The starting hole at Bayside Golf Club. Golf photos courtesy of Bayside.
For 90% of those who own property in Delaware’s Bayside Golf & Resort community, the nearly two feet of snow on the ground this week is of minor consequence, since they use the homes mostly in the summer. Bayside, located in Selbyville, just a few miles from the popular Ocean City (MD) beaches, draws its vacation homeowners substantially from D.C., Philadelphia and New Jersey. Its part-time residents didn’t choose Delaware with the expectation of balmy winter weather, but this winter has been unusual.
I can’t remember encountering before Bayside’s unique approach to selling homes. The Carl M. Freeman Companies, a noted local developer of beach resorts, opened Bayside five years ago, but after the untimely death of its leader, Joshua Freeman, the company's new leaders struck a deal with NVHomes, a residential builder with 25 years experience and the largest home builder on the local beaches. Freeman still owns all the undeveloped lots, but when NVHomes, which has exclusive rights to sell in Bayside, sells a villa or single-family home, NV purchases the lot from Freeman at a pre-determined price.
It sounds complicated but it is transparent to buyers and seems to work just fine. Since last May, the on-site sales office has sold 50 homes at prices ranging from $299,000 to the $400s. Last month (January), which is notoriously slow, the NVHomes office sold five homes compared with just one in January 2009.
'Tis the season for most residents to say away
Single-family homes at Bayside range in size from 1,800 square feet to 3,200 square feet. The villas (or town homes), which are all 2,400 square feet, are especially attractive from the outside. Nice touches such as gazebo-like pavilions dress up the communal areas. Freeman Companies built a few condominiums when they first opened the community but, thankfully, they stoped there; the condo buildings are not Bayside's most attractive feature and they give a few areas a more mundane appearance than the rest of the 870-acre property.
Certainly with such reasonable price points, the nearby beaches, and huge metropolitan areas within an easy weekend drive -– New York City is a little over four hours –- Bayside attracts mostly families looking for fun in the sun at a reasonable cost. Only about 20% of Bayside’s residents are retirees and only a relatively few of them live in the community year round. With the economy causing retirees to be more cautious than they were in the years of impressive stock market and house price gains, many are downsizing their expectations and the square footage of their retirement homes.
Developer provides music to residents' ears
In terms of amenities, Bayside offers most of those you would expect, such as pools and fitness center, but it still lacks a golf clubhouse. One especially nice touch: A stage near the front entrance attracts concerts and other activities on Thursday through Saturday evenings throughout the summer, most at no charge to residents or the public. Because of the Freeman family's longstanding philanthropy in the area, groups like the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, for example, are booked annually by the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation. A large billboard inside the community’s un-gated entrance announces a future indoor arts center.
Bayside's initiation fee for its Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course is comparatively high. At $30,000, it seems out of line with the club’s semi-private status, the modest pricing of the surrounding homes and the lack of a built clubhouse (club members can spread the payments out over 10 years). The $30,000 is more typical of members-only clubs in communities of high-six-figure homes. According to Freeman Companies officials, the $30,000 fee did not seem inappropriate when the median price of homes in the community were around $500,000; it seems Bayside has decided not to alienate its original members by reducing the price and depreciating the value of their charter members' memberships.
It should be noted that Bayside charges half the initiation fee of The Peninsula, a private Nicklaus Signature course in a Rehoboth, DE community about 30 minutes north; dues for full family golf at Bayside are a modest $295 per month, and members enjoy reciprocal privileges at two other nearby courses, Bear Trap Dunes and the Bay Club.
With the snow covering the course, I was not able to take a cart and explore; nor was I able to pick up a scorecard or other information because one of the golf course representative did not make it for our pre-arranged meeting. Despite the miss, I am looking forward to a return visit and a round of golf in balmier times.
If you would like more information about Bayside or would like to arrange a visit (after the snow melts), please contact me.
If you like peace and quiet and a bit of the white stuff, this is the winter for you on the Delaware coast.