Blog Articles

We focus our blog on highlighting important information that buyers should know about as well as trends affecting Hilton Head's oceanfront communities.

March 31, 2020

Leamington Condos: An Oceanfront Community You May Not Know About

Leamington Rental Condos
Pictured above: Windsor Court, Windsor Place and Barrington

If you are considering Hilton Head Oceanfront condos, you have half a dozen communities to choose from. Some are right next to restaurants, bars and shops and some are more removed from the hustle and bustle. The condos within the Leamington short-term rental section of Palmetto Dunes are surprisingly quiet even during the busiest months of the year. Many buyers that begin their search for an oceanfront condo are often unaware of this area. Here's what you need to know:

Quick Facts:

  • 7 Complexes
  • Around 500 units
  • Short-term rentals are allowed
  • Entrance through the Palmetto Dunes South Gate
  • Between the Omni Hotel and the Leamington residential section gates
  • Relatively recent construction
  • Low POA fees and no transfer fee

Panoramic Ocean Views

There are 4 oceanfront complexes that include 8 buildings:

All have 1, 2 and 3 bedroom floor plans and oceanfront pools that are seasonally heated. Hampton Place, Windsor Court and Windsor Place were developed around the same time and have similar floor plans.

Leamington Rental Condos
Leamington Condos: Between the ocean and the 11-mile lagoon system

Condos That "Feel Like A House"

Here are the 3 ocean-oriented complexes:

While they don't offer oceanfront views, they have more square footage and are a 3-5 minute walk to the beach. Wendover Dunes is on the ocean side of the street. Huntington and Abbington are across the street from the beach and have expansive views of the 11-mile lagoon system.

Search all Leamington condos that are on the market. Contact us with any questions about Leamington condos.

Posted in Palmetto Dunes
Feb. 16, 2020

Hilton Head Island Airport: Everything You Need To Know

Hilton Head Airport
Hilton Head Airport

Recent Runway Expansion Means More Direct Flights

When Charles Fraser's team was originally planning a Hilton Head Island airport, they were considering the area where the Sea Pines Forest Preserve is now, but Fraser was having none of that. Instead, Hilton Head Airport (HHH) opened on the Northern end of the island in 1967. A fun fact is that Arnold Palmer landed the first plane at Hilton Head Airport. Since then it has been mostly a hub for private jets, and a connection to Charlotte, but now a recent runway expansion has led to the addition of more direct flights to other major cities and hubs. Here are all the important things you need to know.

1. Where is Hilton Head Airport located? It’s on the North end of the island about a 10 minutes’ drive to Palmetto Dunes, 15 minutes to Sea Pines, 25 minutes to Old Town Bluffton, and 45 minutes to Montage Palmetto Bluff. Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH) and Savannah /Hilton Head Island International Airport (SAV) are not the same airport. SAV is about 45 miles from Hilton Head’s beaches and resorts while HHH is right on the island just minutes from the ocean.

2. How does the Hilton Head Airport compare to the Savannah Airport? HHH airport is much smaller than SAV airport. It has a very limited food offering, and parking space is much less than SAV, but usually there is no shortage of spaces (see below for details).

3. What are the hours? The airport opens 90 minutes before the first flight and closes 1 hour after the last flight.

4. What were the recent changes made? The airport's one runway was extended to 5,000 feet in length and 100 feet in width hoping to attract more air service-which it has.

5. What airlines fly into it and what are the direct flights?

Current Flights:
American Airlines: To/from Charlotte Douglas International Airport and seasonal Saturday/Sunday service to Washington Reagan Airport.
Delta Airlines: To/from Atlanta

Starting In Spring 2020:
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines: To/from Charlotte, Washington, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Newark.
American Airlines: Seasonal Saturday flights to/from their hubs of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport.
United Airlines: Seasonal, twice-daily flights to/from Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare, and New York / Newark.

Starting In Summer 2020:
Delta Airlines: Seasonal service to/from New York LaGuardia [LGA].

6. What ground transportation is offered? Hotels on Hilton Head Island do not provide shuttle service to patrons arriving at the Hilton Head Island Airport. Most arriving passengers have pre-arranged rental cars or take a taxi upon arrival. All rental cars, of the eight on-site companies, are within 200 feet of the terminal building. Taxi cabs line up at the taxi stand (upon exiting the building, the taxi stand is on the right) for each scheduled airline arrival.

7. Do they offer long term parking and what do you need to know? There's now only one parking lot and parking costs a flat rate of $10 per day. All airport parking is pre-paid using the automated parking machine kiosks located outside the middle entrance to the terminal. Your license plate number is required to purchase your ticket. The first 2 hours of parking are free. For more information, call Republic Parking at (843) 415-5499.

Long Term Parking at Hilton Head Airport
Long Term Parking Is Available at HHH

8. What rental car companies are there? Guests arriving via private aircraft can call a taxi upon arrival or make rental car reservations. However, general aviation customers are encouraged to make their rental car reservations through our FBO, Signature Flight Support.
Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Thrifty, and Enterprise are all on-site. All of them are open weekdays from either 8 or 9 am - 6 or 7 pm. And Dollar and Thrifty have limited weekend hours of 9 am to 2:30 pm/Saturday. 9 am to 12:00 pm/Sunday.

9. Is there anywhere to eat? The food offering at HHH is very limited and more of a "grab and go" situation. However, there are plenty of amazing restaurants nearby. Some of the closest are Mixx on Main Street, and just a little further down Main Street you'll find local favorites like Wise Guys, Frankie Bones, Ruan Thai Hut, and Mangiamo's Pizza-which you'll want to avoid if you're a Michigan Wolverine fan as let's just say they take their Ohio State Buckeye pride very seriously!

10. How many gates does it have? There are only four gates.

While you are in town…

It's easier than ever to get to this truly unique island. That means it's becoming an even more attractive destination to live and vacation. While you are in town, we would be happy to show you what's on the market. Search our website for all Hilton Head homes, condos, villas and lots for sale. We've focused on Hilton Head real estate for almost 50 years. If you're thinking of buying or selling a home on the island, contact us.

Posted in First-Time Buyers
Jan. 7, 2020

5 Reasons To Love Sea Pines

5 Reasons To Love Sea Pines
The view from one of the oceanside Sea Pines's oceanside streets 

Sea Pines is the heart of Hilton Head Island life.

In Travel + Leisure Magazine’s World’s Best Awards, readers named Hilton Head the best island in the continental U.S. for the fourth consecutive year. Plus, they voted Hilton Head the #2 island in the world for 4 years running. One of the main places that make this island so special is Sea Pines. It has it all. Natural beauty and island wildlife around every swaying palm and meandering marsh stream, miles of sandy beaches and Lowcountry coastline, the only PGA Tour event in South Carolina, top-tier restaurants, a stunning full-service marina right on the Intracoastal Waterway, all types of unique shops, boundless outdoor activities, and a wide variety of properties for you to call your island home.

Let’s explore 5 highlights that make Sea Pines the epitome of Hilton Head Island living:

The view from Harbour Town
The view from Harbour Town

1. An island icon: Harbour Town

Harbour Town Yacht Basin was designed after a famous harbor in Portofino, Italy, under the guide of Charles Fraser, the founder and developer of The Sea Pines Resort. Known the world over by the iconic red-and-white-striped Harbour Town Lighthouse, this full-service marina offers an array of everything from shops and restaurants to watersports, fishing charters and sightseeing cruises. You'll also find world-class golf, tennis, live music at the Liberty Oak and a spacious playground for the kids. Harbour Town is a hub of island life for residents and visitors alike.

2. Dining al fresco by the sea at The Beach Club

Toward the ocean side of Sea Pines, you'll find miles of sweeping beach and two of the very few oceanfront dining spots on the island. Both of these restaurants feature sweeping oceanfront views from The Beach Club:

Coast: A beautifully appointed restaurant and beach bar. Dine on fresh oysters, broiled Mahi-Mahi tacos and other seafood fare as you watch the waves roll in.
Ocean Lounge: A stunning, second-floor bar/restaurant where you can take in breath-taking, elevated views of the Atlantic Ocean while sipping your favorite cocktail.

During the peak season, parking at The Beach Club can be difficult. Here's what you need to know.

3. Home to only PGA Tour event in South Carolina: RBC Heritage

The RBC Heritage golf tournament, located at Harbour Town Golf Links near Harbour Town in Sea Pines Resort, is truly like no other stop on the PGA Tour. The fact that it falls right after the demanding Master's, and is in our idyllic Sea Pines location makes it a fun, relaxed atmosphere for both fans and players alike. It's now a 50-plus year Sea Pines golf tradition. You can see your favorite players up close, enjoy the Lowcountry-inspired food, grab a beer and walk along the winding pathways in the sunshine. It's also a people-watching extravaganza as you'll see most attendees go the extra mile to "get their plaid on." As the tournament attracts tens of thousands of onlookers, visitors should not expect to park within Sea Pines. Here's what you need to know about parking.

You don't have to be a pro to play the world-class golf courses in Sea Pines but they will make you feel like one. You can rate yourself against the pros when you play Harbour Town Golf Links. Another Sea Pines golf course, Atlantic Dunes, is a recent redesign of the historic Ocean Course, which was the first course built on Hilton Head Island. Five-time winner of RBC Heritage, Davis Love III lead the redesign and it was named the National Golf Course Owners Association's "National Course of The Year." Both visually and strategically stunning, the holes are accented by coquina shells, seaside grass, rolling dunes, and a bounty of native pines and oaks lining the fairways.

4. Seeking fun and the sun in South Beach.

The southernmost tip of Hilton Head provides a seaside escape like no other on the island. One of the most unique places within Sea Pines is South Beach, a Cape-Cod-inspired beachside community. It's the perfect blend of a quiet island setting mixed with the bustling South Beach Marina Village Area. All the attractions and amenities are a short flip-flop walk away. The famous Salty Dog restaurants are dotted along the water and often feature live music. The beach at South Beach is where the open ocean becomes the Calibogue Sound. Here you can see the sun setting over the water with Daufuskie Island in the distance. Dolphin sightings along this stretch of beach are very common and late afternoon is the best time to catch them. Schedule a dolphin seeing tour to see them up close.

5. Getting back to nature at the Forest Preserve

For almost 50 years the Sea Pines Forest Preserve has been a protected area for wildlife habitat and outdoor exploration. Over the years, the preserve has expanded to include bridle paths, wetland boardwalks, bridges and fishing docks. Now there are many ways to discover the natural wonders of Hilton Head Island. You can choose from guided boat tours, horseback rides, fishing expeditions, or wagon tours, or simply stroll the sandy trails at your own pace.

5 Things to do at the Sea Pines Forest Preserve

  • Discover the 4,000 year-old Sea Pines Shell Ring, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Search through acres of native flora blooming in Warner W. Plahs Wildflower Field, which is located near one of the preserve's beautiful lakes. A must-see in the spring.
  • Observe wildlife in expansive marshes from the boardwalk at Old Lawton Rice Field.
  • Explore a secluded forest on the boardwalk through the Vanishing Swamp.
  • Enjoy a picnic along the banks of Fish Island.

Sea Pines real estate experts

There are almost as many reasons to call Sea Pines "home" as there are grains of sand on our beaches. No other location has this unique blend of all the upscale amenities and activities balanced with a serene and natural coastal habitat. And no other real estate firm understands Sea Pines like The Ocean Broker. We are a Hilton Head Island original, specializing in Sea Pines real estate for the last 45 years. We achieved most of Hilton Head Island's record first sales within Sea Pines from the first building lot for $100,000 in 1977 to the highest sales price ever at $9,200,000 for a Sea Pines oceanfront property in 2007. If you have questions about Sea Pines real estate, contact us.

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Posted in Sea Pines
Dec. 14, 2019

5 Things Hilton Head Oceanfront Condo Buyers Might Not Know

5 Things Hilton Head Oceanfront Condo Buyers Might Not Know
An oceanfront view from Villamare, a complex within Palmetto Dunes. 

When considering Hilton Head oceanfront condos for sale, here are a few points that most first time buyers don’t know about:

1. One-Bedroom Condos Usually Get A Great Return on Investment

Within the Hilton Head oceanfront condo buildings from Sea Pines to Palmetto Dunes, there are a small number of one-bedroom units available. There is also a steady demand from couples with no children looking for an oceanfront view for the week. That combination of supply and demand usually means a strong rental performance. One-bedroom condos have a lower combination of fees, taxes and insurance, which translate into a higher percentage of annual net income. Here are the one-bedroom oceanfront condos that are for sale. A few complexes with one-bedroom condos that perform well on the rental market are:

2. Glass sliders: Kind Of a Big Deal

When inspecting an oceanfront condo, most buyers rightly worry about the condition of the HVAC. If it goes out, it's a big-ticket item to replace. Most buyers don't think about the cost of replacing glass sliders. They are more expensive than most people realize because the Town of Hilton Head requires new glass sliders to have impact-resistant glass. As a result, the cost is usually twice the amount of normal glass sliders. Our standard sales contract on Hilton Head protects sellers in most circumstances from replacing glass sliders. However, take a close look at them before making an offer on a condo. Is the glass fogged? Is the frame falling apart? Does it slide back and forth easily? Does the locking mechanism work? There are many ways to keep older sliders serviceable. However, if you know you are going to replace them, keep the cost in mind when negotiating with the seller on the condo.

3. Where Is The Ocean?

Not all Hilton Head oceanfront condos for sale have views of the ocean. There are many that have views obstructed by trees, complex amenities or the side of a building. When viewing these condos online, it may be tough to see how good the view actually is. That's why it's important to walk through a condo before making an offer. Buyers that purchase properties sight unseen, even when exercising thorough due diligence, usually have regrets.

hilton head development with common pool area
An example of an obstructed ocean view.

4. Be Wary Of Rental Histories from VRBO

VRBO is a site where owners have historically paid a nominal service charge to advertise and book their rental properties instead of hiring a rental management company. When VRBO was purchased by Expedia a few years ago, a number of changes were made that affected the rental performance for many properties. These changes included higher service fees, challenging performance metrics that pushed many properties down in the rankings and more restricted communication between owners and renters. As a result, if you see a rental history from a few years ago through VRBO, a new owner may not be able to achieve the same performance.

5. Volume: It Might Get Loud

There are a few Hilton Head oceanfront condos where you will get a recurring concert when you walk out on your balcony. That's because there is a live outdoor music venue nearby. That might be a plus for you, and it certainly is for many renters that want to be in the center of the action during the prime rental season, but there are other buyers that want more peace and quiet. Complexes like Hampton Place, Windsor Court, Windsor Place and Barrington are usually quieter even during the busy season. As your agent will probably tell you, it's important to consider the community first and then narrow in on a complex.

There are many factors to consider when shopping for Hilton Head oceanfront condos for sale. Since we specialize in oceanfront properties, we can take out the guesswork and minimize surprises. Contact us if you have any questions about Hilton Head oceanfront condos for sale.

Search for Hilton Head oceanfront villas and condos for sale.

Posted in First-Time Buyers
Nov. 30, 2019

Sea Pines Beach Access Guide

hilton head beach access
Finding the easiest way to the beach in Sea pines can get confusing if you are not well acquainted with the area.

Sea Pines Beach Access: What GPS Won't Tell You

With over 5,200 acres of winding roads, trails, lagoons and golf courses, finding the easiest way to get to the beach in Sea Pines can get confusing. On top of that, there have been a number of changes recently to parking at the beach club and the shuttle/trolley system. To help simplify things, here is how Sea Pines beach access works:

Walking and Biking

Between Sea Pines Drive and the beach, there is usually a numbered beach access point every 450 ft. Within Sea Pines, there are 48 of these paths and they can be accessed by foot or by bike. If you are staying in a house that is 3 rows from the beach, getting to the nearest pathway is very easy. If you are much farther away, you'll have to use the trail system to get there. Click here for the trail system map. (While the map is titled "Sea Pines Bike Trail Map", bikers and walkers use the same trails).

sea pines beach acess path
As you get closer to the beach, you'll see one of these numbered beach access points.

Transit

Parking near the beach in Sea Pines is a gamble during the year's busiest months since there are a limited number of parking spaces available. To help offset parking congestion, beachgoers are encouraged to use the Sea Pines Beach Shuttle and the Sea Pines Trolley.

Sea Pines Beach Shuttle

The Beach Shuttle runs from late March to early September from 9am to 5pm. Sea Pines property owners, weekly rental pass holders and long term renters can use it. Daily pass holders cannot access the shuttle. Here are the rules and disclaimers. Scroll down to page 2 for the route maps.

Sea Pines Trolley

There are three main routes for the Sea Pines Trolley. This is where they run with designated stops along the way:

  • Red Route: From near the Greenwood Gate to Harbour Town
  • Blue Route: From Harbour Town to the Sea Pines Beach Club
  • Green Route: From Harbour Town to South Beach Village

Like the shuttle, the trolley mostly runs from late March to early September. Depending on the route and time of year, it runs as early as 9am to 10pm and sometimes later. Here are the rules and disclaimers. Scroll down to page 2 for the route maps and time tables.

Beach Parking

If you don't want to walk, bike, trolley or shuttle, here's what you need to know about beach parking:

Sea Pines Beach Club

Each year, Sea Pines tends to make changes to how it manages parking at the beach club. Here's a summary of its 2019 plan:

The Sea Pines Beach Club parking plan is actively managed from late March to early September from 8am to 4pm. During that time, there is a Sea Pines Resort staff manager on-site to oversee parking.

The Sea Pines Beach Club Covenants allow the following groups the "right of access" to the first 50 available parking spaces: Sea Pines property owners, overnight guests in rental and resort accommodations within Sea Pines, owners of Sea Pines boat slips, members of the Harbour Town Yacht Club and guests of the Sea Pines Resort. Sea Pines has control over who uses the remaining 108 spaces. If beach club parking is full, Sea Pines may open up remaining spaces at the Plantation Golf Club. Visitors with daily/weekly gate passes that are not staying at a Sea Pines property cannot park at the beach club.

Sea Pines Tower Beach Club

This beach club in South Beach is reserved for Sea Pines property owners. There is a guard on-site that requires owners to present their property owner id card to gain access.

Enjoy your time in Sea Pines, have a happy day at the beach and contact us with any comments or questions.

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Posted in Sea Pines
Nov. 30, 2019

Regime, POA and Transfer Fees: A Beginner's Guide

hilton head condos with regime, poa, and transfer fees
In the center: Barrington Arms and Barrington Court, two complexes within Leamington.

After a few months of searching online for the perfect villa on Hilton Head, you’ve found the one you love. It’s got a great view of the ocean, the right amount of bedrooms for your family and it’s already renovated. After imaging where you’ll put your furniture, you ask your agent what the “condo fee” is. Your agent starts throwing strange words around you weren’t expecting like “regime” and “POA.” There are also transfer fees and assessments that you didn’t even know could be part of the equation. Thankfully, your agent has been through this before and can break down and confirm all of the details. However, so that you are not surprised by how the different fees are structured, it’s good to know the following basics in advance.

Regime Fees

Regime fees are what are usually called “condo fees.” We call condos “villas,” so of course we’re going to have different name for everything else. Safe to say, most regime fees usually include the following:

  • Pool maintenance
  • Pest control
  • Trash pickup
  • Common area maintenance
  • Common area utilities
  • Common area landscaping

Some regime fees have these premiums included:

  • High speed wifi
  • Basic cable tv
  • Landline phone service
  • Water
hilton head development with common pool area
The Pool at Shorewood. 

Last but not least, there is insurance. Some complexes have insurance included in the regime fee and some do not. As a result, it's usually the reason why you'll see a large difference in the regime fees of two similarly priced properties. When insurance is not included, owners usually still pay for it as a separate “insurance assessment” that is billed annually or biannually. Keep in mind that the insurance billed is typically for the building’s exterior and the common areas. Some also include protection for the villa's interior up to the quality of the original construction. To thoroughly protect the interior, which includes personal property and any upgrades made to the unit, owners are encouraged to purchase a separate HO6 policy.

What’s the best way to confirm how much a regime fee is and what it includes? Ask your agent. Why can’t it be as simple as checking the listing report? As my grandmother used to say, “don’t ask.” The fees change every year and often the information provided by owners is either incorrect or incomplete. That’s why it’s best to have your agent contact the property management company that oversees the complex and have them confirm the details in writing. Make sure your agent also confirms if there are any ongoing or planned assessments for the complex.

POA Fees

The regime fee may not be the only ongoing fee you’ll pay for living in your new villa. There is also something called a “POA fee,” which is another way of describing an “HOA fee.” Whereas the regime fee is what you pay to live in a villa complex, the POA fee is the fee you pay for living in an overall community. For example, if you live in villa complex like Turtle Lane Club in Sea Pines, you’ll pay the regime fee for Turtle Lane Club and a POA fee for living in Sea Pines.

Transfer Fees

Some communities also have a “transfer fee,” which is a one-time fee paid at closing. Some transfer fees are a small percentage of the sales price, others are a flat fee. As of this writing, Palmetto Dunes, Shipyard, Indigo Run, Hilton Head Plantation and Leamington villas "inside the gates" have transfer fees. Sea Pines, Forest Beach, Folly Field, Windmill Harbour and the Leamington villas “outside of the gates” do not. The other Hilton Head communities that I’m not including here don’t have villas. Aside from community transfer fees, the Town of Hilton Head Island has it's own one-time transfer fee of 1/4 of 1% of the purchase price.

While it’s quite a few items to keep track of, most buyers will decide on a community early on and then target the complex. As a result, you’ll likely know the POA and transfer fee towards the start of your search and then just need to know the regime fee details, how insurance is billed and if there any assessments. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Search for Hilton Head villas and condos for sale.

Posted in First-Time Buyers
Oct. 15, 2019

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates