt had one (back in the day) and used a tree wheel projecting changing light colors. Pink was definitely not my style, and the upside down one made me dizzy. Then I saw the tuxedo black tree. I loved decorating for Christmas with blue, white, and silver trimmings, and typically avoided the traditional green and red. It occurred to me that those less traditional colors would be quite elegant on a black tree with white lights. And, since it was February – I got a bargain! Fedex delivered and I packed it away in the attic.
    • In November, my mother-in-law came to visit for Thanksgiving. We had often gone shopping on Black Friday so Thanksgiving dinner seemed the perfect time to bring up the tree. I asked if there was anything in particular she would be looking for on our trip the next day. “Nothing special – so I don’t care where we go. Do you have something in mind?” she asked. I knew I wanted to get some special new decorations for the tree to set off the color, so I told them my story and my husband asked me the question at the beginning of this blog. While my husband found some words, Helen was speechless. All my in-laws find me to be quirky, but this black tree was outside the box even for me.
    • The next day we found white and crystal beads for the garland, a super sparkly white wreath ornament, turquoise snowflakes, and several boxes of mixed silver, aqua and navy balls – some in matte and some glittery. After I picked up a few other glam items, I was still missing a tree topper. My former topper from the old tree was retired to the fireplace mantle to join the other blue and white angels. The tree was not quite as tall as I would have liked (because a 6’ black tree is so much less risky than the 9’ version) so I was thinking vertical. I found some crazy looking silver and white balls attached to long wires meant to be tucked into the branches. I combined three of them with some similar wires with dangly crystals I already had, to create what has essentially become sparkly head bonkers on my tree.

black christmas tree terry bell-aby

    • Every year now, I delight in finding a new and unique ornament or two to add to the mix. I have since discovered that purple adds another interesting contrast and I make sure there’s a pop of it in every sight line. My only regret is that I did not get the 9’ version!
    • Let me help you think outside the box in searching for your Lowcountry home.
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Harleston Gates, Charleston’s Newest Condominiums

Charleston is known for historic beauty and centuries old architecture, but we are excited to introduce Charleston’s newest condominium development right in the heart of the city.  Old world charm meets modern luxury with this impressive project.

Harleston Gates

Only two flats remain in Historic Charleston’s new distinctive address, Harleston Gates. These boutique residences showcase the very best of elegant contemporary living in a classically inspired framework. Flats have private balconies and luxury appointments. Construction is underway and moving along quickly.

An exclusive partnership with Wentworth Mansion offers owners the option for concierge access, preferred reservations at Circa 1886, special inn, spa and restaurant pricing, in-home room service, housekeeping services, and even provisioning services. Harleston Gates also offers a gated entry with covered garage parking; two spaces per residence, electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle storage, a dog-washing station, and their very own doorman.

Charleston's Newest Condominiums

Created by the Lowcountry’s finest luxury development company, Bennett-Hofford Construction, designed by prominent architectural firm, Evans & Schmidt, and featuring renowned landscape architect, Sheila Wertimer, Harleston Gates offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the essence of Charleston living. Located in Harleston Village, a vibrant and tranquil neighborhood, it is favorably situated a few blocks west of the nationally-acclaimed King Street shopping and restaurant districts.

Charleston's Newest Condominiums

Construction is well underway, with estimated completion in Spring 2020.  For more information on the last two available flats,  contact listing agents Kristin Walker or Beth Huntley.

Accessory Dwellings are becoming popular in Charleston

Granny-flat, mother-in-law-suite, tiny house, laneway house, carriage house- they go by many names.  But whatever you want to call them, “Accessory Dwellings” are becoming more and more common in the Charleston area. Accessory Dwellings are typically small habitable structures on the same property as (or attached to) single family homes. There are many types but the most popular is an adorable tiny house that sits in your backyard. Other types include a small apartment over your garage or even a basement apartment, although basements are not typical to our area. No matter the physical form of your Accessory Dwelling, the structure is legally the same property as the main home. This means it cannot be bought or sold separately, like a condominium or a dwelling on wheels could be.


Jamme Construction permitted the first ADU in Mount Pleasant, SC.                Photo courtesy of Jamme Construction

In some cases, homeowners want an Accessory Dwelling for the obvious reason – extra income. You could rent out the space to a young professional, a college student, or even your own adult children that just won’t leave home!  Accessory Dwellings could also allow parents to live smaller after their children leave the nest or let an elderly couple live without navigating stairs or maneuvering around a large floor plan.

An above garage Accessory Dwelling Photo courtesy of

An above garage Accessory Dwelling in Mount Pleasant
Photo courtesy of

If you plan on building one that is one story and less than 120 square feet, then you do not need a permit in Charleston County. A zoning permit is required for a structure larger than 120 square feet, and if you are in a residential district, all Accessory Dwellings (besides garages and carports) must be in the rear of the property behind the main home or office. The space of your parcel must also be at least twice the size of the Accessory Dwelling. The Post & Courier recently wrote an article on the rules and regulations of Accessory Dwellings. Make sure you check with your local authorities about specific zoning laws in your neighborhood. For all the details and requirements on Accessory Dwelling Units in Charleston, click here.

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A 400 Sq. Ft Houseboat that sits at Charleston Harbor Marina in the Mount Pleasant. Photo courtesy of Tiny House Hunters via The Post & Courier

Jamme Construction, of Mount Pleasant has erected several Accessory Dwellings in Mount Pleasant. Paul Jamme has been specializing in custom home building in the Lowcountry since 1994 and wants to make sure that the public knows that the construction of an Accessory Dwelling is hard work and a serious construction job. Just because they are small doesn’t mean they are easy! Think about it for a moment. Accessory Dwellings are so small yet so functional. That is mainly because of innovative solutions to things like storage and floor space, which is why you will often see dining tables that fold down from the wall, Murphy beds, and cabinets or drawers under seating. For more information on building an Accessory Dwelling in Charleston, contact Paul Jamme.

Charleston Area Market Statistics through April 2015

As we wrap up the second quarter of 2015, most markets are expected to see a rapid increase in new listings. Spring is usually the time of the year that we see the most activity in the real estate market, as we see a huge increase in some of the most desirable homes being polished up and placed on the market. We’re ready for what summer will bring.
National home ownership percentage is actually the lowest since 1993.  Rental prices continue to grow which causes people to think twice about committing to a 12 month lease. The number of homeowners this year will also be determined by mortgage rates and lending practices.
 Charleston Area Market Statistics through April 2015
Upper Charleston
Lower Charleston
Mount Pleasant – South of IOP Connector
Mount Pleasant – North of IOP Connector
Folly Beach
Isle of Palms
Sullivans Island
Kiawah & Seabrook Islands

Market Stats – dunes properties and sales on the peninsula

Market Stats- Since the opening of The Real Estate Studio in historic Charleston in 2007, dunes properties has had a stronger focus in sales on the peninsula. Our downtown office is comprised of a group of agents that are experts in the downtown market, including the upper and lower peninsula. With this expertise combined with the strength of our other three offices, we have seen significant growth in the downtown market.

In the third quarter of 2014, dunes properties has sold $17,186,650 with over 40 sides. Closing out 2013 with $16,527,350 in sales, which was more than double the previous year, we have already surpassed last year’s total!

Compared to July 2013, the median sales price is up 21% and the number of days on the market has decreased almost 30% in historic Charleston. North of the crosstown, the median sales price is $304,500, which is 6% higher than this time last year.

market stats, median sales price downtown Charleston inside of crosstown     market stats, median sales price downtown charleston inside of crosstown

Along with increased sales on the peninsula with dunes properties, the Lowcountry has continued to see growth in home sales and prices. July was the fifth month in a row that the Charleston area has seen inventory growth, opening up new opportunities for buyers who may not have found what they were looking for last Spring. Compared to July 2013, residential sales have increased from 7,417 homes sold at a median price of $200,834 to 8,016 homes sold at a median price of $216,250.

Sales Continue to Progress in the Charleston Market

Despite the government shutdown last month, October showed more promising numbers for the Charleston Market. According to the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS® (CTAR), 1,020 homes sold at a median price of $190,000, which is up from 920 homes sold at a median price of $185,000 in October 2012.

Year-to-date, sales numbers and prices aren’t showing any sign of decline. Compared to last year, the Charleston Region Real Estate Sales are up 23%, with an 8.5% increase in median sales prices. At this time in 2012, homes were selling at a median price of $187,894 and there were 8,842 sales. A total of 10,897 homes have sold at a median price of $203,947 so far this year. Homes are also closing in less than 90 days.

2013 Median Sales Price, dunes properties  Closed Sales, dunes properties

In Charleston County 566 homes were sold last month, which is up by almost 14%. 

Charleston County November 2013 Market Report, dunes properties

A common trend in the markets both locally and nationally is low inventory. In the Charleston Region, inventory is down by 11%. In it’s latest report on existing-home sales, the National Association of REALTORS® states that this tight inventory is a contributor to the rising home prices. The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, attributes low inventory to “holding back sales while at the same time pushing up home prices in most of the country.”

You can see current market reports for the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and other areas here.

Not So Common Advice for Staging Your Home

If you’ve read magazines, blogs, websites, or listened to a real estate agent discussing staging your home you have been told you should bake cookies, put out flowers, clear clutter, and depersonalize as much as possible. That is great advice. However, in the most recent edition of Realtor® magazine, there is some advice from a few California agents. Myra Nourmand, a Beverly Hills real estate pro who has a list of A-list celebrity clients including Hilary Swank and Sheryl Crow.  Nourmand has some ideas I hadn’t heard before that may benefit you if you are or plan to sell your home. Anything that make your house or condo stand out for the better is a good thing!

Nourmand advises sellers to think of their home as a movie set that needs to be camera and buyer ready.  LA agent Brett Baer adds “Home buying is very aspirational, so play to the buyers’ aspirations.” And they’ve both got ideas on how to do play to buyers’ aspirations.

  1. Create vignettes. Define how the spaces in your home are to be used. They recommend setting up a game of chess or playing cards in an area that could be a game room or corner, in an exercise area put out bottles of water and towels on a table. You are selling a lifestyle, not just a home.
  2. Go big. Push spaces to the max.  “If a dining room can fit twelve, don’t just put in eight seats.”  Go big but be mindful of the room’s scale. And if you have large rooms, enhance their multifunctionality- add a  small desk in a large living room for example.
  3. Add pops of color. The staging trend right now is modern, minimalist style with lighter more neutral colors with color added through accessories (pillows, vases, art). Provide buyers with a clean slate.
  4. Create a scene stealer. It’s mentioned the master bedroom is the perfect place to showcase this idea. Create an “elegant Four-Seasons tpe of space.” Use high end linens,textured pillows, and if you can, add a sitting area so it will feel like a suite. And add a spa like feeling to the bath with upscale soaps, fluffy white towels, a candle, and even a single flower in a vase (think a rose).
  5. If baking homemade or ready-to-bake cookies doesn’t interest you, Nourmand likes to slice four apples in half, sprinkle them with brown sugar and bake them at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  6. Add color pops with seasonal fruits in the kitchen, living, and dining rooms (apples, oranges, pomengranites, strawberries, or lemons).
  7. Play soft classical music in the background.
  8. Encourage the Buyer to  sit down and stay awhile- set out cookies on a pretty plate, brew some tea and coffee, and put out a few bottles of water.

Nourmand says sellers should think of  reaching the buyers’ five senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, and feel) when prepping your home for a showing. Create an inviting and enticing space that will suprise the buyer as well as enourage him/her to relax and take in the scenes.

If you would like to read the original article from the REALTOR magazine March/April 2013 edition, click here.

What is going on with home sales on the Upper Peninsula??

A whole heck of a lot. That’s what. The Upper Peninsula is defined as the area North of the Crosstown (Highway 17) and South of Heriot Street (basically) and includes the neighborhoods of the Westside, Hampton Park Terrace, Wagener Terrace, North Central, Longborough, Lowndes Pointe and parts of the Eastside. Home sales in this area recently have been out of this world – so much so, that I have started skulking around at homes under renovation to see if I can help my clients get a jump on them before they even come on the market.

So if you are looking for a mostly renovated, completely renovated, or a new construction home under $500,000 here, you better be ready to jump.  Here are the numbers for your statistical enjoyment.

10 homes sold in the past month.


22 homes on the market.


22 homes under contract.


2 months of housing inventory = Sellers Market

So you ask – what do I think is driving all this activity??

  1. It’s an extra hot real estate market this year.
  2. People are realizing they don’t have to cross a bridge to live in a great neighborhood at a reasonable price.  And there’s so much history!
  3. Hampton Park is pretty spectacular.
  4. Upper King Street is, well, moving on up.  This makes these neighborhoods just a stroll or a quick bike ride away from some of the best restaurants and shops in town.
  5. Small local businesses are flocking to the area around Upper Meeting and North Morrison Drive (“NoMo” for short) for inexpensive commercial lease rates and short commutes. SIB just announced this morning that they are moving their headquarters to NoMo from Meeting St south of Calhoun St.
  6. Restaurants and bars are opening here slowly but surely. Bob Carter’s Rutledge Cab Co. at the corner of Rutledge and Mount Pleasant is packed – all the time. As is Santi’s and The Tattooed Moose.
  7. The schools are improving.  Not only are they being rebuilt, but also they are being rethought.  For example, the James Simons Elementary School will become partly Montessori.
  8. Overall, there’s a great sense of community, with community-driven change.  People are passionate about this area and spend their time working together to improve it.

So let’s take a look at the homes under contract and how long they lasted before they had a contract. That will give you a good idea of demand for the Upper Peninsula! Note that some of them had been on and off the market for years, and as soon as they came back up recently and were priced right, they were under contract.

MLS# 1204829- 18 FRANCIS ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $209,000 – 109 Days.

1224717 -311 ST PHILIP ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $239,000 – 92 days. (This and the other St. Philip addresses are the new construction homes in the nook of the King Street off-ramp from 17)

1224796 -301 ST PHILIP ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $239,000 – 48 days.

1222925 – 75 SIMONS ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $259,000 – 145 days. (also new construction)

1224794 –  307 ST PHILIP ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $265,000 – 0 days.

1224795 –  305 ST PHILIP ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $265,000 – 20 days.

1224831 –  0 FISHBURNE ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $269,000 – 22 days. (Also part of King St off-ramp project)

1224829 – 302 ST PHILIP ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $269,000 – 1 day.

1304868 – 235 FISHBURNE ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $295,500 – 6 days. (Though it was on and off the market since July 2010)

1224792 –  309 ST PHILIP ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $299,000 – 0 days.

1224793 – 303 ST PHILIP ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $299,000 – 2 days.

1301297 –  1007 ASHLEY AVE, CHARLESTON, SC – $299,900 – 4 days. (Though on and off the market since July 2012)

1301171 –  81 GORDON ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $300,000 – 28 days.

1225650 –  203 SAINT MARGARET ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $306,900 – 90 days.

1300787 – 163 MAPLE ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $324,000 – 0 days.

1304620 –  31 DUNNEMANN AVE, CHARLESTON, SC – $369,000 – 7 days.

1304375 – 12 CLEVELAND LN, CHARLESTON, SC – $369,900 – 14 days.

1213573 –  368 ASHLEY AVE, CHARLESTON, SC – $379,000 – 250 days.

1304476 – 109 FISHBURNE ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $412,000 – 2 days.

1303548 –  101 SAINT MARGARET ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $424,000 – 21 days. (Though on and off the market since April 2010)

1303287 – 76 MAPLE ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $426,500 – 20 days.

1302095 –  176 SAN SOUCI ST, CHARLESTON, SC – $429,900 – 19 days.

And the sunset views over the Ashley River from the fishing dock at Longborough, aren’t too bad either…:)

sunset over ashley river dunes properties

Kristin Walker

You can find me at  Charleston Inside Out or riding my bike all over downtown Charleston.

(843) 412-3333 |

Charleston Residential Sales are Up & One of Our Offices is #1

This week’s Charleston Regional Business Journal reports that residential sales in Charleston are up and the inventory is down compared to this time last year.  So, is it turning into a seller’s market? It’ll be interesting watching it play out.  2013 Charleston MLS president Dave Sansome is quoted in the CRBJ as saying “Many areas of our region are squarely in seller’s market territory. That doesn’t mean that sellers can start overpricing their homes and expect them to sell, but it does mean that they have a bit more room to negotiate for the price they want than they have in recent years.”

Our business has definitely increased. Our Isle of Palms office is the #1 office in volume and sides for residential sales in the resort of Wild Dunes and on Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. We are quite ahead of our competition if I may blow our own horn for a moment.

As reported by MLS from 1/1/13-3/13/13 residential sales by office for Sullivan Island, Isle of Palms, and Wild Dunes

Dunes Properties $10,702,132
Carolina One $6,498,000
Beachside $3,339,000
Wild Dunes Real Estate $3,223,000
Carolina Elite $3,100,000

The Business Journal article by Lauren Ratcliffe reports that Charleston sales are outpacing last year’s by over 18%. In February of 2013 722 homes were sold with a median price of $181,334 and Charleston hasn’t seen sales volume like that since February of 2008 when 733 homes sold. Inventory has decreased by 1000 homes in comparison to this time last year.

 If you are thinking about selling, now might be the time.  As us about the Dunes Difference and see what we can do for you. If you are interested in buying, you might want to get started looking. We can help you with that search here.

Is there a Sellers Market in Morgan Place, Wild Dunes?

By Donnie Whitaker, dunes properties Real Estate Agent | 843.607.0954
Morgan Place, wild dunes, dunes properties Deepwater Homes at Morgan Place
Ok, so maybe I am getting a little ahead of myself, but facts are facts. We know limited supply creates demand, and in Morgan Place thats what you have.  Over the last few years, you could always expect there to be at least 5 homes to choose from in this section of Wild Dunes.  Until recently, those homes would sit for some time, simply because the buyers weren’t there, or lets be honest, asking prices were to high.

Things change though, and as of today, 49 Morgan Place is the only home listed for sale. Two weeks ago there were three, but last week, 4 Morgan Place and 14 Morgan Place went under contract. One of them was only on the market for a couple of weeks.

Now, we know in a sellers market, home prices tend to move upward.  I don’t think this means we will see prices soar like they did from 2005 to 2007 (any increase will be gradual), but, with a limited supply, and proof of demand in the pudding (evidenced by two contracts last week), sellers just might have a window to demand more than they could, not so long ago.

I have to say it feels good to dust off the saying, sellers market, although it may be a little to early.  Or maybe not?

– Donnie Whitaker, dunes properties Real Estate Agent | 843.607.0954