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Closing Notes: Go back in time to invest in the future at 5 Brigadier Dr.

By Emily Havener

A landscaped yard, a prime location and a completely updated interior make this 1975 ranch a charmer. Photo courtesy Disher, Hamrick and Myers.

In November of 2019, my husband and I bought a house in Summerville. We had gotten increasingly frustrated looking at houses in the James Island/West Ashley area, and as we climbed up, up, up Dorchester Road, we began to reconsider what we considered realistic. We ended up with a ranch house on the small side but which we were able to renovate fully — and it came on 2.5 acres. The downside? It’s at least 45 minutes away from everything.

Although the property has appreciated considerably in the past two-and-a-half years, so has everything else. Home values in the Charleston area have increased by 23 percent in the last year and 54 percent in the last five years, and inventory of homes for sale has decreased by almost 50 percent. The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors summarizes the problem:

“With a shortage of existing homes for sale, many prospective buyers are turning to new construction for their next home purchase. But with rising construction costs, many buyers are finding they can’t afford to purchase a new home. Nearly seven out of ten U.S. households can’t afford a new median-priced home, according to data recently released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which found that 69 percent of U.S. households lack the income to qualify for a mortgage of $412,506 using standard underwriting criteria.”

Realtors like Saida Russell of Disher, Hamrick and Myers are seeing prospective home buyers frustrated time and time again by being outbid. Saida said that in neighborhoods like West Ashley’s Sandhurst, Wespanee, Huntington Woods and Orange Grove, buyers are consistently paying at or more than the asking price — sometimes as much as $100,000. I spoke with one of her recent clients, who told me, “It’s unbelievable, really. You’re at the mercy of the seller. You have to make an all cash offer and waive all contingencies. Whatever they want, you have to accept.” Even a couple years ago, he was making cash offers on homes in the $500,000-$900,000 range and being outbid by up to $100,000 on homes that still needed $100,000 worth of updates.

“An offer I made was recently accepted this week on Monday; it was like an enormous breath of air. I went over a little bit but that’s just the nature of it.” He says with interest rates about to increase, people he knows are desperate to lock down their “forever” home as soon as possible. “Something’s got to give, but in Charleston, everybody wants to be close to the water; there’s only so much land you can live on and purchase, and people are getting priced out. I hate to say it but with rates increasing and the state of the market, the American dream of owning your home is becoming out of reach for many people.”

He credits Saida along with Grace Barrett with being able to ultimately find a house and make an offer that was accepted. They were able to guide him to not only the houses and locations he wanted but also to the best way to make an offer. Now more than ever, realtors are able to provide market savvy to frustrated buyers in untenable positions, and make the seemingly out-of-reach American dream a concrete reality.

One of Saida’s upcoming listings, 5 Brigadier Dr., is just north of the east end of Orange Grove Road in West Ashley’s scenic Parkshore 1 neighborhood, which backs up against the marsh. The home is located just past the first cul-de-sac off Brigadier, which then winds around and terminates at Buckingham, a short dead end in both directions; all told Brigadier is a safe, quiet street without any through traffic to contend with. Long-established trees shield the property in front and on both sides of the 0.34-acre lot, which culminates in a triangular backyard.

This fully updated 1975 brick ranch is almost 2,100 square feet with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, and it will be listed at $695,000 the second week in April. Even at this eye-popping price, Saida said she anticipates a bidding war: “Young families are taking over these neighborhoods that were first occupied by young families in the 1970s and are now occupied by folks moving to retirement homes. These are old-fashioned Beaver Cleaver style neighborhoods where kids can still trick or treat on their streets and where people know their neighbors. People want this for their children.” She cited the quality of the construction, the size of the lots with established growth, the proximity to charter schools and the ease of access to I-26 and the airport as contributing factors to desirability in these neighborhoods.

Number 5 Brigadier last sold in 1987 for $122,000, exemplifying the steep increase in value homes inside the Mark Clark corridor have enjoyed. In Parkshore, homes are consistently brick ranches or two-story traditional homes with square footage up to 4,500. The neighborhood also offers close access to Parkshore Park with tennis courts, a playground, a picnic area and walking trails as well as membership options at Parkshore Pool.

Although on the smaller size of square footage size for homes in the area, 5 Brigadier offers a number of desirable amenities: In addition to the formal living and dining room, it has an office, a den with built-in bookshelves and a fireplace, and a garage with an upper room that could easily be converted into a FROG. Additionally, talented Charleston landscape architect Robert Chestnut has designed the lawn and garden, increasing curb appeal in this already picturesque neighborhood.

There’s a saying in the investment banking world that applies to Charleston’s real estate reality: The best time to invest was yesterday; the second-best time is today. Beautiful updates, quality construction and a charming, spacious neighborhood like the ones children roamed freely 30 years ago combine to make this house a sound investment for any family.


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