Real Estate




For the past two years there’s been a real estate boom like an unprecedented 8-foot wave bursting onshore but not receding.

Oceanfront and waterfront properties have been experiencing tidal wave prices because inventory is as dry as sand pebbles.

“We’re still at historic lows of inventory,” said Chip Collins, broker-in-charge/owner of Collins Group Realty.

Karen Ryan, broker/owner of Weichert Coastal Properties, said one oceanfront property recently sold for $10 million after only three days on the market.

“It’s completely due to limited inventory,” she said. “There’s a lot more people looking for oceanfront than there is inventory to sell them. Most people want to see oceanfront first.”

As of a month ago, she said only two oceanfront properties were for sale.

On the other side of the island where the creeks, rivers, sounds and waterways cast their magical Hilton Head spells, buyers are wide open to the possibilities of adventure on the water.

“It’s evolving: oceanfront was always king,” Collins said. “Over time, as different lifestyles became more prevalent in the area, you started to see more folks that wanted water access, having a dock, or paddleboard, or jet ski or fish off their dock.

“As the demand has increased on the deep-water properties, so have the prices,” he said.

So if a buyer is flush with cash, as many out-of-staters are from California and New York, money in the pocket is not an issue. Compare that to 2009-10 when the market was highly leveraged, and the real estate boom nearly went bust.

“In 2009, the market value dropped 30-40 percent and hugged the bottom for a good number of years,” Collins said. “In 2019 we started to see a slight upward turn…In the middle of 2020, that’s when all things took off. We started seeing a massive infusion of cash into our local real estate market.”

“We were heading into that period in March and February 2020, thinking this was going to be scary for everybody,” Ryan said. “It was a boom. The properties just took off.”

Cash was king but not just along the oceanfront.

“Deep-water homes are selling just as strong as oceanfront,” Ryan said. “Those are the biggest ones to see the increase in prices.”

Collins agrees: “The higher dollar figure still hits along the oceanfront, but there’s a lot of competition increasingly with the high-dollar stuff that’s happened on the deep-water property.”

So, where’s a buyer to buy, east or west coast, beach or boat?

“It could come down to more people get more jazzed about a sunrise and some people get more excited about a sunset,” Collins said. “If the dollars are equal, then I think it’s very much a lifestyle.”

“It’s a market like I’ve never seen before,” Ryan said.

Besides cost, there are a few other things to consider when buying waterfront, including: traffic, proximity to neighbors, landscaping, rental history, taxes, number of bedrooms/ bathrooms, outdoor living amenities and parking.

One thing Beaufort County homeowners have no control over is the premium on flood insurance, which was overhauled recently.

Twenty-six percent of the properties in the county’s f lood zone have a “severe risk of flooding” sometime in the next 30 years, according to First Street Foundation’s Risk Factor data.

“It’s a new evolution in the insurance market,” Collins said. “[Fewer] companies are willing to write, and those that do have high premiums.”