Article from USA Today April 25, 2008 in the Travel; Destinations Section
By Larry Olmsted, Special for USA TODAY
You won't hear phrases such as "up and coming," "trendy" or "newly discovered" around Hilton Head, S.C. The second-largest barrier island on the East Coast has been a premier vacation-home community for decades.
It was created in 1956 by Gen. Joseph Fraser with a novel "master plan," with one developer controlling everything from laying out roads to designing homes, a now-common model. To preserve the island's natural state, strict covenants were enacted and are maintained to this day in all 11 "plantations," as the island's mostly gated communities are known.
"We poll visitors regularly to find out why they come," says the Chamber of Commerce's Charlie Clark. "The answer we get most is 'the natural beauty.' … Fraser was maniacal about blending nature and homes. Today there are still no white houses allowed because they would stand out. No neon signs. No street lights, because they interfere with the night sky. No homes between the dunes and water. No high-rises."
For many homeowners, the appeal here is sports and recreation. The 12-mile-long, 5-mile-wide island has two dozen golf courses, including famed PGA Tour venue Harbour Town, ranked in the nation's top 20. There are five major tennis complexes with more than 100 courts, nature preserves and continuous beach spanning 12 miles. Biking and walking paths crisscross the island, and more than 250 restaurants serve a year-round population of fewer than 40,000.
In February, the island's average home price was $515,238; median, $405,000. Real estate prices are largely driven by proximity to the ocean. Plantations fall into three categories: 1) Resort communities have a mix of homes, condos (called "villas") and hotels. Facilities such as golf courses, beaches and tennis are open to the public. The biggest are Sea Pines and Palmetto Dunes. 2) Semi-private communities allow public access to golf and other amenities, but don't have hotels or allow owners to rent their homes. 3) Private communities have no public access or rentals, often allow only homes, not condos, and require owners to pay club dues for golf and other amenities.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: South Carolina PGA Tour East Coast Atlanta Falcons Chamber of Commerce Harbour Town Sea Pines Home Depot CEO Palmetto Dunes
A look at the three types of plantations
• Sea Pines (resort). The island's original development is the most extensive, with four 18-hole golf courses by top designers, including Harbour Town, a large tennis center, more than 50 shops, 10 restaurants, five miles of beach, two marinas, a yacht club and a hotel. According to Drew Butler of Charter 1 North Realty, the average price is $1.6 million for homes and $545,000 for villas; both start at about $400,000. Arthur Blank, former Home Depot CEO and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, owns a home worth at least $12 million. seapines.com
• Hilton Head Plantation (semi-private). Homeowners enjoy the privacy that comes with a no-rental policy, but amenities including three golf courses, a marina and restaurants are open to outside use. Homes average $575,000; villas, $560,000, with some starting at just over $300,000. hiltonheadplantation.com
• Long Cove Club (private). With only single-family homes, no rentals and a relatively small number of lots (570), Long Cove has a private country club aesthetic. Famed for its Pete Dye-designed golf course, it also has the largest yacht club on the Carolina coast, tennis and more. New homeowners pay a $15,000 initiation fee, plus $9,470 in annual fees, which include golf and tennis. Average home price is $965,000; starting price, about $450,000. longcoveclub.org
LIFE ON VACATION
Life on Vacation is a weekly look at a second-home market. This week: Hilton Head, S.C.
Best for: Families whose passions are split among beach and water sports, golf and tennis.Claim to fame:Preservation of nature and strict zoning for more than half a century.Don't miss:The unique indigenous Low Country cuisine: Think shrimp and grits, she-crab soup.Getting there:Small on-island Hilton Head Airport has commuter flights from US Airways and Delta Connection, while an array of airlines serve Savannah/Hilton Head International airport, 40 minutes away.Tourism information:800-523-3373, hiltonheadisland.org
ON THE MARKET
Nantucket-style in Long Cove Club on a golf lot with lagoon view
High-end price: $1,495,000 Bedrooms: 5 Bathrooms: 6.5 Size: 5,000 square feet Features: All new construction in 2007, separate living room and family room, office/study, each bedroom with private bath, large lawn.
For the latest up to date real estate information contact Charlie Fraser at CHARLES FRASER REALTY GROUP. Charlie grew up on Hilton Head and knows the real estate market as good as anyone if not better that all the agents on the island. The Fraser name is synoumous with the development of Sea Pines and pioneering a new way to develope resort residential communities.
Charlie has a team dedicated to lowcountry from residential on Hilton Head to the commercial needs of our costomers on and off the island.
Visit our website for more information.
or email us for additional inofrmation.
Charlie "Fishing For Real Estate Leads"