The Changing Face of Tiger Town: Location, Football Success Driving Clemson’s Growth | Special coverage from Greenville Real Estate
When Joan Herlong and Associates Sotheby’s International Realty decided to open a second office, the established Greenville agency focused on Clemson – and not because they were fans of the college football program. Sales trends convinced them they needed a presence in a college town 35 miles from their home port.
“What we are seeing is that a lot of buyers who can live anywhere come to us for the area more than for any particular property. And a lot of those buyers are really drawn to the western part of the state in general, as kind of a part of Greenville to live in, ”said Jackson Herlong, broker in charge of the company’s new Clemson office. “A lot of these people are leaving the big markets here because their offices have closed or changed. And as long as they have high-speed internet access and an international airport, they’ve been allowed to cast a wide net. “
This net is increasingly landing not only on Greenville, but also on the vast expanse of the northern state to the west, home to a popular chain of lakes and some of the most scenic and unspoiled land in the State. At the center of this region is Clemson, home to not only South Carolina’s second largest university, but also a booming real estate landscape, in part thanks to the success of the Tigers football team, with branches s ‘extending into the Lake District and beyond.
“It really takes a life of its own,” Herlong said. “We would have been kind of foolish not to explore this possibility based on where our sales growth is coming from. We grew up everywhere, but the growth in the northwest of the state has been truly astronomical.
Clemson, where Zillow reports that average home prices have risen 63% over the past decade, has contributed to that growth. The increase in university enrollment has translated into more purpose-built and privately managed student accommodation, a source of consternation for many residents who fear losing some of the city’s charm. But it’s not just students who flock to Clemson, according to Eric Newton, who has worked in real estate in the area since graduating from Clemson in 1998.
“You have a lot of full-time residents, but it also seems like a lot of buyers here in recent years have been people retiring here because they want to participate in the sports program as a spectator, or have a second home. here, ”said Newton, president, CEO and broker-in-charge at Focus Realty in Clemson. “They can spend some of their time here, but they have a primary residence in Charleston or wherever else they live. So you see a lot of transient property.
Football raises Clemson’s profile
Clemson benefits from being located between two areas boasting their own real estate booms: Lake Keowee, where available waterfront properties are increasingly scarce, and Pendleton, a thriving town-center community. historical. But there is also another factor at work: the success of a Clemson University football program that has won national championships in two of the past five years.
This success in football not only motivated enrollment and associated student accommodation, but also raised awareness of this quaint college town nestled between scenic lakes and the foothills of Blue Ridge. “They really enjoyed the success of their football team and played
in a much larger national profile for the school, for the region, for northern South Carolina, ”Herlong said.
“Clemson has caught the attention of a lot of people who otherwise would not have looked upstate,” he added. “I can’t tell you how many people in my eight years in real estate have had the Upstate brought to their attention by Clemson. Maybe some family member went to school, or their daughter is watching, or whatever. And they’re moving from New York or New Jersey or Illinois or somewhere like that. And then, obviously, it holds up well in comparison, then they decide to stay. “
Success on the football field has also led many Tigers fans who live elsewhere to invest in properties that they can use on home football weekends, or as family retreats, or even as a second home. “Lake Keowee may have the largest collection of Clemson football memorabilia in the world,” Herlong said. Sales of condos for football weekends increased. Others are buying in downtown Clemson, where the ability to walk to the stadium compensates for the renovations required by many older homes.
“Homes, especially in the downtown area, sell for a higher price,” Newton said. “There are a lot of houses built in the 60s and 70s that need to be renovated. You see a lot of it now. There are a lot of houses being gutted and remodeled because they pay a premium for the property and then spend a good chunk trying to bring them up to 2021 standards. “
The figures confirm this. Western Upstate, of which Clemson is a part, saw its closed sales increase by 33.1% in April 2021 compared to April 2020, according to the most recent report available from Western Upstate MLS. Properties in the area receive an average of 98.1% of the sale price and inventories are down 36.4% year-on-year.
“Clemson is a small town, and that’s part of its atmosphere,” Herlong said. “But as more and more people discover our region and the drawbacks of other regions, Clemson becomes more and more attractive. And I really see it as an extension of the great Greenville market. I know Clemson is its own independent entity with its own economy and its own social scene. But there are a lot of people who live in Greenville and work in college, or live by the lake. So there is a lot of cross-pollination throughout the area.
Welcome to Patrick Square
When Herlong and Associates’ Clemson branch moves into its permanent office in July, it will be part of a development that has changed the face of the city’s real estate market. Patrick Square is a planned community like anything Clemson has seen before, with a large area of residential homes adjoining a commercial area full of shops, bars, restaurants, fitness centers, medical facilities, offices, and other offerings.
Started by developer and Clemson graduate William Cheezem, and continued by his son Michael after his father passed away in 2009, Patrick Square had been in the works since before the 2008 recession, Newton said. “When you drive over there and look at it, it looks like it came out of nowhere,” he added. “But Patrick Square took a long time to take off.”
The residential portion of Patrick Square contains more than 300 homes or hospitality sites, most of which are sold, according to the development’s website. House prices range from $ 300,000 to
$ 500,000, which makes them more upscale than other residential offerings from Clemson. The nearby city center has more than 45 businesses open or ready to open.
Reception of the development within Clemson has been positive, Newton said. “People love Patrick Square,” he added. “I never really heard anything negative about it.” And Herlong expects the shopping area to really take off this fall, when Clemson will host the full capacity of its football stadium for the first time since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I can go to four different bars and have a drink with someone 100 yards from my office, and I’m pretty excited about that,” he said. “I am delighted to be a part of this community and to contribute to this culture. We haven’t been there during a football season, and certainly not even close to a normal season since last year was so strange. So we anticipate that it will come back this fall and that Patrick Square will truly become a social hub for people who come to town. “
Indeed, Clemson always revolves around the familiar rhythms of college, such as the return of students to campus and the energy of home football weekends. There is no doubt that Clemson is growing – its population has grown 25.3% since 2019, according to the US Census Bureau – and its real estate is in increasing demand. But through it all, Clemson’s identity remains intact.
“It still looks a lot like a college town,” Newton said. “Some people think the downtown area is starting to lose its character with the construction of taller buildings, but I imagine every generation has said the same thing. Things change. I don’t want it to be a big city in any way – I like it to be a small town. But I think change is inevitable. If we try to do it in a smart way and require the developers to build in a way that is community-friendly and in keeping with the school’s heritage, I think this whole change is OK. “