Brimming with history, hospitality, and cobblestone charm, Charleston consistently ranks as one of America’s best cities in Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler’s yearly roundups — and people are taking notice. The Holy City’s population continues to swell with an increasing number of out-of-state homebuyers entering the market to enjoy the laid-back Lowcountry lifestyle.
As a local, you’ve had mixed feelings about newcomers calling your city their new home in the past. But now that you’re looking to sell your house fast, you’ll embrace any buyer who wants to make you a competitive offer. To capture these buyers’ attention, you’ll need to play up their most-wanted features, highlight that charming Charleston architecture, and price your home with precision.
Need some guidance? We’ve got your back. Our comprehensive guide to selling your house fast in Charleston includes seven insider tips from the city’s top real estate experts. Heed our advice and you’ll make a prompt and pretty penny off of your timeless wrought-iron maiden.
The charm of Charleston: An overview of the real estate market
According to Forbes, Charleston is indeed in a seller’s market. As of 2020, the housing inventory is down by 42.2% year-over-year — a short supply for the city’s growing buyer pool. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Charleston has a population growth rate that is triple the U.S. average, with an increase of 20.7% in the past 10 years. As a result, homes are selling faster for more money than ever. In 2020, homes sold 22 days faster for 7.4% more than the previous year.
A report released by the National Association of Realtors projects that Charleston’s housing market will remain steady and ranks the Southern city as a top 10 performing metro for the next three to five years.
In this seller’s market, you’re likely to sell your home fast so long as you set yourself up for success. Here are our seven tips to help you pull off the fastest sale possible:
1. For a swift sale, attract Charleston’s primary buyer groups
“It’s not just those trading in their snow shovels for sunscreen that find themselves calling Charleston home,” shares Kevin Richter, a top Charleston real estate agent who sells homes 39% quicker than the average agent. Charleston attracts a variety of local and out-of-state buyers, all looking to settle into the charming coastal lifestyle.
Still, if you want to sell your Charleston home fast, you’ll want to attract the market’s largest buyer groups: military families, retirees, and millennial Yankees relocating from the Northeast.
Richter explains that the abundance of military bases provides a revolving door of military families moving in and out of the greater Charleston area. With more than 22,000 employees at Joint Base Charleston and a new U.S. Coast Guard superbase in the pipeline, the relocation rates are set to soar. Here’s how you can capture quick offers from military buyers:
- Conduct a pre-listing home inspection and tackle all home repairs and maintenance before you list so you can market your home as move-in ready.
- Highlight your home’s proximity to military bases in the listing description.
- Describe the area’s family-friendly features, including nearby parks, quality schools, and low-traffic neighborhood streets.
- Work with a real estate agent who is a certified Military Relocation Professional (MPR); they’ll understand the processes and procedures military families go through to help you market and sell your home effectively to these buyers.
With warm weather, a laidback lifestyle, and a property tax rate of just 0.56%, it’s no wonder Charleston is a hub for retirees. Here are a few tips to influence retirees to choose your home for their golden years:
- In your listing, mention your home’s senior-friendly features, such as the single-story floor plan and hand-rails in the bathroom.
- Keep your landscaping low-maintenance with native ornamental grasses like Weeping Sedge and Japanese Sweet Flag.
- Highlight local amenities relevant for seniors in the listing, including recreation and health centers.
Recently relocated millennials
With a 58% millennial growth rate from 2000 to 2012 and an average age of 38, Charleston has become a millennial mecca. The city’s $89 billion tech industry has doubled since 2005, with companies like Google and Boeing bringing many young professionals to the region. Here are our best tricks for enticing millennial buyers:
- Appeal to tech-lovers with smart home features and a dialed-in home office.
- Leverage your locale by pointing out your home’s proximity to natural, cultural, and foodie hot spots in the listing.
- Make improvements that are energy-efficient and sustainable, such as adding insulation or new Energy Star appliances.
2. List your home in April to catch Charleston’s peak selling season
According to HomeLight’s market data, Charleston homes sold in July sell nine days faster than the yearly average. Since it typically takes three months from list to close, you should list your home in April to sell your house fast — right after that much-needed spring cleaning!
However, if you can’t optimize your listing time, don’t sweat it. Richter shares that Charleston’s warm climate and rotating military population keep the market steady year-round.
3. Enhance your storage space for buyers bound to miss their basements
Richter explains the importance of highlighting storage areas such as your attic or garage:
“On the thread of the relocation folks, everyone has basements up in the Northeast — we don’t. Having storage space up in the attic or in the garage can be a huge pull for someone moving from a 5,000 square foot home where half of it is your basement.”
Your first step to showing off these spaces? Declutter. Melanie Bias, CEO and senior designer of award-winning Charleston staging company Southern Charm Staging, shares that clutter is most sellers’ main interior problem, especially those who have lived in their homes for 30-plus years.
Once you’ve decluttered, install organizers to tidy up your remaining belongings. Include photos of these freshly organized spaces in your home listing so buyers know your home has plenty of storage before they even step foot inside.
4. Stage a backyard sweeter than Southern tea
“What’s so unique and special about Charleston is the outdoors: the weather, gorgeous sunsets, wonderful climate for the majority of the year. Sellers need to spend as much time beautifying their backyard or showcasing their sunporch,” shares Bias.
Transform your backyard into a private oasis with these easy upgrades:
- Assess your seating situation: Charleston’s salty humid air does a number on outdoor furniture. Could your wrought iron patio set from 2002 use a new coat of spray paint or a trip to the trash bin? If it’s the latter, hop on Craigslist to snag a used set in better condition for an affordable swap.
- Add a firepit: Create a unique outdoor entertaining space with a new firepit. You can even build one DIY-style, as Bias notes: “With a few pavers, some river rocks, and a little elbow grease, you now have an outdoor destination that the house down the street — and your competition — does not.”
- Improve your landscaping: While it may be tempting to revamp your entire yard, remember that a frugal facelift can often bring a stronger return on investment. Create a landscaping edge by layering concrete, stone, or plastic. Plant a few low-maintenance flowering shrubs in hanging baskets from your porch or in planters near the patio. Finally, achieve a “finished” look by adding a layer of pine straw to your flower beds.
5. Offer hurricane-proofing and protection
Since hurricanes periodically hit the region, Charleston homes must withstand strong winds and heavy rainfall. Offer out-of-state buyers some peace of mind by reassuring them that your home is ready to weather the storm:
- Highlight your home’s weather-resistant features like storm windows or doors.
- Tackle maintenance to reduce the impact of a future storm, such as trimming trees and replacing or cleaning rain gutters.
- Offer to pay for the first year of disaster insurance to incentivize quick offers.
6. Style an interior that complements the architecture
“The architecture by far is one of the more unique assets that Charleston has,” Bias comments. Still, she often sees homeowners with historical homes decorating with modern fixtures and furnishings that diminish their property’s character.
“The purpose of ‘refresh’ is to highlight the character of the home, not conceal it,” Bias explains. If you’re selling an older home, Bias recommends decorating with transitional furniture and decor and painting the walls warmer earth tones as opposed to the contemporary grays.
If you’re selling a newer home, on the other hand, then embracing modern coastal design is the way to go. Modern coastal design is a minimalist aesthetic defined by neutral colors, weathered textures, and white-washed woods reminiscent of the coastline’s natural elements. But don’t get carried away with kitschy seashells, anchors, and rope chandeliers. Keep your interior neutral with light wood-framed furniture, navy accent pillows, woven rugs, and light blue or sand-colored paint.
7. Pinpoint a precise listing with the help of a top agent
The median sale price for a single-family home in Charleston sits around $423,000, according to the Trident Association of Realtors. For a rough estimate of your home’s market value, plug your home’s address and details HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator — we’ll provide you with a free estimate in less than two minutes.
Once you know your ballpark home value, partner with a top real estate agent to pinpoint the perfect listing price that encourages quick offers while securing the highest possible sale. Richter explains that honing in on a listing price is particularly challenging in the Charleston market due to the mix of home styles and ages, including historical and new prefab homes. To determine an accurate listing price, an experienced agent will conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA) and analyze recent home sale prices based on how similar those properties are to your home.
Here’s an overview of how your agent arrives at a competitive listing price:
- Analyze sale prices of comparable properties in your local area that sold recently.
- Weigh in your home’s unique features, such as recent upgrades, yard slope, desirability of finishes, and architectural style.
- Evaluate whether home prices in your neighborhood are on the rise, stable, or cooling down.
- Determine the best pricing strategy for your selling goals.
But don’t leave this task up to just any agent: The top 3% agents in Charleston sell homes on average 31 days faster than their peers. Find top agents near you with HomeLight’s Agent Finder. We’ll match you with the best three agents for your home sale based on transaction data, including the agent’s average days on market, average list-to-sale price, total transactions, and client reviews.
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