Golf community life
Many retirees dream of a home in a golf course community, where connecting a shiny driver with a perfectly dimpled ball on a lush, green fairway is just another day in paradise.
But a golf club membership isn’t a given at these communities and sometimes comes with hefty fees.
When you buy a house in a golf community, it pays to understand exactly what you’re getting. Some golf courses may be owned by the community, while others may operate as an entirely independent business.
Because the attraction of these communities is often tied to the golf club, make sure your big green neighbor is financially healthy. If its business suffers, so could your home values.
Golf club membership scenarios run the gamut, said Cathy Harbin, president of OnCourse Operations, a golf management company based in Paris, Texas.
“It can be a developer owns the club and pays your membership for you when you buy a home lot or, through a promotion, they buy your initiation fee and the first few years of your membership,” Harbin said.
“Or, it can even be an optional situation, where you are offered a discount if you want to buy a membership. Of course, it can just be you buy the home separately, and the membership doesn’t have anything to do with your purchase.”
Public or private club?
Generally, homeowners’ association fees and club costs are higher for private clubs, Harbin said. At Desert Highlands, a private golf course community in Scottsdale, Arizona, every homeowner must become a club member, said Joan Sykora, director of sales and member relations. That membership cost is a $75,000 initiation fee, and monthly HOA dues are $1,325.
At Ridgeview Ranch in Plano, Texas, where the community’s golf club is public, members get unlimited range balls and discounts on rounds of golf at certain hours — with the number of times expanding depending on monthly membership fees, $49.95 or $69.95.
On the downside, crowded play is more likely at a public club, and the courses may not be as challenging as at a private club.
Home value tied to club’s success
Still, membership fees may be the least of your problems if the golf club has financial difficulties. When the Sanctuary Golf Club in Beaufort, S.C., shuttered its doors in January 2019 and went into foreclosure, homeowners in the nearby Cat Island community had reason to fear the worst.
Home values for communities with shuttered golf clubs can fall by more than 20% in an average economy, according to Jeff Pinckney, a Beaufort-based part-time commercial realtor.
Cat Island residents were lucky because, although the golf club was closed for about a year, it eventually found a new buyer and has since partially reopened, he said. As a result, home prices weren’t as affected.
Realtor Susan Akagi said prospective buyers can get a better idea of how a community golf club is doing by talking to the club’s chief financial officer. A golf course that’s been around a long time often “gives a greater sense of stability,” she said.
Plus, most communities also include other amenities for family members who don’t play golf, which can help real estate values if something happens to the golf club.
© The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.