“The real estate market in the greater Charleston area is solid and should remain so through 2018,” says Steve Slifer, chief economist at NumberNomics during a Small Business Lunch event at Halls in downtown Charleston.
“Interest rates will tick up a little with home mortgage rates moving a little past five percent by 2018, but overall the national economy and, especially the local economy, will keep moving in a positive direction.” Supporting his statement is Boeing’s presence along with two new massive Mercedes-Benz Vans and Volvo Cars manufacturing plants that are currently under construction.
The Charleston housing market seems to like the momentum and continues to improve, with new listings up 4.3 percent from 2015 and a whopping 41 percent when compared to 2012, according to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors in their Annual Report on Charleston Area Housing. New construction of single-family homes continues to boom in large developments, especially west of Charleston.
Wildly popular, coastal homes, by definition, are near the water, but that does not necessarily mean they are on the water. The result is that nearly all homes labeled “coastal” are essentially in sensitive areas and more than likely require federal flood insurance. With new homes, built to the most current standards, that’s not a concern. But renovating a 20-year-old home can require some considerations.
Custom builders construct new homes but are asked to renovate and update existing homes, too. Cathy Buffington, partner in the locally-owned Buffington Homes, moved here 20 years ago with her husband who gave up a medical practice to become an award-winning luxury homebuilder in Kiawah, the Old Village of Mount Pleasant and Wadmalaw Island. She understands the challenges homeowners face when deciding whether to build or renovate in coastal areas.
“Renovations are subject to the FEMA 50 percent regulation, so we look at a renovation request from two sides,” Buffington says. FEMA code limits renovations of coastal homes to 50 percent of the value of the house structure, not including the land or out buildings. “The price to renovate may be so high, it may be better to start new.”
One of the architecture firms that Buffington collaborates with on select projects is Marc Camens of Camens Architectural Group on Johns Island. “Listen to your dreams, and we will listen to you,” says Camens. “We design homes from the inside out, but first we need to listen, really listen to the client, who will always have the last say.” Camens began his career in the Adirondacks in northern New York before bringing his varied skill set to the Lowcountry. Not only has he designed beautiful homes in the area, but he was the architect for Chef Ken Vedrinski’s restaurant, Coda del Pesce, on the Isle of Palms.
Collaboration between builders and architects is pretty commonplace, but Rob Hutzler, Managing Partner of Kingswood Homes also offers some added value by bringing something a little different to the table. “We provide a certified interior designer for each project,” says Hutzler. “Sometimes the client needs to have someone direct them in a different direction. Push the envelope.” Locally, Kingswood has mostly built custom, single-family homes on Kiawah but is now expanding.