The zip code 29585 comprises Pawleys Island and Litchfield Beach in South Carolina, two resort-oriented coastal towns rich in beaches and golf communities. The year-round population within the zip code is approximately 13,500, but that number can swell significantly during the peak beach and golf seasons that include spring and fall for golfers and summer for families looking for a week or more on some of the cleanest and most expansive beaches on the east coast.
Supermarket shopping during peak seasons at beach and golf resorts can be a chore, what with the crowded aisles and long checkout lines as well as prices considerably higher than back home. Neither of those conditions should nag visitors or residents in the Pawleys Island area.
In March, the Publix chain of supermarkets will open a large facility on Highway 17, the main north/south thoroughfare through town that stretches all the way south through Charleston and Savannah and north through Wilmington, NC, to Norfolk, VA. The Publix is rising literally across the highway from an established Food Lion supermarket and less than a mile north of a less-than-year-old Loewes supermarket. A half mile north of the Publix is a Fresh Market, a chain of more "boutique" type produce, meats and other products has done quite well since opening a couple of years ago. Less than four miles farther north, in Litchfield Beach, a BI-LO supermarket took over the space formerly occupied by the iconic southern chain with the funny name, Piggly Wiggly. (BI-LO's previous store was ¼ mile from the former Piggly Wiggly.)
For residents of Pawleys Island golf communities, as well as visiting golfers and families renting the many condos in the area, the glut of supermarkets is good news. The intense competition will keep prices down, and the sheer number of places to shop will ensure short or non-existent wait times to check out. Supermarkets also require a large number of employees, albeit mostly low-wage jobs, but the continuity of employment in off seasons or through tourism dry spells should be an economic boost to the area.
Pawleys Island and Myrtle Beach golf courses and beach resorts are preparing for a high level of traffic this spring and summer as prices at the gas pump continue to fall. At the gas station in front of the Pawleys Island Loewes supermarket, the advertised price for regular gas is $1.99 per gallon, the lowest I recall since my early visits to Myrtle Beach in the late 1960s. Myrtle Beach real estate officials, who experienced their best year of the decade in 2014, are also anticipating more sales traffic during the peak upcoming seasons. Condo prices still have not recovered substantially from the 2008 recession, and some prices remain low enough to make a vacation home within reach of many couples and families who might have thought such a purchase exceeded their grasp. For example, a 2 bedroom, 2 ½ bath unit in Pawleys Plantation, with a short walk to the first tee of the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, is currently listed at $124,900. (I played the golf course yesterday and it was in nice shape for the mid-winter; the greens were fast, the fairways only a little thin, and the dormant rough thick enough to prop up the ball a bit.) That unit can also be rented out to the almost constant flow of visiting golfers and families throughout the year.
I'll have more to say about the entire Myrtle Beach housing market in the coming days. In the meantime, if you would like more information about Pawleys Island, Myrtle Beach or any golf community rich area in the southeast, please contact me.
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For the price of an iTunes song, a ballpoint pen or a pound of chicken thighs, you can own a beautiful ½ acre lot in an upscale golf community in the Low Country of South Carolina.
In doing research for a recent article here on building a golf community home (click here to read), we noted that some home sites in such top golf communities as Belfair, Berkeley Hall and Colleton River, all in Bluffton, SC, are still priced at $1. We say "still" because this phenomenon started at the dawn of the recession roughly in 2008 after previously optimistic owners of homes in these golf communities purchased lots thinking they would appreciate in value as rapidly as they had through the early '00s. Many plunked down six-figures for a lot you can purchase today for as much as $300,000 less. The problem was that golf membership in these excellent clubs –- each with a minimum of 36 holes, and designed by the likes of Fazio, Nicklaus and Dye -– was and still is mandatory, obligating the owner of each lot to pay more than $15,000 in association and club fees. Some of the bullish owners had purchased multiple lots in the Bluffton golf communities, as well as in the Haig Point golf community on Daufuskie Island.
"Owner of this home site now owns a home in Colleton River and does not need two memberships," says one ad for a lot in nearby Belfair Plantation. "Thus he has priced for a quick sale." His sale price is $2.
You might think that lots priced at half that are the worst available in each community; but most are actually choice, with water or golf views and, in a couple of instances, a combination of the two.
"Magnificent long lagoon to green view of the 2nd hole of the Jack Nicklaus Course in Colleton River!" touts one ad for a $1 lot. "This home site...is located within a short distance of the Nicklaus Clubhouse, Bruce Boland Par Three Course, Fitness & Spa, Tennis Center and Aquatic Center."
"DOMINATING VIEW OF 17TH GREEN . . . on North Course" reads another ad, for a $1 lot in Berkeley Hall. "No one will ever build across street, no houses will ever be in view -- wonderful privacy for your dream home with screened lanai. Short walk down to 35,000 sq. ft. Clubhouse and staffed state-of-the-art Spa & Fitness Center."
We counted more than a dozen $1 lots for sale in these fine golf communities, but there are many more that we would put in the "bargain" classification. Count on construction costs in the Bluffton area to run between $140 and $200 per square foot, with the higher price for more upscale cabinets, appliances, flooring and other flourishes. Doing a bit of basic math, the cost to build a nice 2,500 square foot home in one of these high-end communities would run to $350,000 and up -– oh yes, plus $1 for the land.
The carrying costs in these communities skew a little higher than other comparable golf communities in the Southeast, but we figure you get about 10 years worth of savings with a bargain lot. (i.e. Comparable lots priced at $150K elsewhere divided by $15,000 annual costs equals about 10 years.)
If you would like more information or to make a visit to Bluffton, please contact me and I will put you in touch with our expert Realtor in the area. His commission on the sale will be about 3 cents, and my referral fee will be less than a penny but, hey, if you're happy, we're happy.
The common notion is that the pace of life in the southern U.S. is slower than elsewhere but, at least in one category, it is the fastest region in the nation. If you want to have a home built quickly, go south.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data and an article in a recent Wall Street Journal, it takes just 5.5 months on average to build a house in the South, compared with an average six months nationwide. Homes in the Northeast take the longest to build, 8.4 months, with the Midwest at 6.7 months and the West at 5.6 months. The averages, it seems, are related to weather; in winter, it is much harder to drive a nail, for example, in sub-freezing conditions than in the more balmy South. But the recession, and the fact construction workers went off and found other jobs, may also have an overhanging effect.
Although most of the golf community properties our customers have purchased through the years have been already-built homes, a few who purchased lots have since built homes to their own specifications and are wildly happy with the results – despite what we have all heard about the headaches and financial vagaries of building your own home. One retired couple we worked with decided they wanted to live at Governors Club in Chapel Hill, NC, but figured it was their last chance to design a home to their dream specifications; they bought one of the relatively few lots remaining in that established golf community, rented a home for nine months, and supervised the construction of their new golf home. (It took more than the average 5.5 months, but the rock outcroppings in Governors Club are a blessing for the eye but a curse for builders.) Our couple was ecstatic with the results.
Another couple scored one of the great bargains a few years ago at the Bluffton golf community Berkeley Hall, beautifully landscaped and with two Tom Fazio golf courses just off Hilton Head Island. For just $45,000, they bought a beautiful golf home site about 200 yards beyond the tee box on a par 5 hole that gives them a 300 yard view over an adjacent pond and down the fairway. Because they spent relatively little on the lot, they were able to add some extra finishing touches to their home.
Believe it or not, there are still a number of lots in otherwise high-end South Carolina golf communities priced as low as $1. We'll explain where they are and why they are priced so low in our next article.
My wife and I finally got around to two large boxes of newspaper clippings we had saved beginning around 1985, when we moved to Connecticut from New York City. Most of the clips were restaurant reviews of local establishments or recipes from the weekly food columns in the Hartford Courant. But buried among them were a few articles about vacation real estate. And as the sweep of history tends to demonstrate, the more things change the more they stay the same – well almost.
A Hartford Courant piece on "Investing" dated August 25, 1990 touted one expert's choice of "hot spots for second home" in its headline and focused on the Bend-Sunriver, OR, area and Steamboat Springs, CO, as well as ski areas Killington and Sugarbush in Vermont. But for those who prefer beaches to snow, the article said, three waterfront towns received high marks – Amelia Island, FL; Marco Island, FL; and Myrtle Beach, SC.
We haven't visited Marco Island, but by reputation, it is both a highly prized and highly priced suburb of Naples, which sports a wider range of housing options. (Note: In the 1990 article, the real estate expert noted a two-bedroom bungalow villa priced at $60,000; things have changed a bit in 25 years.)
We have a much better feel for Amelia Island and fancy ourselves somewhat expert on the subject of Myrtle Beach, where we have owned a vacation golf condo in Pawleys Island for 15 years and where we made our first golf trip in 1969. Amelia is a resort, about 20 minutes from Jacksonville and close by the charming seaside town of Fernandina Beach. Resident club members have to fight visiting golfers for tee times at the resort courses, but Longview, the Tom Fazio designed course that is essentially private -– resort guests have some privileges -– is a wonderful alternative. After some financial difficulties at the onset of the recession, the resort is now owned by the Omni Group which seems to be steering a steadier course.
Back in 1990, according to our retrieved article, Myrtle Beach had actually benefitted by the destructiveness of 1989's Hurricane Hugo, the insurance-backed repairs having helped to "spruce up and modernize many condominiums that frankly needed it badly." A quarter century later, many area condos could use an additional rehab, although we wish for no devastating hurricane as a fixer upper. The fact is that, given Myrtle Beach's reputation (and reality) as primarily a golf vacation destination, the area has been slow to snap back from the recession that began around 2008. Of course, that represents a buying opportunity for those looking for either a vacation home for a few weeks a year or a year-round golf-oriented condo or single-family home. We are perpetually confused and miffed at why flights to Myrtle Beach from the Northeast consistently cost three times as much as flying to Charleston, 90 minutes (by car) farther south. If Myrtle Beach's town fathers ever get their act together and cajole the airport authority into solving the cost of flights in and out and other image issues, Myrtle Beach could be a "hot spot" again. Until then, bargains abound.
Myrtle Beach Area Golf Communities to Consider
The Myrtle Beach area stretches from Georgetown in the south to the South Carolina/North Carolina border on the north end, a distance of about 60 miles. Given that the area boasts 100 golf courses, Myrtle Beach could be one of the densest golf destinations in the world. For those who choose a vacation home in the area, the number of private clubs are outweighed by daily fee and semi-private clubs about 95 to 5, making membership in any one club almost superfluous –- as does the consolidation of golf club ownership in the area. A member of the National Golf Management group of courses, for example, has more than a dozen golf courses at their disposal for deeply discounted prices and a nominal annual membership fee.
Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island, SC
Jack Nicklaus 18-hole semi-private golf course
Mix of condos, townhomes and single-family homes
Prices range from low $100s to $1 million
65 minutes to Charleston airport, 40 minutes to Myrtle Beach
DeBordieu Colony, Georgetown, SC
P.B. & Pete Dye 18-hole private golf course
Single-family homes from $500,000
60 minutes to Charleston airport, 45 minutes to Myrtle Beach
Note: Only beach in gated community on SC coast
Reserve at Litchfield, Litchfield Beach, SC
Greg Norman 18-hole private golf course, owned by McConnell Golf
Villas, cottages and single-family homes
Prices range from $400K to $1 million-plus
Note: Member accessed beach 1 mile away
Wachesaw Plantation, Murrells Inlet, SC
Tom Fazio 18-hole private golf course
Cottages and single-family homes
Prices from $200k to $1 million-plus
Note: Beach, "Restaurant Row," hospital w/in 5 minutes
Legends Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC
Three golf courses by Doak, P.B. Dye & developer Larry Young
Single-family homes from low $300s.
Note: Hoping bagpiper still plays every late afternoon.
Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach, SC
Schreiner/Price 18-hole "Members" golf course
Rulewich 18-hole "Resort" golf course
Single-family homes from $330K
Note: Just to west of Intracoastal Waterway but within a mile of ocean.
Barefoot Resort, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Four golf courses by Fazio, Love III, Dye and Norman
Condos and single-family homes from $200s
Note: Davis Love course features "ruins" behind 4th green
Note: There are dozens more golf communities in the Myrtle Beach area to fit every price range and style of play. Please contact us for more information or to build an itinerary of golf community visits in the area.
If you read the headlines of some of the top business magazines and newspapers in the U.S. this past year, you might have gotten the impression that the game of golf is on life support; that devoted golfers are dying off, that they aren't being replaced by millennials (18 to 34), that the recession that began in 2008 simply hastened the sport's demise, that Tiger Woods' growing irrelevancy on the PGA Tour eroded any slight lingering interest in the sport, and that the lack of new golf community development is a strong signal that no new golf courses will be built again...ever.
That is all sensationalist drivel. Certainly, the overbuilding of golf courses through the '90s and into the '00s created an unsustainable supply, and the 100-plus courses we have lost annually in each of the last few years is a reaction to that. But just like the demise of chains
Rumors of the death of Florida were greatly exaggerated during the recession that began in the late mid-2000s. Indeed, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report recently, Florida has surpassed the state of New York in terms of population, growing by almost 300,000 in the one-year period that ended July 1, 2014. New York's population increased by just 51,000 in that same period.
California is the most populous U.S. state followed by Texas and, now, Florida.
After rampant building of new golf communities up until the mid-2000s and then a total stop during the recession, developers are accommodating the renewed influx of population with new construction. Naples, formerly one of the hottest markets in the state and one of its most depressed during the recession, has rebounded so quickly that it has spurred national developers like Arizona-based Taylor Morrison to announce a new golf community in the area. Esplanade, located just three miles from Interstate 75, will comprise nearly 1,800 acres and include more than 1,100 homes and an 18-hole golf course. One thousand acres of the gated community will remain "natural," including over 170 acres of lakes.
Homes in Esplanade begin in the upper $300s.
The Naples area, which has a reputation for attracting wealthy residents, nevertheless is home to dozens of golf communities with the widest range of price points. For example, Heritage Bay, which was built by another national powerhouse developer, Lennar, and offers golf club membership "bundled" with the price of a home, features condos that begin in the mid $100s and coach homes that start in the low $300s. Heritage Bay's 27 holes of golf were designed by Paul Azinger and Gordon Lewis. At the other end of the price spectrum, Mediterra and its 18-hole Tom Fazio golf course, has only a few homes listed below the $1 million mark. In between the two golf communities are plenty of choices for folks looking for either a year round or seasonal home in a warm weather location.
For more information or two identify a home in Naples that will suit your temperament and pocketbook, please contact us.
It is tempting to assume that winter is a terrible time to sell a house, especially in the northern U.S. when things stop growing and blooming, even if they aren't covered in snow. But according to a 2013 study by real estate organization Redfin, updated last month, winter is actually the best time of year to sell your home.
February, according to the Redfin survey, is the best month to list a home for sale, with 66% of those homes selling within 90 days. And during the December to March timeframe, more homes sell for above their asking prices than they do during the spring and summer months. Perhaps some of us, sick of winters up North and dreaming of a golf community in the South, are pumping up the numbers in winter.
Other reasons for what appears to be an anomaly are simple; since most sellers believe, erroneously as it turns out, that they will command higher prices by listing their homes in the warm weather months, when the plants and flowers are in bloom and the lawns are green and mown,
If it weren't for the weather, most of us might choose to live out our years in the North or Midwest, according to a recent study released by the Millken Institute.
The research paper, titled "Best Cities for Successful Aging," looked at data across a range of factors, including safety, affordability, happiness, financial security, transportation, living arrangements and other attributes important for older folks -- but climate was not one of them. Based on the data rather than people's personal opinions, Millken, a west coast think tank, ranked large and small metro areas by their suitability for people ages 65 to 79, as well as for those 80 and over. Of the top 10 for "large" areas, only Jackson, MS, and Austin, TX, represent the South; in the "small metro" category, only south of the U.S. midpoint Midland, TX, makes the top 10.
Some of the choices are baffling, even in a context devoid of climate as a factor. For example, Boston, Honolulu and New York City all rank in the top 10 of the large metros, despite their lofty costs of living, especially real estate prices. Back out the need for a car in a public transportation heavy New York or Boston, and the costs to live there are still stratospheric compared with southern cities that pretty much require automobile ownership. Millken also defines the area around Bridgeport, CT (#10 for large metros), as "among the safest places to live." Most residents of Connecticut would not be likely to endorse that perspective.
As you might imagine, folks who have moved to the South or are considering it because they are fed up with cold winters, did not take kindly to the survey results.
"This list is for the birds (badly behaving birds)," wrote one of the visitors to TopRetirements.com, where the editors published some of the Millken results and top ranking metro areas. "If climate is not the criteria, which is the most important factor for seniors, then I can show you a lot more places that are far better than these. How about Iceland? Not listed here."
"If it's covered in snow and ice in the winter," proclaimed a writer from Minneapolis, "I'm not going to live there in the winter, no matter how great...winters can be so brutal, one becomes a shut-in for the other 4-6 months. I think it's life-extending to get out of here."
As mentioned, Jackson, MS, ranked in the top 10 for larger metro areas. The city, which is home to the University of Mississippi, ranked #6 for those 65 to 79, largely because it had the #1 ranking for healthcare, according to Millken, and the #5 ranking in the employment/education category. Austin's status as a high-tech center helped put it in the #1 ranking for financial status and #9 overall for the 65 to 79 age group.
There are almost 20 golf courses within 20 miles of downtown Jackson, including Reunion Golf & Country Club in the community of the same name and located in Madison, MS. Bob Cupp designed the golf course and members enjoy tennis, a fitness center, and swimming pool, as well as golf. Homes in the surrounding golf community range in price from $350,000 to over $1 million, with the sweet spot around $500,000.
By the way, Madison, WI, ranks #1 for large metro areas for folks 65 to 79, and #3 for those 80 and over. As I write this, the high temperature for the day in Madison has reached 27 degrees. It is 65 in Austin.
You can access the Millken report, including its rankings of the top 100 large metros and top 252 small metros, by clicking here.
A special edition of our free monthly newsletter, Home On The Course (HOTC), is almost ready to email to our list of nearly 1,000 subscribers. In our holiday issue, we present our first annual awards, the Hotsies, for the acronym of the name of our company and newsletter. The awards are both serious and a bit tongue in cheek, including an award for the Most Confusing Strategy by an Uber-Wealthy Golf Community Developer, the Wildest Hole of the Year, the Cheapest Golf Community Real Estate and others. We also share our ratings of all the public South Carolina golf courses we have played over the years. And as the year comes to a close and thoughts turn to...taxes, we distinguish among the four most popular states in the Southeast. Our conclusion is that it almost doesn't matter, relative to taxes, which state you choose; if you are moving from one of the old industrial states in the north, you will save on taxes, and likely in a big way, in any Southeastern state.
Subscribe now to Home On The Course by clicking here, and don't miss out on our big end-of-the-year issue.
A special edition of our free monthly newsletter, Home On The Course (HOTC), is almost ready to email to our list of nearly 1,000 subscribers. In our holiday issue, we present our first annual awards, the Hotsies, for the acronym of the name of our company and newsletter. The awards are both serious and a bit tongue and cheek, including an award for the Most Confusing Strategy by an Uber-Wealthy Golf Community Developer, the Wildest Hole of the Year, the Cheapest Golf Community Real Estate and others. We also share our ratings of all the public South Carolina golf courses we have played over the years. And as the year comes to a close and thoughts turn to...taxes, we distinguish among the four most popular states in the Southeast. Our conclusion is that it almost doesn't matter, relative to taxes, which state you choose; if you are moving from one of the old industrial states in the north, you will save on taxes, and likely in a big way, in any Southeastern state.
Subscribe now to Home On The Course by clicking here, and don't miss out on our big end-of-the-year issue.