Buyers at high-end waterfront properties are sparing no expense for storm-resistant features.
Courtesy Tides IV Tides IV, EWP's luxury condominium development in Charleston, S.C.

Following a record-setting 2017 hurricane season, high-end builders are seeing a surge in demand for resilient multifamily and single-family housing, with buyers sparing no expense on storm-resistant features. Waterfront developers such as East West Partners (EWP) are capitalizing on this demand by offering advanced flood- and wind-proof features, as well as raised living spaces.

At Tides IV, a luxury condominium development in Charleston, S.C., EWP recorded an almost 50 percent increase in fall sales, which it partially attributes to features like “missile-resistant” windows, designed to withstand winds up to 140 mph. We interviewed Graham Worsham, a sales executive at Tides IV, on the significance of this consumer trend.

Q: What do these buyers have in common? Do they tend to be long-time residents who have weathered a few storms?

Worsham: A majority of our homeowners are from the Charleston area. Over the past few years, homeowners have grown weary of flooding, power outages, and after-storm cleanup and wonder if there’s a better alternative.

Q: In addition to “missile-resistant” windows, what other resilient features does EWP offer at its Charleston condominium developments?

Worsham: No building or development is built exactly the same, but they are all built to last. Our properties include features like sea walls, elevated post-tension concrete design, missile-impact glass, subterranean concrete pilings, and extensive water protection testing. We’ve found that these features contribute to a stronger peace of mind with the homeowner...Our goal with each community is to deliver the best quality product to our homeowners. Homeowners’ safety from different kinds of weather that we see in our area is always considered from the very early stages in the design process.

Q: Does EWP expect the demand for storm-resistant condos to continue for a while, or subside in the hurricane off-season?

Worsham: People want to live in Charleston and though it might not happen every year, we will see another weather event, just like many other areas along the US coast. Neither of those [factors] are going to change. Neither will the fact that real estate is likely the largest single-investment that people make and they want to know it is protected.

It seems that during hurricane season, buyers might ask about certain protective features earlier in the process, but today’s buyers are smart and they make sure they perform adequate due diligence before making a purchase decision. Such features are important to buyers whether they are buying in April or September. We are seeing buyers pay closer attention to the vulnerability of their current property and future property.