Whenever I arrive in Pawleys Island, SC, as I do a few times a year, I grab from the rack at the local supermarket one of those brochures that include listings of current homes for sale. When you do that enough times over the years -- and this has been a habit of mine for the last 15 years -- you get a strong sense of what is happening with prices locally.
I landed in Pawleys Island yesterday, made a grocery store run and grabbed the latest free copy of the Pawleys Island Rag, a 20-page list of current condos, townhomes and single-family homes for sale in one of the most well known and popular towns on the Carolinas coast. My wife and I have owned a condo in Pawleys Plantation for 15 years beside the 15th tee of the Jack Nicklaus course which opened in 1989. We also purchased a lot on the 16th hole just before the recession -- yuck -- on which we intended to build a single-family home. That idea is in limbo for now.
The long and short of my latest reading of the Pawleys Island Rag is that prices, finally, in Pawleys Plantation and surrounding golf communities like Heritage Plantation, The Reserve at Litchfield and the others, have risen and firmed up. The obvious bargains, including vacation condos at Pawleys Plantation that generate about 20 weeks of rental revenue for their owners each year, have vanished from the brochure's pages. Some of those units had been selling as recently as last winter for $125,000, or less than $100 per square foot. I noticed another condo currently listed for $300,000; its type had previously been listed $50,000 lower last winter.
At the other end of the spectrum, one of our favorite homes in Pawleys Plantation, with a floating and fixed dock and a view out over a wide expanse of marsh toward the island and ocean beyond, is on the market for $1.1 million, only the third or fourth such home in the community to ever top the $1 million asking-price mark.
The lack of available properties at the lower end signals that those searching for a vacation home have descended on Pawleys Island for its laid-back
As prices rise, bargains may be fewer and farther between. We note that the house a few doors from our empty lot on the 16th hole recently sold for $524,500. At 4,700 square feet, that works out to about $112 per square foot, a grand bargain for any nice golf home, which it is. And that is without consideration of the inherent value of the lot itself which, given its view down the 16th hole and out across the marsh to the island a half mile away, is probably worth $250,000 itself.
Pawleys Island and the entire Myrtle Beach area have lagged most other leisure residential, golf-oriented markets. There are two equally logical reasons why this area's real estate prices seem to be catching up now. One could be that buyers have finally figured out that Pawleys Island and its surrounding areas are undervalued compared with other golf rich areas. Or, second, this spate of buying and firming of prices in Pawleys Island may be reflective of the overall leisure real estate market up and down the east coast. For those who have been waiting to buy or build their dream homes in a warmer climate, the time for a cost-effective decision may be nigh. Contact me if you would like to get the process started.