April 2022

It is a feature and a bug of capitalism that one hand giveth and the other taketh away.  Over the last few years, the real estate market reacted to the Covid pandemic by increasing the equity in American homes by billions and billions of dollars. But, at the same time, it has made it virtually unaffordable — or at least a “wash” — to move from one “overpriced” house to another. So unless you move from a place with comparably higher priced homes to one with lower priced homes — and comparably lower property taxes — so what?  We contemplate that quandary this month.

Looking for a $1 million home in a luxury golf community?

Fuhgettaboutit…for now

The real estate pricing formula is the most basic in all of economics:  High Demand + Low Supply = Rising Prices.  The pandemic has been the best thing to happen to home sellers in decades, and about the worst for new home buyers — and vacation home buyers as well. The migration from the cities increased dramatically the demand for homes in suburbs and rural areas, so much so that it exhausted supplies of all but the most un-sellable homes. Millions of workers were told by their employers to work from home — many permanently — and that just added to the luster of owning a home far from the maddening — and potentially viral — crowds in the cities.  Add to that the U.S. Government forgiveness of the almost $800 billion in PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans to four million businesses to assure continued employment.  For anyone who thinks some of that money didn’t find its way into the pockets and bank accounts of individuals — one study estimates as much as $76 billion was skimmed fraudulently — there is a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. All that cash has undoubtedly helped fuel competitive bidding for the best available houses.

One Sector Giveth, the Other…

The run-up in prices has made it financially feasible for Yankee homeowners to sell their homes up north and head for popular Southern towns where comparable homes are priced lower and property taxes are much lower (in many cases, 50% less or more than what they have been used to paying). 

“A typical homeowner accumulated $50,200 in housing wealth, looking at the median price from 2020 to 2021,” according to a CNN Report. Maybe some of those lucky souls shouldn’t be complaining too loudly about gas prices since 50 grand will buy about 1,000 gallons of gas. And that average price increase is on top of any appreciation over the years of home ownership.  One sector of the economy giveth more than the other taketh away.

The dramatic price rises span the entire range of home types in the South, but the increases have become most acute in the luxury segment of the market.

“Luxury listings — the top 5% of the market — are the tightest relative to demand since at least 2012, when brokerage Redfin Corp. started tracking the data,” according to a Bloomberg report earlier this year. “As of the fourth quarter it would take 1.9 months to sell all of the U.S. luxury single-homes for sale, compared with 3.3 months at the end of 2019.”  Six months is considered a “balanced” market.  Bloomberg Report

Tough to Spend a Million Bucks

In recent months, two clients have asked me to help find them $1 million homes — one wanted the east coast of Florida, the other was open to any golf community home with a water view.  After months of searching, the first client gave up on the east coast of Florida — no houses available in his price range — and purchased a nice home at The Landings in Savannah, GA, for $700,000.  I have searched all the luxury communities with golf and a lake for the other client and I have been surprised that such listings in the $1 million to $1.2 million range are almost non-existent.  The client and his wife are now looking at purchasing a homesite and building a home on it in a couple of years.

As of the end of March, here is a rundown of high-end homes for sale in luxury golf communities I follow in the Carolinas and Georgia.  Where the community has its own on-site agency, I have used its listings.  For those without an on-site agency, I have used a local Realtor who publishes comprehensive listings (from the MLS, or multiple listing service).  Since almost all “luxury” homes are substantially sized, I set 2,500 square feet as the minimum for the homes I surveyed; and I have not included any homes that are “under contract” or have a contingent offer.

Reynolds Lake Oconee, Greensboro, GA

Lowest priced home for sale at $925,000; 2,680 square foot townhome with lake access, 4 BR, 3 BA, open floor plan with hardwood floors.  Able to be rented.  Seller making golf membership available to buyer. (Reynolds has six fine golf courses.)

The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyard, Sunset, SC

Only home available up to $1.5 million is offered at $1.045 million; 3,250 square foot cottage home on 3.75 acres, 5 BR, 3 BA, with three-car garage.  Short walk to clubhouse on wonderful Tom Fazio course, with most picturesque par 3 I have ever played. Initiation fee for Cliffs full-golf membership is $50,000 and provides full access to all seven of its courses in the Carolinas.

The Cliffs at Keowee Springs, Six Mile, SC

Lowest-priced home available at $2.895 million, 4,400 square feet with 4 BA and 4 BA on just under one acre.  Home is located on the lake and is close to the community’s beach club and future clubhouse site. The Tom Fazio layout features three loops of six holes each which makes it easy to play six or 12 holes if time is tight, or a full 18. (See above for membership details.) Note:  The lowest priced home on the market at neighboring Cliffs at Keowee Falls is listed at $1.7 million.  The 18-hole course was designed by Jack Nicklaus.

The Reserve at Lake Keowee, Sunset, SC

Only one listing, a Craftsman cottage home at 2,750 square feet, is priced under $1 million, at $989,000 with 5 BR and 5 ½ BA and two master suites on the first level.  The only other home available for sale at the end of March was listed at $2.1 million.  The Reserve’s Jack Nicklaus course is rated one of the best in the state and has hosted professional level golf tournaments.

Debordieu Colony, Georgetown, SC

Just three houses currently for sale, with the lowest priced home listed at $1.65 million(currently under construction) with 5 BR, 4 ½ BA at 4,500 square feet, including a heated garage.  The property is almost one acre large with spacious backyard.  Debordieu is a rare east coast community that borders the Atlantic Ocean and maintains its own ocean beach club.  The golf course is by Pete Dye.

Larry Gavrich, Founder & Editor, Home On The Course, LLC


Golf Community Bargains…relatively speaking

Prices have risen significantly in virtually every segment of the residential real estate market over the last few years.  And, in most areas, the hangover effects are still producing inventory shortages and mad scrambles for vacation and retirement homes among the Baby Boomer population. But bargain hunters should still be pleased with old-reliable Myrtle Beach, SC, where home prices have also risen in the last few years but not quite as dramatically as other popular areas that do not offer anywhere near the number of quality golf courses.

The Myrtle Beach, SC, area runs along both sides of US Highway 17 from the North Carolina border to where the Waccamaw River spills into the Winyah Bay at the charming city of Georgetown, about a total 75-mile stretch. In Murrells Inlet, noted for its Restaurant Row of bustling seafood restaurants, only five homes are currently on the market, the lowest priced one listed at $579,000.  At a generous 3,570 square feet and on a half-acre, the home features four bedrooms, two baths and a sweeping view of a private Tom Fazio classically designed golf course.  Wachesaw Plantation is ultra-convenient to shopping, the local hospital and a beautiful Atlantic Ocean public beach just 10 minutes away. (Fact:  All beaches in South Carolina are open to the public.)

Farther west in Murrell Inlet, Prince Creek borders the public TPC of Myrtle Beach layout, another Tom Fazio design and the former host course for a professional Senior PGA Tour event.  Prince Creek always seems to have plenty of newer homes for sale at attractive prices, and the surrounding area has blossomed with retail stores and restaurants to serve the burgeoning local population.  At last look, there were 34 homes for sale in Prince Creek’s numerous neighborhoods at an average price of $531,000.  The lowest priced home I could find was listed at $385,000, although there were four homes priced lower – all waiting for the buyers’ financing to come through.

Readers of this newsletter know that my own vacation home is in Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island which is far enough south of the honky tonk of Myrtle Beach proper that it can almost seem rural – well, as “rural” as a town with five supermarkets can be.  Of the five homes currently for sale in our community, just one is available under $750,000. It is currently under construction on 1/3 acre with three bedrooms, two baths and 1,900 square feet.  Pawleys Plantation is gated, and this home is located via a sharp left hand turn after passing through the gate. (Ooops. In the three days after I first wrote this paragraph, the $356,000 home sold. Sorry.)

Hagley Estates surrounds and is surrounded by the Founders Club, one of the southernmost courses on the Grand Strand. (Long-time Myrtle Beach golfers may remember it as Sea Gull Golf Club, one of the original 20 on the Grand Strand.) Only two homes are available in Hagley Estates, one priced over $1 million but the other more in keeping with the customary range in the community.  It is listed at $540,000 and was finished last year in a cottage-style design comprising four bedrooms and 3 ½ baths on a modestly sized lot.  Golf within 10 minutes is superb, and includes Pawleys Plantation, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Golf Club and Heritage Plantation – all available to the public (or you can join for deep discounts and other privileges). 

Cliffs at Keowee Vineyard, 17th hole Sunset, SC
Cliffs at Keowee Vineyard, 17th hole Sunset, SC

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