April 2021

It is always hard to predict the direction of the U.S. housing market, but it seems like a good bet that the current shortages of homes for sale across the country, and especially in the Southeast, will not change soon. We do a deep dive in this issue. Also, fellow golf blogger Brad Chambers and I will publish a new book for older golfers in the next few weeks. In this issue, we offer an excerpt from “Playing Through Your Golden Years.”

Crail Balcomie Links, Crail, Scotland Crail Balcomie Links, Crail, Scotland

With Home Prices Up Everywhere, Is Waiting a Fool’s Errand?

Recently, the respected Case-Schiller Report had great news for urban and suburban dwellers looking to fetch a comfortable price for their primary homes.  For many with a notion of a warm-weather retirement, that should be all they need to push them toward the Sunbelt. But there is another side to the equation.

Case-Schiller reported that home prices in the metro markets it researches had risen in January 11.2% year over year. That figure also represented a 10.4% gain over the previous month. The Phoenix metro area, favored by many retirees, led all metro districts with an annual increase in prices of 15.8%. San Diego, another retiree hotspot, saw prices rise 14.2%, the third highest rate of increase in the nation.  (Seattle was #2.)

For those of us who live in metros north of the Mason-Dixon Line and are contemplating a move South, the Case-Schiller Report is equally good news.  The following cities reported strong year over year price increases:  Boston, 12.7%; Chicago, 8.9%; Cleveland, 11.7%; Detroit, 11%; Minneapolis, 10.7%; New York, 11.3%; and Washington, D.C., 10.7%.

That is certainly good news for many of us, but the flip side of the coin is that prices are rising just as fast, and in a few cases even faster, in the most favored areas of the South.  Slim inventories and pent-up demand are behind the rapid price increases.  I took a look at the end of March at listings in some of the highest-demand golf communities in the Pawleys Island area, south of Myrtle Beach; it confirmed a lot of anecdotal reporting I had heard.  In Wachesaw Plantation in Murrells Inlet, for example, a community that used to be a great place for real estate bargains because of its location west of Highway 17 (just two miles), I saw only two homes listed for sale, one at $419,000 and the other at $1.9 million. (Note: Other homes were listed, but they all had either “contingent” or “pending” labels on them.)  I could find just one lot available, priced just under $85,000.

A little south of Wachesaw, at The Reserve at Litchfield Beach, three homes were on the market priced between $569,000 and $919,800.  The Reserve features a Greg Norman golf course owned by The McConnell Group; members have access to McConnell’s baker’s dozen of other courses in the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee.  At Pawleys Plantation, where prices are historically more moderate than at the more private communities above, just eight single-family homes were on the market, one a “patio” home (on a ¼ acre lot) listed at $356,000 which just a year ago would have likely been priced below $300,000. The other seven were listed from $450,000 to $1.2 million, considerably higher than their values just before the pandemic began. I noted also just five lots available for sale, ranging from $62,000 up to the mid $400s.

At DeBordieu Colony in Georgetown, just south of Pawleys Island, only five homes were listed starting at $770,000 and rising into the millions. When I last looked in late 2019 at prices in the gated DeBordieu, which has its own beach as well as a Pete Dye designed golf course, I saw a few listings in the $400s.

The Pawleys Island area is not unique. At the sprawling Reynolds Lake Oconee in northern Georgia, just 11 single-family homes are listed for sale beginning in the low $600s, a couple of hundred thousand dollars higher than the lowest priced home 15 months ago.  (A couple of homes with beautiful lake views are pending in the mid $2 million range.)  Six cottage-style homes are available from $349,000; and if building your dream home is your thing, there are 80 homesites for sale at Reynolds from $13,900 to $3.2 million (for a lot on a peninsula jutting out into the lake).

For those who think the price increases in the South are an obstacle to moving, take a look at the property taxes on your current house and compare it to a home in your price range in a southern golf community. A home listed for sale in Pawleys Plantation for $500,000 is assessed property taxes of less than $6,000 per year. Compare that to a $500,000 home in my hometown of Avon, CT, just outside Hartford, which is assessed at nearly $12,000.  

In some fine golf communities in the South, the contrast in property taxes is even more extreme.  It isn’t easy to find homes for sale above $400,000 in Savannah Lakes Village in rural South Carolina; a recent search turned up just three listings above $400,000. One of them, at $479,000, carries a property tax assessment of just $1,800 annually.  Combine that with the $120 per month in homeowner dues at Savannah Lakes (which includes access to the two excellent golf courses), and the run-up in southern real estate does not seem as much of an obstacle to moving.

 

 

Senior Golf Travel: Digging (Up) The Old Sod

Brad Chambers, publisher of the blog site ShootingYourAge.com, and I have co-authored a new book that will be out in electronic form this month (just $2.99 at Amazon.com). The book is called Playing Through Your Golden Years: A Senior Golfer’s Guide. One chapter of the 10 in the book deals with golf travel, and as I have been dreaming of the day I can return to Scotland and my favorite place on earth, the North Sea coastal town of Crail and the Crail Golfing Society, I include an excerpt below.  Please contact me with any questions about the Society or my experiences in the true home of golf.

Improvise Freely

From personal experience, I can testify that you will benefit if you “customize” your golf trip to suit your and your partners’ tastes. Look for a unique approach to your trip, or at least part of it. I did that on my last trip to Scotland three years ago when I spent my first four days in Edinburgh. I checked into a hotel about a five-minute walk from the city’s main train station, Waverley. I had planned to play my first round at the famed North Berwick, about a 25-minute train ride from Edinburgh, and I did not want to rent a car and drive on the “wrong” side of city streets. On the morning of my round, I slung my clubs on my shoulder just outside the hotel and walked to the train station. (No one even glanced at me as I walked the city streets with a golf bag; after all, it’s Scotland.)

When the train arrived at North Berwick station, I walked 10 minutes, mostly downhill, to the golf course and had a magical round – even with the wind blowing at about 40 mph. The next day I repeated the process, although this time I took the train to Dunbar, about a 20-minute ride, and arranged for a taxi to take me to Dunbar Golf Club just five minutes away. I can’t begin to tell you how “indigenous” I felt taking a train to play golf in Scotland. It was definitely a highlight of my 60 years of golf.

How to Become a Member of the 7th Oldest Club in the World

Five years ago, I joined the Crail Golfing Society in Scotland. The Crail Balcomie Links golf club is the 7th oldest in the world and, combined with Gil Hanse’s “slightly” more modern (1998) layout next door, Craighead Links, it puts two of the most entertaining 18-hole layouts in the world together into one membership. If true coastal links golf turns you on, know that the sea is in view from every one of the 36 holes.

As an overseas member, I pay just $400 per year in fees, for which I receive 16 rounds of golf — eight on each layout — and the ability to host guests for just 15 pounds sterling each round. How I came to join Crail is one of the points of this chapter, but life events and a pandemic have interrupted my travel plans the last three years, and I have wound up subsidizing the Society without reaping any benefits (other than helping out a club I have come to adore). Those 16 “free” rounds this past year would have cost me a mere $25 per ($400 divided by 16) if I had been able to take full advantage. Non-members have access but pay more than $100 per round.

I am lucky, as a somewhat high-risk individual, to remain upright to this point, and I feel a bit boorish writing about not being able to travel when so many have suffered worse consequences from Covid. Golf courses in the U.S. have survived during the pandemic – many have actually thrived, perceived as safe havens for recreation and fresh air – but the story has been a little different in the U.K. with much harsher restrictions by the government that have affected golf course incomes and employment of staff and caddies. I can’t wait for things to return to normal there, for their sakes; the pandemic will be over at some point, and the all-clear will be given for people to start traveling again. 

Better days ahead. 

Larry Gavrich
Founder & Editor
Home On The Course, LLC

 

The Real Skinny on Thinning 
Inventories in Southeast 
Golf Communities

 

I keep hearing reports from real estate professionals and residents that the number of homes for sale in many top Southeast Region golf communities are at historic lows. (see feature story) Therefore, over the next few months, we will take a look here at the current inventory situation in communities near the coast, beside inland lakes and in the mountains of the region. First up are coastal communities and the numbers of properties for sale as of the end of March. Anecdotally, I can say that the low prices represent generally double-digit-percentage increases over prices at the start of the pandemic. That, as we know, is what happens when demand increases and supplies shrink.

 

Landfall, Wilmington, NC

45 holes of Nicklaus and Dye golf

Located 10 minutes from beach and downtown

Homes currently listed for sale: 27

Home sites listed: 11

Lowest price for home:  $649,000

Highest price for home: $5.5 million

 

Brunswick Forest, Leland, NC

18 holes by Tim Cate

10 minutes to downtown Wilmington

Homes listed for sale:  30

Home sites listed:  31

Lowest price for home:  $295,000

Highest price for home: $1.25 million

 

Wachesaw Plantation, Murrells Inlet, SC

18 holes of Fazio golf

Less than 10 minutes to beach, shopping

Homes currently listed for sale: 2

Home sites listed: 1

Lowest price for home:  $419,000

Highest price for home: $1.495 million

 

DeBordieu Colony, Georgetown, SC

18 holes by Pete Dye

Atlantic Ocean beach inside the gates

Homes listed for sale:  13

Home sites listed:  39

Lowest price for home:  $725,000

Highest price for home:  $2.95 million

 

The Landings, Savannah, GA

6 golf courses; 20 minutes from Savannah

Homes listed for sale:  59*

Home sites listed for sale:  25

Lowest price for home:  $325,000

Highest price for home:  $2.29 million

* includes some Skidaway Island

  properties just outside the gates

 

Long Point, Amelia Island, FL

Private Tom Fazio layout open to resort guests

2 minutes to beach, 40 minutes Jacksonville

Homes listed for sale:  4

Home sites listed:  0

Lowest price for home:  $1.335 million

Highest price for home:  $3.69 million

 

Pointe West, Vero Beach, FL

18 holes by John Sanford

Less than 20 minutes to beach

Homes listed for sale:  7

Home sites listed: 8

Lowest price for home:  $298,000

Highest price for home: $835,000

 

Now on Sale

Glorious Back Nine

Buy It Now at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com

  • The only book about golf communities in the last 10 years.
  • 156-page step-by-step guide to finding your dream golf home.
  • Info on nearly 100 golf communities the author has visited.
  • Paperback version costs less than a sleeve of Pro VIs.

 


If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.