After several years of being in the doldrums, the real estate market in the coastal Carolinas is experiencing some much-needed activity.

“The market is better now than it’s been for several years,” says Jon Wilson, senior vice president at Cary-based Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. — one of the nation’s comprehensive engineering and land planning firms – and chair of the ULI Triangle Council. “We’re starting to see seeds of change,” says Wilson. “There is a lot of healing going on. The Carolina coastal area is traditionally a second home market. There was a lot of product in the pipeline, including some that had been stalled because of financial problems.”

Wilson expects 2011 will see a further uptick. “We’re starting to see more activity in developments that were half finished or in the process of being built, particularly in the Brunswick area between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach,” Wilson says. “There’s more second home activity going on; it’s just not anywhere near what it was. I think there will be stability in pricing and we’ll see the beginnings of more growth in all sectors — residential, retail and institutional.”

Boeing is bringing 3,800 jobs to Charleston for its new Dreamliner factory and another 150 jobs for its fabrication plant here, says Amy Barrett, Vice President at Permar, a Charleston-based real estate market research firm.

“The Dreamliner factory is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2011,” she says.?”Charleston – and South Carolina as a whole – will continue to benefit from national migration patterns — shifting population from north to south. “With sunshine, beaches and great medical care, we are a favorite market of retirees, adds Barrett.

Permar is currently involved with two large regional projects in the Charleston region – East Edisto and Parks of Berkeley. “The master plan for the 78,600 acre East Edisto on the western edge of the Charleston region includes as series of villages and towns and a mix of uses and leaves 75 percent of the region as open space,” says Jeanne Welsh, Principal, at Permar. “The master planned Parks of Berkeley includes about 5,000 acres directly east of I-26. The property is approved for 13,000 residential units and master planning is currently under way.”

W. Andrew Gowder, Jr., shareholder in the Charleston-based law firm Pratt-Thomas Walker and South Carolina District Council Chair, said South Carolina continues to see new building projects in institutional settings, such as in the district-wide building program in the Charleston County School District and in projects on a number of federal facilities in the area.

“College campuses continue to see new growth,” Gowder continues. “Companies with the resources to do so are acquiring properties and renovating or building new facilities for their own use, as corporate headquarters or support facilities. There is also a great deal of discussion and planning around infrastructure, particularly in the context of transit and roads and highways for commuters getting to and from work. The conversation has changed, though, from building more lanes to accommodate new subdivisions further and further from the metropolitan cores, to making existing connections between infill projects in existing communities and neighborhoods work better.”

Developers and owners who do not have a debt problem still appear very cautious, waiting for signs of a broader economic recovery, says Gowder. “There appears to be some stabilization in values but there are some fundamental shifts in behavior which will effect the second home ownership market long term and they are still evolving,” he continues. “Financing of this market is very challenged at this time.”