Stable real estate market with great weather and golf

    The brutal weather in the northeast this weekend, which included two separate snow storms and a thick coating of ice, got me thinking ahead to our trip to South Carolina between Christmas and New Years.  That may not be far enough south; weather during the last weekend of December is always a crapshoot along the Carolinas coast.  I've played golf that week in short sleeves and I've played in a ski jacket.  I recall a tenderfoot from New Jersey whom I was matched up with at Pawleys Plantation one year.  He was so bundled up he looked like the Michelin Man, and swung like him as well.
    The only sure bet this time of the year is someplace undeniably warm, like the Caribbean or southern Florida.  Friday's Wall Street Journal, which was not delivered to my driveway because of the snow, featured an article about Americans investing in island homes.  Properties in the Dominican Republic, the article indicates, have appreciated by double digits in recent years.  Sounds good to me; many years ago, I spent one of the most relaxing

I spent one of the most relaxing weeks of my life at the Casa de Campo resort...

weeks of my life at the Casa de Campo resort in La Romana and its Pete Dye-designed Teeth of the Dog course, always rated one of the best in the world.  The resort also features two other Dye courses.  My visit was in July and I didn't think it was any warmer than back in Connecticut; the ocean breezes kept things rather temperate and made the golf more challenging.
    After a scan of a few Dominican Republic real estate sites, I can understand the attraction for Americans looking to put some cash into a "safe" retirement or second home.  At the Trust Realty site, an attractive condominium at the Coscotal Golf and Country Club in Punta Cana is listed at $235,000 US and single-family homes from the mid $300s.  The 27-hole resort course, designed by the Spanish "Picasso" Jose Pepe Ganzedo, is long and plays through wetlands and hard-packed sand areas.  We understand that hammering from the new construction along the course can be a distraction.
    In Casa de Campo, a two-story home with three bedrooms and two baths located in the resort's marina is listed for $470,000.   A three-bedroom, two-bath condominium villa with views of two holes of the golf course is listed for $345,000.
    If this all sounds like paradise, keep in mind that most flights to Santo Domingo from U.S. airports involve at least one change of planes, although the airport is served by most major airlines.  Non-stop flights are also available from Madrid and a few other European locations.  Santo Domingo is a good one-hour drive from Casa de Campo.  Despite the luxury accoutrements of some of the island's resorts, modern conveniences are still lagging a little outside the gates of the resorts.  And if you plan to build a home, especially in more remote areas, make sure there are established tradesmen in the area.  
    That said, the price is right on real estate in the Dominican Republic, the weather is splendid and the people friendly.  And with all the new wealth in emerging markets looking for places to invest, the resort real estate market has a chance of remaining stable for some time.  For many of us at this point, that may be more than enough.

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