Market Report - Beaufort South Carolina

Beaufort South Carolina Happiest Seaside Town

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Out of the limelight in 2014 but hardly forgotten, Beaufort South Carolina captured the hearts and attention of America in 2013 when Coastal Living Magazine named Beaufort America’s Happiest Seaside Town. In the same year, American Idol named Candace Glover its winner and made the people of Beaufort proud as their hometown sweetheart became a superstar. Also in 2013, the overwhelming happy reviews from the Coosaw Point property owners nabbed the community the 2013 Bliss Award for Happiest Community of the Year

Situated about an hour north of Hilton Head Island and about 1.5 hours south of Charleston, Beaufort is a laid back fishing village with fantastic restaurants, an intriguing art venue and scenic natural beauty hard to compare. Dozens of movies have been filmed at this South Carolina waterfront community. The tides fluctuate as much as 8 feet daily exposing oyster beds and changing the scenery by the hour. The Sea Islands are the most unique and protrude out into the Atlantic Ocean across the Woods Memorial Bridge, Beaufort’s famous landmark. 

Gated communities can be found on the Sea Islands and on the mainland. The Sea Islands consist of Lady’s Island, St. Helena Island, Hunting Island and Fripp Island. The Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort (MCAS) is located on the mainland and in the heart of Beaufort. Approximately 4,700 service personnel serve at the station along with a fleet of F-18’s and soon more F-35B Lighting II fighter jets, some of the noisiest jets in the fleet.

As the wife of a marine, I fully support all branches of the military however as a real estate broker, it’s hard to ignore the impact the increased air traffic and noise may have in the real estate world on the small, charming seaside town of Beaufort. 

According to the 2013 Air Installations Compatible Use Zones (AICUZ) Study for MCAS Beaufort, air traffic is estimated to increase 278% or from 38,042 flights per year to 106,030 by 2023. If you stand in a neighborhood near the base when a jet takes off as I have, the sound is intense. Folks who prefer to live away from the increasing noise pollution from the MCAS military base can easily do so by living on the Sea Islands or in Beaufort homes further south near Okatie. According to Trulia, Beaufort home prices hit bottom in 2012 averaging $225k. Two years later, the average home price is $236k, a meager 4% increase in 24 months. We will be watching this trend carefully. 



Built upon Lady’s Island, this charming waterfront community is home to some of the most beautiful Lowcountry homes and friendly neighbors. Majestic Live Oak trees draped in Spanish moss shade the roadways leading into the neighborhood. Along the river, an 11,000 square foot three story River Club and resort-style swimming pool beckon to entertain. Additional amenities include a 200 foot community boat dock connecting to the ACE Basin and St. Helena Sound, a boat ramp, authentic crab shack, outdoor living room overlooking a private lake, lighted tennis courts and children’s playground. Approximately 100 homes have been built to date of the 400 planned. K Hovnanian Homes recently partnered up with the project and has put together a collection of homes for Coosaw Point flanked with sweeping porches and designed to capture natural light. Homes in the Coosaw Point neighborhood feature detached garages, energy efficient products and upgraded finishes. New homes packages begin in the low $400k’s or resales are available. We observed 4 homes under construction during our visit. 

In 2013, Coosaw Point had 8 home sales averaging $405k and 8 lot sales averaging $32k. HOA fees are low at $1,950 per year. Coosaw Point property owners shared their satisfaction about developer Robert Gallant with us scoring the community 91 out of 100!


Also located on the Sea Islands, Dataw Island is situated on a private peninsular and is known for its two championship golf courses that were completely renovated in 2012. Property owners are required to become members of the club. The initiation fee for improved property is $15k with monthly dues of $275 plus the $175 per month for HOA fees. Croquet, golf and tennis dues are extra:

  • Croquet - $14 a month unlimited
  • Golf - $350 a month unlimited
  • Tennis - $80 a month unlimited

A membership with all the bells and whistles could easily run about $900 a month which is not bad considering the high quality of amenities and its close proximity to downtown Beaufort and Hunting Island State Park. The majority of residents at Dataw Island are seasonal and enjoy the South Carolina waterfront community for vacation and as second homes. 

The renovated 25,000 square foot clubhouse is beautiful! Amenities include a top notch tennis facility, health and wellness center, privately owned deepwater marina with 83 wet slips and two croquet courses. Approximately 800 homes are built of the 1,000 planned. In 2013, Dataw Island realized 48 home sales averaging $391k and 8 lot sales averaging $128k. The lot sales price is slightly distorted because waterfront lots cost much more. Breaking those apart, non-waterfront lots averaged $8k while waterfront lots averaged $263k.


Our visit was during the middle of August so naturally Fripp Island was busy with vacationers. The island community is golf cart friendly and folks use them. In fact, you’ll find more golf carts and bikes clogging up the roadways than cars. Fripp Island is situated on the furthest most point of the Sea Islands. Only one bridge on and off, the island is tightly controlled. Club members enjoy 5 swimming pools, a private beach, 10 dining venues, 10 tennis courts, a full service deepwater marina and two golf courses. The island is always hustling and bustling with activity such as fishing tournaments, 5k races, themed events, guided nature adventures, arts & crafts and kids activities. 

Fripp Island is an excellent place to find a beachfront condominium or golf course home that can be rented out. In 2013, sales were brisk. There were 48 Fripp Island homes sold averaging $466k and 10 lots sold averaging $96k. Of the 48 homes purchased,12 of them were sold for under $300k and 3 for over $1 million. Fripp Island HOA fees and membership fees haven’t changed. HOA fees are $940 a year. To access amenities, property owners must join the club. Initiation fees are $20k plus $6k annually for golf and $2,700 annually for a social club membership. Additional court fees apply for tennis.


This was our first visit to the 400 acre Cat Island located across from Parris Island on Lady’s Island. The Sanctuary Golf Club and South Carolina waterfront community attracted our attention because of the waterfront homes. Beaufort SC homes here begin in the mid $400k’s and exceed $1 million. The established neighborhood boasts a George Cobb designed golf course open to the public, golf clubhouse with dining, three swimming pools, two tennis courts, fitness center and boat landing. Club dues are low at $4,068 per year with NO initiation fee. Property owners not interested in golf can become social club members at $1,872 per year. In 2013, there were 10 Cat Island homes sold for an average of $401k. Six lots were sold averaging $69k. HOA fees at Cat Island are $410 per year.


We’ve always been cautiously optimistic about Habersham. No one can argue this South Carolina waterfront community has incredible curb appeal. Our concern is its location about 5 miles from the MCAS military base making it incredibly convenient for property owners serving on the base yet with the airport expansion and arrival of more F-35’s in 2015, folks seeking a quiet place to live in the Lowcountry may want to look elsewhere. Contrary to our concern, sales have been brisk over the past 5 years and in 2014, Habersham was named one of the first Southern Living Inspired Communities

Habersham is a classic example of new urbanism. A neighborhood with park-like squares and where residents can walk to the village for pizza or a beer. Habersham also has an excellent farmers market within the community open on the first friday of the month.  Amenities include a community boat dock and pavilion, swimming pool, 11 community parks and tennis courts. In 2013, there were 42 Habersham homes sold for an average of $379k and 44 lots sold averaging $68k. HOA fees at Habersham begin at $1,100 per year. Before you go to contract for property at Habersham, ask to read the AICUZ Disclosure Form related to the MCAS military base. 

As of today, there were 33 homes and 69 lots for sale in Habersham according to the MLS. 


The white picket fenced lined streets are quick to paint a smile upon your face as you enter this Beaufort gated community. Situated along Battery Creek, the peaceful, tight knit neighborhood is set in a park-like setting with towering Live Oak trees draped in Spanish moss and native Magnolia trees. Just under 200 homes will be built at the project’s completion. We estimate the community is about 75% built out. Architectural styles here are the epitome of the Lowcountry; one and two story homes with wrap around porches and balconies. The majority of the residents are full time residents. Amenities completed include a clubhouse, swimming pool, two lighted tennis courts, fitness center, children’s playground, community pier and dock. Battery Creek is one of the finest kayaking rivers in the area. In 2013, there were two Island of Beaufort homes sold. One for $407k and one for $1.15 million. Two lots were sold in the same period averaging $237k. HOA fees are low at $1,600 a year and the community is currently not in the AICUZ zone.


This was our first visit to the community nestled along the banks of Battery Creek and on the southern end of Beaufort. Pickney Retreat is a boutique community with a rich plantation history and now consists of 77 homesites. There are 18 homes built to date and 6 were under construction. The community was purchased out of foreclosure in 2012 by developer East West Communities and the neighborhood is doing well. This national real estate developer has been building master planned communities since 1972 in seven states. Completed amenities include a gated entrance, swimming pool, covered pavilion with a fireplace and outdoor grill, pool house with kitchen facilities, the Retreat House guest accommodations, a community pier and dock and walking trails.

Although Pickney Retreat has a Beaufort address, Pickney Retreat is thrilled to be out AICUZ zone and away from the ever changing MCAS military base. Lots begin in the $50k’s and developer financing is available. Waterfront lots are available in the high $100k’s. New cottage homes begin in the $300k’s. HOA fees are low at $1,800 a year.

This is just a sampling of the many South Carolina waterfront communities in Beaufort. If you’re learning about the area for the first time, ask for our free Beaufort relocation information. It’s our pleasure to help!

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