If you’re considering buying land to build your dream home, where do you begin? That’s a question a lot of buyers have. You can just (or maybe you can) go out and say I want that piece of dirt right there and think it’s going to be easy to build your new house every time. If you are looking at Charleston SC, here is where you’d start. There are many very important factors that one needs to consider before pulling the trigger on a home site or some land in SC. Here this page will break down all the nuances, risks, and factors real estate buyers looking to purchase land lots, agricultural hunting land, and developed home sites in Charleston SC & South Carolina (or anywhere) should know going into it.
MLS Listings Data
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Number of MLS Listings 1 - 3 of 2325
TYPES OF LOTS
The most popular kind of home site these days. If you’re wanting to build in a PUD (planned unit development) or in layman’s terms a traditional lot & block neighborhood with rules and regs usually you’re going to be ok with most of the lots for sale, as it is customary for the developer to have organized and planned out every detail for you. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some other factors you should look into (or your agent). HOAs can be a nightmare too.
- Wooded Lot
- Corner Lot
One of the biggest factors to consider when buying a lot here in the Charleston SC area (and all of the coastal regions of SC) is the grade or the land’s “levelness” if you will, with the surrounding land so that it is flat and not below the rest. As you’ll see in the graphic to the right, there are many ponds shown. That’s because when the surrounding land around you is at or just above sea level as is the case with coastal areas, developers have to account for all the rain run off, and they do this by making retention ponds. Some listing agents will say a lot is “waterfront” or “pond front”, an it maybe be. However, it is actually just a required retention pond dug for fill dirt and rain water. If you buy a lot that is near wetlands or is below grade it might cost you $15,000 in dirt just to bring the lot to grade, and level with the surrounding land. So you don’t want to buy it seeing trees, and brush only to find out after the lot has been cleared you can’t start building until you’ve spent thousands of $$ dumping truck loads of fill dirt. It might be better just to buy a lot that is already high enough, or been brought up to grade.
The three types of lots above are just common examples of what you’ll find regularly in SC. Obviously, you could have a corner wooded lot. Wooded just means it’s not on waterfront, or lake front, and the sellers agent is conveying to the buyer that you’re in a more “foresty” type community. You’ll have to have the lot cleared of trees as well. In terms of desirability, that’s really up to the people buying it and what’s important to them. If you have small children or plan to, then those people usually want something in the back of the neighborhood on a dead end road, or cul-de-sac. Corner lots are desirable to some because some people don’t want neighbors near, or want two ways to drive onto their property. Corner lots tend to be the more expensive when buying in a development because most people like the idea of having the ability for ingress & egress from two sides of the property and not having neighbors on the sides. Then again, there are also people who don’t like the idea of having cars coming and going on both sides of them.
MLS Listings Data
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Number of MLS Listings 1 - 6 of 185
The shape and size of a lot can also be a considerable factor when you’re looking to purchase “dirt” for building a home. In the case above where you’re looking to buy in a PUD, the builder/developers have already subdivided tracts of land such that it maximizes their profitability. They don’t usually take the shape of the lot into much consideration, and they design out the neighborhood to make sure they: One – get county and city building and zoning approval, and Two so they can sell as many homes as possible.
Obviously the shape of the lot will vary based on the shape and size of the land that has been developed, how the roads have been cut, sidewalks, the requirements of the city, easements, and appurtenances, etc., but above are the most generic common shapes you’ll find. Obviously, when building a home on a pie shaped lot they will be on cul-de-sac, AND it can be tricky for an architect to design (depending on size) is something to consider.
COMMON GLOSSARY OF TERMS TO KNOW WHEN CONSIDERING BUYING DIRT/LAND/LOT
- Setbacks – The amount of required space your property must be away from another home, the road etc. is the minimum distance which a building or other structure must be set back from a street or road, a river or other stream, a shore or flood plain, or any other place which is deemed to need protection.
- Easement – is a legal right to use another’s land for a specific limited purpose. In other words, when someone is granted an easement, he is granted the legal right to use the property, but the legal title to the land itself remains with the owner of the land. This usually mostly applies to things like city / neighborhood drainage easements, and utilities.
- HOA – As mentioned above if you buy a lot to build a home in a PUD you’re going to have a Home Owners Assoc. which is going to have rules and regulations you HAVE to adhere to as part of the neighborhood. If you don’t can result in fines and hassle. For this reason many people do not like PUDs.
- Regime Fees – Very similar to HOA fees (mainly just a legal name difference) in many instances, if your neighborhood has amenities, common areas etc.. there will be fees due often times at closing, monthly or quarterly to maintain and pay for those items.
- Building Restrictions – if you purchase a lot in a PUD where the developer is just selling lots and not also building homes – PUDs, city or county will have rules and restrictions that your home design must adhere to or not do. So ask for a copy of the building codes BEFORE buying the lot. Especially, if you already have architectural drawings completed or a home plan you want to use.
LAND LOT SALES TRENDS FOR CHARLESTON SC
Above is a three year graph of number of land lot listings sold in the Charleston SC region year over year since 2016.
Here is Charleston SC, which is much different from some of our state’s other major markets of Columbia (Midlands), and Greenville/Spartanburg (Upstate) flooding is a regular way of life that one must consider when owning or buying real estate in the low-country. Coastal areas such as: Sullivan’s Island, Hilton Head, Pawley’s Island, Edisto, Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Isle of Palms, and all of Charleston SC people have to always consider the floor risk. Especially if you’re looking to buy a waterfront property then building your house off the ground is a must. Virtually all the land near the coast of South Carolina will be close to or at sea level, and although direct hits from hurricanes believe it or not, are rare, tidal surge is not as rare. With high tides and deluges of rain from tropical storms you have to have flood insurance in most instances even if you’re in an X zone which technically doesn’t require it. It is still smart.