Sizzling Hot

Two companies have joined forces to sell and finance luxury real estate in the coveted Downtown Charleston area and beyond

by DANA W. TODD/photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

It’s no secret that the Charleston real estate market is hot, particularly for families outside of the state who are looking for a post-pandemic move to a city with a slower-paced lifestyle in a beautiful coastal setting. These are busy times for Bunker Burr, real estate agent with luxury sales firm Oyster Point Real Estate Group, who says the number of Downtown homes listed for sale are only in the mid-900s, while last year they hovered at the 4,200 mark. Oyster Point Group currently lists luxury homes that are both on and off the market and prides itself on keeping up to date with many other off-market listings.

New listings for single-family homes in Downtown Charleston dropped more than 55% so far this year compared to last year, according to the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS. Mike Squatrito, owner and loan originator with Leeward Point Mortgage, says buyers are snatching up homes because they are suddenly free to work from anywhere in this post-COVID world. “Why wouldn’t you move to Charleston if you could work anywhere in the country?” Squatrito says. “People are coming because of the great city, weather, culture and people.”

“Chivalry is not dead in this town,” Burr says. “The social life is incredible, and there are golf courses, fine restaurants and beaches nearby.”

Burr says Oyster Point Group shows homebuyers and sellers the benefits of having a local real estate agent on their side. When broker-in-charge Carl Mabry renovated the company’s current office space on King Street, he added a three-bedroom apartment upstairs where out-of-town buyers can stay and have convenient access to view the properties they are considering. The office, where General Westmoreland once got his haircut in the local barber shop, was condemned before Mabry bought and renovated the place. Today, the new office includes a stage where Oyster Point Group throws open its doors to welcome neighbors South of Broad to take part in special events, such as author readings and concerts. “Our company wants to give back to the community where we are so lucky to be working,” Burr says.

Oyster Point’s real estate agents use creative techniques to market and sell Charleston homes to buyers across the nation. From video marketing to special events and open houses, the company helps find the right buyers and maximize the amount of money sellers receive, Burr says. “People are not just buying a home. They are buying into a community, and Charleston’s community is a slower lifestyle that people are searching for,” he adds.

Oyster Point Real Estate Group partners with Leeward Point Mortgage because of the loan company’s novel financing approach. “Our lending process averages 21 days to close a loan,” says Squatrito. “The industry average closing time is 45 days and up to 60 days or more for a bank loan. As a service company, we’re focused on what fits into our customers’ lives and not what’s on a piece of paper. We want to help them buy what they can afford and not be under the stress of an unaffordable property.”

Squatrito says his lending process is 100% digital, so there is no paper shuffling or signing and shipping documents. When customers get a loan through his company, they are assigned a loan originator (himself) and a processor who takes them from start to finish. Customers don’t have to worry about working with a different employee in each step of the process as they would when working with a much larger institution. And the loan process itself is much shorter, hence the quicker time to the closing table. “Customers are often shocked at how easy the process is with our company,” he says.

“We are proud to be conveniently located Downtown in the Maritime Building,” Squatrito adds. “Charleston is a city of relationships. Being a member of this community is an important advantage for Leeward Point Mortgage and the customers we serve.”

Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and art.

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