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Time Outside



Lush grass, indigenous plants, saw palmettos, stately live oaks draped in Spanish moss: The Lowcountry is the perfect setting to enjoy the outdoors.

The best way to enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer? Upscale outdoor living spaces, complete with all the amenities Lowcountry residents could need for optimal comfort. It’s these spaces, area real estate agents say, that become the most important when trying to see a home.

“When we live or are seeking to live in such a beautiful area as the Lowcountry, outdoor living spaces are essential,” said Chip Collins, broker and owner of the Collins Group Real Estate. “There’s just something about them.”

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Whether it’s a screened porch for a casual dinner with family, a pool to share with grandchildren, or a cozy firepit for friends to gather around, Lowcountry homebuyers are looking for outdoor entertaining spaces.

Or, as real estate agent Ken Oliver of Dunes Real Estate describes it: “The chillin’ and grillin’ in the outdoor space.” It’s an expected part of the Lowcountry lifestyle, he said. “When people are moving here from the Midwest or Northeast, they like to have outdoor space. It can be as simple as a small patio space.”


The great indoors has been moving into the great outdoors for years — especially in the Lowcountry, where warm salt air breezes through the trees for three seasons out of the year. Lowcountry homebuilders and homeowners have embraced the trend, crafting artfully designed and carefully positioned hardscapes like patios and terraces that blend seamlessly with professionally landscaped green spaces.

“It’s all about the integrating of hardscaping with landscaping,” Collins said. “The pool, for instance, while it has functionality, becomes just as much a part of the aesthetics. A lot of the pools aren’t designed to be so big, but are ornate and really serve as a water feature for outside living areas. And a surrounding deck or patio serves as a great place to entertain and gives a great ambiance as a reminder that we live in such a beautiful location.”

These spaces are big draws for homebuyers — even if they don’t think they want a pool or hot tub, one look at these “wow” factors can help seal the deal. Other popular selling features include fully furnished outdoor kitchens, complete with ranges, grills, wine coolers, sinks and granite countertops. And, of course, as a home’s price tag increases, buyers’ expectations for outdoor amenities also rise.

And it’s important not to forget the other elements of outdoor spaces that can sway potential homebuyers: decks; terraces; patios; exotic gardens; fencing and trellises; outdoor LED lighting; sound systems; materials like wood, natural stone like travertine, pavers, brick, stone tile, glass and concrete; and poolscapes and water features like fountains or infinity edges.

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Outdoor living spaces will continue to be in demand, according to the National Association of Reators’ Profile of Home Staging report. It predicts that hot items for 2018 will include outside wine bars; textured walls and tongue-and-groove siding; energy-efficient outdoor heating units incorporated into the ceilings of open-sided or screened-in porches; and outdoor flooring that matches the look and feel of the flooring indoors.

It’s in homeowners’ best interest to keep up with these trends, Collins said.

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“We’re seeing in certain segments of the market how much more a home can command because it does have something like a swimming pool,” he said. “It could become a critical point in the sale. When you extend the living space and the livability of the entire property, it can bring a big return on investment for sure.”