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Vacation Home Community Snapshot: Kiawah Island

Kiwah Island
Photograph by Patrick O’Brien for Kiawah Island Real Estate

Location Just 26 miles south of Charleston, Kiawah Island features 30 miles of paved trails and 10 miles of beach.

History The island’s past reaches back to a Native American Kiawah chief who helped English colonists settle at Charlestowne Landing. The island later became an outpost for Union troops in the Civil War. Fast-forward to 1974, when the original developers created a master plan that ensured the natural environment would be preserved.

Price range Single-family homes currently start at $649,000 but can climb as high as $24 million. Villas, which start at one bedroom and one bathroom, are priced from $207,500. Cottages begin at $495,000.

Activities The private Kiawah Island Club includes a beach club, a sports complex (tennis, squash, fitness facilities), a day spa, and two golf courses. Governor’s Club members enjoy discounted fees at Kiawah Island Resort’s five championship golf courses. This includes the Ocean Course, which hosted the 2012 PGA Championship and boasts the most seaside holes in the Western Hemisphere.

Kiwah Island
Photograph by Patrick O’Brien for Kiawah Island Real Estate

What’s unique Home to 300 species of birds, Kiawah is committed to both nature and luxury. Despite an environmental study that approved 12,000 residential units, the master plan allows for fewer than half of them to be built. The Sanctuary resort and spa opened in 2004. Raised 21 feet from the ground, the building allows unobstructed views of the ocean from even the first floor. The world’s largest mechanical spade was used to plant hundreds of 50-foot-tall live oaks on the property.

Awards Kiawah was named the second-best island in the world by Condé Nast Traveler readers in 2014. Forbes Travel Guide has awarded the Sanctuary its Five Star Award every year since 2008.

This article originally appeared in our Summer 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

Atlanta home shoppers don’t mind waiting for the perfect house

Real Estate in AtlantaHome buyers and sellers in Atlanta are especially determined to get what they want, when they want it. That’s according to surveys by Owners.com, a service that offers homeowners an alternative to both a conventional real estate agency and the for-sale-by-owner model. Here are some of the key takeaways from the Owners.com data:

  • Atlantans are more determined than the average American to get their asking prices. Eighty percent of Atlanta sellers claim that getting their asking price is “most important” versus 74 percent of Americans in general.
  • Atlantans are style-conscious. Twenty-nine percent of Atlantans say that having their decor, style, or taste judged by potential buyers is what makes them most uncomfortable about selling their house, versus twenty-three percent of all Americans.
  • Atlantans are patient. A whopping 40 percent of Atlanta sellers are willing to keep their home on the market for six months to a year compared to 28 percent of all Americans. On the other hand, one quarter of Atlanta buyers are willing to keep looking for a full year, compared to 17 percent of all Americans.
  • More than half of Atlanta buyers (53 percent) say that purchasing a larger home that their family can grow into is “most important” versus 44 percent of all Americans.
  • Forty-seven percent of Atlantans (versus 35 percent of all Americans) say that buying a “move-in ready” home is their top priority and worth paying extra for.

Owners.com’s data also shows Atlantans are twice as likely to be open to buying and selling without an agent. Their service, which was founded in San Francisco in 1996, recently launched in Atlanta. Sellers pay flat fees depending on the level of services they use, with substantial savings versus standard commissions. And on the other side, Ownera.com agents actually split their commissions with the buyers they represent.

Scott McGillivary, host of HGTV’s Income Property and partner with Owners.com, says, “I’ve done some for sale by owner stuff. I’ve worked with traditional agents, and there are pitfalls to both of those scenarios. But this is something completely different. Because Owners is a brokerage, you are still working with agents; however, they are also a commission-free brokerage, which means you’re basically getting the services of a real estate agent without paying the 5 or 6 percent commissions, which is fantastic. You can still be on MLS, you can still get access to exclusive listings, and you’re going to get the exposure that you would get with a traditional agent. It’s a good evolution of where real estate is going.”

First annual Georgia Tiny House Festival draws thousands

For something so small, tiny houses are sparking a huge movement. The average American home is around 2,500 square feet; the average “tiny house” ranges from 100 to 400 square feet. There are many reasons folks are taking the concept of a close family so literally. Some people are tired of clutter, others want to be eco-friendly, and some want to be more mobile.

The first annual Georgia Tiny House Festival aimed to show Georgians what tiny house living is all about. During the three-day festival, 5,000 attendees had the chance to participate in 19 presentations, vendor and tool workshops, a movie night, a concert—and of course, tour tiny houses.

Will Johnston, founder of a new advocacy and educational group called Tiny House Atlanta, and Claudia Morris-Barclay, an Atlanta-based entertainment and lifestyle consultant, spoke about purging unnecessary items and inhabiting just a fraction of your current footprint. They maintain that a tiny home can clear the clutter in both your home and your mind.

“I want to go, be, see, and do,” Johnston said. With tiny houses, especially ones that are mobile, you can literally pick up your life and go. Even ones with permanent foundations usually create less of a financial burden, allowing more money for travel.

For people considering a downsize, Morris-Barclay suggests blocking off entire rooms or wings of your house one by one for six months. If you  successfully stay out of those spaces, you know you can get rid of what’s left in those rooms, she says. Eventually, you will pare down to true necessities. “Customize your space for the life you want to lead, not just the life you have,” she says.

In tiny houses, each piece of furniture usually has more than one use. So even if you can’t part with your average-sized home, it’s interesting to learn innovative ways to save space.

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