Editor's Note: Playing Partners is a regular feature on A Golfer's Life. Newsmax will discuss issues with, and give a forum to, industry insiders and golf experts. Today's topic — golf communities and real estate — led us to the realization that the death of this part of the real estate world has been greatly exaggerated.
Many golf course communities were left for dead during the Great Recession. But a dramatic swing in the housing market combined with overall economic growth and savvy owners have courses and clubs from coast to coast well down the comeback trail.
Experts say 2015 will be a particularly strong year for the national real estate market. Positive indicators were evident in late 2014; for example, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported sales of new homes grew by 0.7 percent in October 2014, and sales of existing homes rose 1.5 percent. The economy’s resurgence is spurring a similar uptick in the golf and the real estate markets, making it an advantageous time to invest in golf course communities.
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Low interest rates and home prices in markets across the country contributed to greater housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).
Moreover, demand for vacation homes has also escalated. According to the National Association of Realtors, sales were up 10 percent in 2012 and have continued to increase over the past few years. These secondary residences tend to be tied to hobbies, and consumers are willing to pay for resort lifestyles.
For many buyers, views and the area immediately surrounding the property have a major impact on price. According to Realtor.com, greenbelts and water views fetch up to 20 percent more than second-rate views or no views at all.
Such is the case at Magnolia Green
, central Virginia’s premier multi-generational, active-lifestyle residential community. It features a golf club along with an array of parks and hiking trails that create an all-inclusive life of luxury complemented by picturesque surroundings.
“Magnolia Green is one of Richmond’s top-selling neighborhoods, and 2015 projects to be our strongest year yet,” says Tom Page, Vice President of iStar Residential. “Along with the outstanding amenities we provide, the undulating terrain and scenic views further distance Magnolia Green as the favored place to live and play.”
Magnolia Green Golf Club has undergone a $3 million renovation and will expand from nine to 18 holes this upcoming May, adding to the community’s appeal.
Similarly, Traditions Club and Community
, a private golf and residential community in “Aggieland” and home to the Texas A&M men’s and women’s golf teams, has enjoyed substantial sales success. Zillow recently ranked the area as one of the top college towns in the U.S. to buy real estate.
Overlooking stately hardwoods, gently rolling terrain and the lush green fairways of the golf course, it is an enclave of custom estates, “Game Day Cottages,” cozy casitas, villas, garden homes and luxurious condominiums. The tournament-caliber, Jack Nicklaus / Jack Nicklaus II-designed golf course hosts many high-profile junior, collegiate and amateur events, making Traditions Club and Community even more attractive to buyers.
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On the West Coast, Saddle Creek
, a Castle & Cooke golf community in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is nestled among shimmering lakes and native trees. Classic luxury homes are set amidst the landscape of an immaculate 18-hole course ranked among the best in California by Golfweek. A variety of price points make Saddle Creek appealing to myriad buyer segments.
Sales in the luxury market are growing as well.
Located 30 minutes northwest of San Antonio, Cordillera Ranch
is an 8,700-acre master-planned community offering residents on-site recreational activities and boasts quarter-acre villas, one- to 10-plus acre estates, including valley-view, golf course, Guadalupe River frontage and hilltop home sites.
“With the economy thriving and the San Antonio area continuing to prosper, we expect the upward trend in real estate sales to continue in 2015,” says Charlie Hill, Vice President of Development at Cordillera Ranch.
Over the past year, Cordillera Ranch homes sold at an average of $886,000 and total lot sales increased by 32 percent. The estimated market value in 2015 is $60 million, easily the highest total of any upscale community in the San Antonio area.
While the economy is improving in the U.S., the stability of Canada’s real estate market is attracting positive attention from buyers as well. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, exports, job growth and incomes are expected to improve in 2015 with mortgage interest rates edging only slightly higher. These factors should benefit sales activity in housing markets.
One example, Cobble Beach
in Ontario, integrates picturesque waterfront homes into pedestrian-friendly, environmentally-sensitive settlements anchored by the spectacular Doug Carrick-designed, links-style golf course.
“With the current U.S Dollar to Canadian Dollar exchange rate (1 to 1.25 as of this writing), Americans considering a Canadian retirement home can purchase about $500,000 of house for $400,000,” says Cobble Beach President Rob McLeese. “Baby Boomers seek four season climates, outdoor experiences, culture and continuing education. Cobble Beach is the perfect year-round basecamp for these pursuits.”
It’s a vibrant, four-season community for active individuals and families seeking a vacation home or full-time residence. The homes are designed to maximize water and golf course vistas, which are gaining popularity.
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It goes without saying the U.S.’s continued economic resurgence is critical to the fortunes of golf course communities. As demand grows for resort-style housing options, consumers will continue to gravitate toward residential communities catering to active lifestyles. If the past few years are any indication, those showcasing golf will continue their renaissance.
To contribute story ideas, comments or questions to A Golfer's Life, contact editor Ron Varrial.
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