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Ussery Group Real Estate. A Proud Member of Charter One Realty. 843-757-7712

A Proud Member of Charter One Realty

Blog Archives

Just Sold

The Ussery Group’s been busy in 2013…







PENDING 56 Cumberland (list price: $599K)


PENDING 42 Holly Grove Road (list price: $998K)


PENDING 49 Inverness Drive (list price: $795K)


PENDING 4 Bellfield Court (list price: $599K)

The Train is Leaving the Station


After nearly 4 years of weak demand and excess supply, 2012 was the year of the buyer.  The convergence of pent up demand, exceptional values, and historically low interest rates spurred a housing recovery that appears to be gaining even more steam as we move into 2013.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that US home prices nationwide increased on a year over year basis by 6.3% in October, the biggest increase since June 2006.  They went on to report that nearly three-quarters of investors polled by JP Morgan expect home prices to rise 5% in 2013.

JP Morgan expects US home prices to rise between 3.4% and 9.7%.

The Lowcountry is primed for an exceptional 2013.  Values are remarkable, rates are still at historic levels, and buyer activity continues to grow.  If you’re on the sidelines, now is the time to get involved.

Give me a call for a summary of the best buys in the Lowcountry.  (843) 384-8105

44% Increase in the Sale of Luxury Homes

We thought we’d share the most recent post by KCM regarding a recent report from NAR and the WSJ (see below).  More good news for the marketplace!

“The National Association of Realtors (NAR) in their last Existing Home Sales Report revealed that sales of homes over $1 million dollars in the country increased 44.1% over the same period last year. One of the reasons for this increase is that financing in the jumbo mortgage market is becoming more readily available.

In an article last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that sales of upper-end homes are increasing by a larger percentage than the rest of the housing market. They came to this conclusion by looking at mortgages in this sector. Here is the breakdown:

  • Home sales using a jumbo mortgage* had year-over-year growth of 7.9% through September, compared with 2.7% for non-jumbo sales
  • Homes sold in major metro areas with a loan of $1 million or more were up almost 28% through September compared with the same period last year. Similar sales with loans of less than $1 million rose 8.5%.

The luxury market is again emerging. It may be time to buy the home you have always dreamt about.”

Hilton Head Island real estate and Bluffton real estate have experienced significant upward trends in unit sales over the last 24 months.  While overpriced properties remain stagnant, properly priced properties can sell quickly.  It’s not uncommon for great values to sell within days or weeks of going on the market.

One of a Kind

While we wear a number of different hats, one of our primary jobs is to notify our clients of singularly unique opportunities as they arise.  That category (“singularly unique”) can reflect a literal one of a kind scenario, and it can reflect a one of a kind value.  On rare occasion  however, there are properties that reflect both.  J 34 Colleton River is such a property.

The image above is the view from homesite J 34!  It is widely considered to be one of the most compelling view in the Lowcountry.  And as of yesterday, it’s available.

Offered at $385,000, this homesite is the last remaining homesite on Somerset (the other 3 have homes on them) that enjoys this unobstructed view of 16, 17, 18 and the Colleton River.

If you’d like more information about this unique opportunity or about Colleton River don’t hesitate to call me directly.  (843) 384-4463.


Hurricanes & The Lowcountry

Our thoughts and prayers are with the folks in the Northeast who are bracing today for Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.  Due to it’s breadth and timing (full moon / high tide) the potential for damage appears to be significant.

The scope of Sandy is already significant both in size and influence.  In conjunction with Bloomberg’s evacuation of lower Manhattan, the NYSE is closed today (for the first time since 9/11) and if it’s closed again tomorrow it will be the first time since 1988 that the market has been closed for 2 days in a row due to weather.

The topic of hurricanes is a familiar one for us in Lowcountry real estate.  For one reason or another, we’re frequently asked about risk associated with hurricanes in the area.  Most prospective home owners are surprised to learn that we haven’t had a close scuffle with  a hurricane in well over 30 years.

The map below is from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adiministration) and depicts all hurricane traffic over the last 20 years that tracked within 200 nautical miles of the Lowcountry.  While the North Carolina coast took the vast majority of the hits, the South Carolina Lowcountry faired very very well…


There are a litany of theories relative to storm patterns, but most are tied to the gulf stream and it’s proximity to land.  The Gulf Stream is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic Ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the US and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  The warm waters of the gulf stream provide fuel for hurricanes prior to making landfall.  To that end, your proximity to such an energy source seems to play a significant role in the likelihood that you’ll encounter a hurricane.

The image below depicts the Gulf Stream’s flow.  South Florida and Eastern North Carolina represent the closest proximity, while the Lowcountry (due south of Pittsburgh) is roughly 75 miles away from the gulf stream.  It’s difficult to ignore the relationship between the gulf stream and the historical pattern of east coast hurricanes…

Clearly (per our somewhat Bush league explanation of storm patterns), we’re not meteorologists… nor do we have a crystal ball.  But history does tend to be a good predictor of the future when it comes to weather, and to date we’ve been very fortunate to live in the Lowcountry; rather than some other hurricane prone regions of the coast.

All things being equal, however, we’ll take hurricanes all day long over other natural disasters that frequent other regions of the country (landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes… etc) for one elemental reason… advanced notice.  With a hurricane, residents on the east coast enjoy DAYS of notice to prepare and/or avoid the storm.

Lowcountry Honored by Conde Nast Traveler

In their annual “Reader’s Choice” awards, the Lowcountry was bestowed some rather high praise in 2012…

  • Hilton Head Island was honored as one of America’s Top 10 Island Destinations.
  • The Inn at Palmetto Bluff was named the 17th Best Resort in the World
  • The Inn at Harbor Town was ranked a Top 20 Resort in the South
  • The Disney Hilton Head Resort was also ranked a Top 20 Resort in the South

If you follow Lowcountry real estate you know that our market is not driven by industry.  It’s driven by retirement.  Each year we have 2,500,000 vacationers visit the area.  And each year a percentage of them decide to throw away the snow shovel and overcoats and move south.   In fact, as of January 2011 there are 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day for the next 18 years.  And while we can’t be certain how many of them will move to the Lowcountry, we’re fairly confident no one is retiring to Cleveland!

Rankings such as the honors bestowed by the readers of Conde Nast reinforce the Lowcountry’s brand and in doing so add to the future value of area real estate.

Real estate values and rates are at all time lows, rankings are going through the roof, and you’re still waiting to buy?  What are you waiting for?  If not now… when?

Did You Know…

Hilton Head Island real estate is unquestionably experiencing a rebound.  After 5 years of sliding values, we’re seeing inventories drop and the market shore up in many communities.

It’s interesting, however, to note the changes from the height of the market to today.  We took two 24 month periods (05/06 & the last 24 months) and briefly compared the two…


05/06 Market:

  • 2,081 Home Sales
  • Average Sale Price: $954K
  • High: $9.2M – Double Oceanfront (Lot) in Sea Pines
  • Low: $145K – Fish Haul (Mitchelville)

10/10 – 10/12 Market:

  • 1,375 Home Sales
  • Average Sale Price: $642K
  • High: $6.5M (spectacular) Oceanfront Home in Sea Pines
  • Low: $4,950 – Mitchelville
Timing is everything… and if you’re buying real estate today, your timing is perfect!   And for those of you who care less about the data but would like to get a flavor for what $6.5M buys these days….

A Lesson from London’s Smallest Apartment

London’s smallest apartment is 10 ft by 8 ft… in total.  And it’s under contract for over $280,000!  Incredible.

Click Here to watch the CNN video clip about the “residence”.

Real estate is a funny thing.  Our perspective of value is often colored by our experiences or our circumstances; which is to say that value is in the eye of the beholder (to just dive headfirst into the cliche).

Let’s take two buyers who are looking at the same Lowcountry property.  One buyer is from Manhattan and is accustomed to paying well north of $1.5M for a reasonably located 900 sq ft apartment on the Upper West Side.   The other buyer is from Charlotte and is accustomed to paying $450K for a custom 4,000 sq ft home.  Both have legitimate experiences from which to draw upon… but both would be wrong to use said experiences to inform value in the Lowcountry.  All markets are local.  If you’re buying, make sure you have a Realtor who can provide a wealth of market information from which you can then make the best (informed) decision for your family.



The Sporting Life

The South Carolina Lowcountry has long been known for its gorgeous beaches and spectacular golf.  But the Lowcountry also has a rich tradition of the Sporting Life that often goes unnoticed.  Hunting and fishing are a favorite past time of many area residents and a frequent activity for many of our seasonal property owners.

If you’re new to the area, or if you’re looking to experience wing shooting for the first time, Turkey Hill is a great place to start for quail, dove, turkey, and duck:

“At Turkey Hill Plantation, thousands of acres are maintained and preserved for use as bird woods. A typical quail hunt begins at 9 in the morning with a detailed safety orientation.  Guests set out on a hunt wagon accompanied by a driver, relays of eager dogs, and experienced guides on horseback. Expect lots of coveys (some wild), the joys of working with well-trained bird dogs, beautiful and varied terrain, and last but not least cameraderie. Depending on the weather, a home made meal or box lunch is served outdoors at a lunch shed or back at the various houses. Afternoon hunts begin again around 2 and conclude just about when the sun appears over the yardarm, usually around 5.”

Perhaps the Lowcountry’s best kept secret, however, is fly fishing.  While chasing Tarpon, Jack Crevalle, and Saltwater Trout is certainly on the menu… stalking tailing Red Fish on the salt flats is hard to beat.  1 part hunting, 1 part fishing, 1 part nature watching… it’s an experience that’s as compelling as it is unique.

If you’re new to the sport or would like to learn more about our fishery, Orvis conducts a fantastic fly fishing school at Oldfield.  Participants tell us that Orvis does an incredible job with the program(s) and that it’s well worth the time and investment to learn from some of the best in the business. Click Here for details.

If you need any recommendations on a guide or outfitter just shoot me an email or a call and I’ll be happy to help.

Seasonality & the Market

Hilton Head Island and Bluffton real estate activity ebbs and flows with the seasons.  Unlike metropolitan markets that that are more closely tied to  industry, Lowcountry real estate is primarily driven by resort/vacation activity and retirees relocating from the Midwest and Northeast.  To that end, our market(s) tend to see unit sales spikes during specific seasons.

For example, resort communities (Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes, and Port Royal) featuring second homes and rental properties have historically enjoyed active Summer markets as they’re buyer tends to be in town enjoying Hilton Head’s beaches, boating, nightlife, and tennis.  Private golf club communities (Colleton River, Belfair, Berkeley Hall, Wexford, and Long Cove) on the Island and in Bluffton tend to be far busier during the Fall and Spring as the avid golfers tend to gravitate to the area when the weather is most temperate.

For buyers, understanding seasonality is important relative to selection (getting out ahead of the curve) and negotiating power.  When buyers wait until the season to pick up properties, sellers often become more bullish as they see and hear about sales around them.  Pre-season buying provides buyers with far more leverage.

Likewise, understanding seasonality is important for sellers.  Price changes to meet the market during an off-season are rarely effective and typically waste any potential momentum that was to be gained by the price drop.