7 Tips for Buying a Golf Home
Prices might be up, and inventory limited, but you can still find a golf property that’s ideal for you.
By: Shivani Vora
The New York Times
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Golf homes have always been popular choices as both primary and vacation residences, but since the pandemic they’ve become even more in demand.
“When Covid hit, people wanted out of city life and into gated golf communities,” said Jason Becker, chief executive of Golf Life Navigators, a site that matches people with golf memberships and homes. “As a result, inventory levels have reached historic lows in many communities worldwide, and pricing continues to rise.”
According to Golf Life Navigators, demand for homes in golf communities rose 18 percent from March 2020 to September 2020.
The London-based real estate firm Spot Blue International Property saw sales of homes in golf communities or near golf courses rise 20 percent in the last two years, according to Julian Walker, a company director.
“People value the privacy and security of living in a golf community,” he said. “They also love the outdoor lifestyle and clean air, which has become a top priority in the last two years.”
Here are some tips for finding your ideal golf property.
It’s All About the Destination
Your community’s location matters, said Philip A. White Jr., the president of Sotheby’s International Realty and an avid golfer. “You can only play golf so much, and you’re going to be off the course more than you’re on, so you need to love the area where you buy and have nongolf diversions.”
Some golf-rich areas are near beaches, year-round activities or quality restaurants. And, Mr. White said, “You want to be near hospitals, grocery stores and shopping and own a home that’s easy to reach by flight or car.”
What Is It Going to Cost You?
The cost of owning a golf home could vary widely depending on the community, Mr. Walker said, and include club dues, maintenance and membership fees and taxes.
But a low monthly fee doesn’t necessarily reflect the true cost of living in a community. Don’t buy without fully understanding your financial commitment — for instance, whether you could be assessed for clubhouse renovations or to build a new playground.
Consider the Amenities
Golf communities also attract residents who don’t golf, Mr. Walker said, and instead buy a home for other amenities, like gyms, tennis and pickleball courts, spas, swimming pools, equestrian centers and hiking and biking trails.
Some communities also offer restaurants and bars, or events like cocktail hours, game and movie nights or author discussions. “Depending on the community,” Mr. Walker said, “you can have a robust social life and not go anywhere near the golf course.”
Know the Rules
Living in a community means following its rules, Mr. Becker said. For instance, you may not be allowed to rent your home out or to install a basketball hoop or add a sun deck.
Most also require residents to adhere to design guidelines. “If you’re looking to live in a home where you have aesthetic freedom, make sure its style is in line with yours,” Mr. Becker said.
Work With An Experienced Agent
“The market is competitive today in a way that we haven’t seen before, and you want an agent who can help you navigate what can be a tricky process,” Mr. White said.
A seasoned agent not only has strong connections with the golf communities in their market, they are also aware of off-market listings that the general public doesn’t know about, Mr. White said.
Where your home sits is a significant factor to consider, Mr. Walker said. If it is directly on the golf course, for example, flying balls can hit your home — and even you. Another potential downside is a lack of privacy. “You could be in your living room or kitchen and see groups of golfers walking by all day,” Mr. Walker said — or worse, be seen.
Be Prepared for Waiting Lists
Many desirable clubs in popular markets have waiting lists for membership, Mr. Becker said. So you may purchase a home in a community and have to wait two or three years until a spot becomes available.
Consider buying a home in a bundled golf community where a club membership comes with a home purchase. Mr. Becker said golfers could then put their names on the waiting list at their desired club. “Once they get the nod,” he said, “they sell their bundled property and move into the community or area where the club is.”