Exploring the Future of Housing: A Deep Dive into Charleston’s Emerging Real Estate Trends for 2024

2023 was a rocky year for the real estate market because of high interest rates and economic uncertainty, but 2024 is shaping up to be a great year for buying or selling a house. Moreover, the greater Charleston market was much less effected than the rest of the nation by financial turmoil last year and has made a complete rebound.

Top real estate agent and founder of Charleston Empire Properties, JJ Rahnamoon, shares his insight for the trends of 2024 and notes that the Lowcountry region’s property market is busy as ever.  With so many people moving to the area it’s still a seller’s market, but as interest rates have dropped and more new-build communities are being completed, buyers are in luck as well.

Price points, inflation, and interest rates

 Last year’s rising interest rates led buyers throughout the nation to put purchasing a home, or selling and upgrading to a larger residence, on hold. Now, as mortgage rates have stabilized, the few-month lull in local real estate transactions has ended.  JJ explains that mortgage rates have begun to stabilize, and inflation has finally slowed, and we’ve already seen the positive results of that in the 2024 housing market.  This year is looking much less volatile than 2023.  Last year, baby boomer buyers might have delayed buying a new house or moving to a snowbird region like Charleston because they had lower mortgage interest rates locked in, or no mortgage at all. Now that inflation has corrected, they are back in the buying market.

1171 Dingle Road, a charming Mt. Pleasant townhouse, just sold in March 2024.  Buyers agent, Charleston Empire Properties.

Residential property type trends

There’s a growing trend throughout the United State towards smaller homes and townhouses with lots of amenities.  The move away from large houses has been fueled by several factors: energy prices and cost of maintenance for a larger property, rising real estate prices making smaller homes more desirable for first time buyers and retirees on a fixed income, and buyer’s desires to have less yard in exchange for more neighborhood perks.  Buyers with young children continue to target traditional suburban houses, while young professionals and retirees are interested in lifestyle communities or living in a city center where there are lots of cultural and culinary things to do.  Luxury spec building demand is on the rise nationally, including more townhouses and row houses with high end finishes, neighborhood perks, and naturally landscaped smaller yards with small pools or local plantings and pollinators, with smaller building footprints.  We are seeing these communities gain popularity in Charleston too.

JJ notes that the trend of retirees and young professionals moving to the Charleston area only continues to grow, and they prefer low maintenance properties to mowing and maintaining a large lawn.  He also jokes that, “it’s the South and we do things backwards. We build before we have enough roads and infrastructure.” Wanting to avoid traffic and being able to work from home has made self-sustaining communities like Nexton in Summerville, which has schools and grocery stores as part of the neighborhood, increasingly desirable.

A beautiful new townhouse listed in the Hampshire neighborhood in Park West, Mount Pleasant.

Park West in Mount Pleasant follows the lifestyle community trend and its various neighborhoods offer houses ranging in size, including townhouses.  Park West has an Olympic sized swimming pool, playgrounds, a tennis club, volleyball courts, a crabbing dock, biking and hiking paths along Toomer Creek, and 550 acres of conserved marshes and wetlands.

Mount Pleasant, Johns Island, and further West Ashley have more planned communities because they were developed later than areas closer to downtown Charleston. Oakfield, for example, is a new “master planned” Johns Island subdivision that has one story and two story houses with garages and tidy yards.  Oakfield has two large parks, a swimming pool, community pavilion with a deck, and picnic and playground spaces.

A house for sale on Kemmerlin Drive in Oakfield, Johns Island.

Poplar Grove community in Ravenel provides another great local example of a lifestyle development. It boasts an events space called the Boathouse, kayak launch, boat landing, trails, a community center with pool, and a breathtaking equestrian center with riding trails, rings, and a 22 stall, fully staffed boarding barn.  JJ says that buyers relocating to the Charleston area are looking to maximize their outdoor time and perks of our beautiful landscapes and mild winters.

Unlike other regions, though, large custom houses with luxurious yards and private boat docks, and one-of-a-kind historic houses in the city, continue to attract buyers quickly. The great Charleston area attracts a more diverse group of buyers than other parts of the state.

Best of Lowcountry living offered for sale on Ocean View Road. Listed with Charleston Empire Properties.

Price trends in the Charleston area market

Forbes reports that the average home value in South Carolina in February 2024 was $289,251, as compared to $279,095 in February 2023, and $185,205 five years ago. Charleston MLS lists the median sales price of a house in Charleston as a much higher $520,000 at the start of 2024, “showing a four percent increase from the previous year. The median price per square foot stands at $299, reflecting a 3.1% year-over-year increase”.  The slower 2023 growth value compared to the previous years is probably a result of last year’s mortgage rate hikes.

We asked JJ if South Carolina’s low property tax rates and landlord-friendly property regulations are continuing to drive growth here, and he confirms that these factors remain a driving force for people relocating to this state, both for buying primary residences and for rental or second home investments.  He notes that another development driver here is the growing employment market from large companies like Boeing, Volvo, and Mercedes that have factories and offices here.  The expanding job market is a trend that looks to continue for years, bringing more potential buyers all the time.

Real estate articles project that South Carolina property prices will rise 2.2% on average.  The Charleston area on the other hand, including Berkeley, Colleton, and Dorchester County, are likely to appreciate more, as they have for the last decade or so.  Rahnamoon explains that the price jumps of 30-40% in value during the Covid years were an anomaly, but he estimates that local property values will appreciate by around 8-10% over 2024, well above the state’s average. Those continued increases are driven by the area’s desirability for weather, history, beaches, foodie culture, and more.

Supply and Demand trends for 2024 and Beyond

 We can expect to see the supply and demand issue to continue in Charleston, a great problem for sellers but a frustration for buyers.  The fact remains that more people want to live in this beautiful part of the country than there is housing stock.  JJ explains that it remains tough to avoid a bidding war in top neighborhoods, and that buyers need to move fast if they find a house they might be interested in.  Charleston Empire Properties is regularly doing market research to inform clients about new communities in the pipeline, and assists buyers from out of state with finding their ideal property and making a bid.

Speaking to the supply and demand issue, JJ notes that a new neighborhood built by D.R. Horton on Johns Island invited realtors to view their model homes before they premiered to the public, and five unfinished houses went under contract in a matter of hours.  There’s still lots of options for buyers, however.  The Summerville area has several large subdivisions currently under construction, while Ridgeville (west of Summerville in Dorchester County) and Ravenel (south of Charleston on Savannah Highway/17) are experiencing growth. There are lots of permits underway for new residential stock.  Perks of Ravenel include nearby wetlands and unspoiled nature, while Ridgeville is near several large employers like Volvo.

The shops at Nexton, a short commute to employment hubs

Bradford Pointe by Centex Homes, for example, is a new planned community in Nexton and only about 12 miles from Volvo and even closer to other Summerville places of employment.  Nexton has an urban core with restaurants and shops, an outdoor concert pavilion, and parks and pools for most of the individual neighborhoods like Bradford Point. Learn more about Nexton at Centex

Bradford Pointe’s pool and community complex

We asked if there is an ideal time to list a house in the Lowcountry, and JJ states, “honestly, not really. We don’t have a winter situation that makes travel tough or listing picture less pretty.” Spring is a popular listing season, but summer remains popular with buyers, since children are out of school. “A lot of the industry revolves around the school year,” and that will remain that case.  Now is the perfect time to buy or sell in the greater Charleston area with Charleston Empire Properties.


Author: Christina Butler

Owner of Butler Preservation L.C., Professor of Historic Preservation at American College of the Building Arts, author of Lowcountry At High Tide (USC Press, 2020).