A Dream Within Reach
Homes in golf course communities are changing to suit today’s buyers.By Jennifer Martin
It has never been a better time to buy a dream home on the links. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of real estate-related golf course facilities grew by more than 500 nationwide, from 2,386 to 2,943, according to the National Golf Foundation. The selection of homes is abundant, and in many areas, prices have dropped to more realistic levels for today’s economy.
“I think a lot of people understand that prices here are not going to fall any further,” said Andy Odenbach, vice president of Lake Nona Golf and Country Club. “Many people have kept an eye on our properties for 18 to 20 months and are choosing to buy now.”
The organization closed $22 million in real estate in the first six months of 2010, Odenbach said, adding that some home prices are down by about 20 percent from four years ago. Home prices at Orlando-based Lake Nona start between $1 million and $2 million.
“It used to be that all we really cared about was a golf course and a pool to relax beside,” he said. “Now, we’re starting to look for a more rounded set of experiences.”
Many homeowners are selling off their extra residences and retreating to their golf course home year-round, he said. As a result, golf course communities are offering fitness centers, fine dining, shops, children’s recreation and other activities.
The most successful communities also offer a mix of courses or holes for players of all skill levels. “We’re going to build a golf course where everyone can play, no matter what their ability is,” said Paul Stringer, executive vice president of Nicklaus Companies, designers of Nicklaus golf courses worldwide. “It’s probably one of our best attributes.”
Developments with golf courses by Nicklaus Design sell an average $315 million worth of real estate over a 12-year period, the company reported. At Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno, Nev., the site of a Nicklaus Signature Course, half-acre lots start at $365,000 and homes sell for $999,000 and higher.
In spite of the buyer’s market, analysts advise going into a purchase with caution. It’s best to be wary of new or incomplete golf course developments unless they are well capitalized and have a solid management team in place.
“The ones struggling are the ones that weren’t completed or got stopped in the middle of construction by the economic downturn,” said Steve Forrest, of Arthur Hills Steve Forrest and Associates, a firm known internationally for designs of high-end golf courses. “The ones that have survived are well known and have a good, established community.”
Another good sign for any golf course development is nearby infrastructure, such as major airports. Odenbach notes that Lake Nona lies not only near the entertainment metropolis of Orlando but also near a medical complex with four hospitals. “It’s quiet here, but just go outside the gates and there’s a strong economic engine,” he said.