Why buy in a golf course community if you don't play golf?
Have you ever noticed that most golf course communities seem to have a lot of residents with little or no interest in playing golf? In fact, that describes us when we purchased our first home - a townhome in Crofton, Maryland, just blocks from the fairways of Crofton Country Club.
Thinking back to that home-buying experience, I have to admit that my husband and I were seduced by the professionally furnished builder's model home, rather than the golf course or even the manicured open space in the community. Our second home was in the same neighborhood but, again, Crofton's golf course did not factor into our home-buying decision - that move was motivated by our desire to have a yard for our growing sons, without leaving the community where we had begun to establish roots.
Then I became a real estate agent, and things changed. I quickly realized that many Crofton home buyers were, in fact, motivated to buy in the community because of the golf course - golfers and non-golfers alike. Homes backing to the golf course had premium prices because they were in high demand. In fact, I recently asked in a Facebook post "Why do non-golfers buy in a golf course community?" and nearly everyone who commented said "green space." (Others said it's so pretty... it was hard to find a nice planned community without a golf course... there are a lot of other things to do.)
When we purchased our third home, near Charleston, S.C., we chose a lot overlooking the 9th fairway of the golf course at Kings Grant, and beyond that another fairway, the Ashley River, and rice paddies in the distance. Talk about green space... What a view! That green space was our motive for choosing that home and community. It was here that our boys, ages four and six, were introduced to golf by riding in the golf cart with us when Larry decided to try out those golf clubs he had received as a graduation gift a few years earlier and I dusted off the clubs my grandfather bought for me when I was nine years old.
That experience was another life-changer because our boys became avid junior golfers when we returned to Maryland, literally running home from school to get their golf clubs and go to practice at Crofton Country Club. They traveled across the country as teenagers to compete in national level junior golf tournaments against the nation's top juniors, some of them now playing on the PGA Tour, on famous golf courses that most people only see on television. And they both received golf scholarships to college.
It was almost a lucky accident that we lived in golf course communities for over forty years, but it was a very intentional decision when we recently purchased a home in Millsboro, Delaware. In fact, we are very excited about the option to purchase a deeded interest in the golf course at Plantation Lakes, for several reasons - with these three topping our list:
1. If community residents have a vested interest in the golf course, it is more likely to remain financially viable.
2. A deeded interest in the golf course will likely come with some privileges that won't be available to daily or even annual users of the golf course. And there's no up-front investment required!
3. A deeded interest will convey with the property, potentially enhancing the value (or at least the salability) of this home over another similar home in the community without this option.
To be perfectly fair, however, this third item could just as easily be a negative in future resale if the deeded interest comes with any ongoing fee that obligates a future owner to pay more for owning this home than another similar home in the community.
If you're a non-golfer living in a golf course community...
Don't take that manicured open space for granted!
If we still lived in our South Carolina home, our view of the 9th fairway and beyond would now be a view of overgrown brush because that golf course - along with the club house, swimming pool, and tennis courts - closed in 2005. Efforts by an investor to develop some of the property failed in 2008 and the lender decided in 2012 to foreclose. Home values in the community plummeted and many went to foreclosure. Nearly every street had multiple boarded up homes when my daughter drove around the community about 2 years ago.
The golfers simply moved on to play at other golf courses in the area. The homeowners who purchased in Kings Grant for the green space, however, suffered immensely from the closing of this golf course. They lost the manicured open space, other amenities became eyesores, and many of them lost their homes and good credit.
Even if you're a non-golfer, you don't want that beautiful manicured open space in your community to become abandoned and overgrown or developed with streets and additional housing or even commercial facilities. In fact, I read about one golf course in Florida that was turned into a cemetery.
Golf course closings have outpaced golf course openings by more than 10-1 in the past 10 years, so please do whatever you can to support community leaders or the developer if they ask for your support.
The beautiful green space that initially attracted you to your home may depend on it!
Photos: Crofton Country Club. By Margaret Woda. All rights reserved