Thaw in market: Golf Community Reviews may be a leading indicator

          Numbers don't lie, but the data about the housing market can be confusing.  What does it mean, for example, that housing starts improved month to month?  Are we seeing more new homes because of buyer demand or because builders are trying to keep their employees working before they leave for a more predictable industry (like hamburger flipping, perhaps)?  Do any of us really care about home sales volume if prices are not recovering?

         Foreclosure issues still hang over the housing market (and over the recession, which ended

Hanging on to a house with taxes of $16,000 to get a few extra dollarsin sale price before you move to that home in NC with $2,000 in taxes may be a fool's economy.

this week, according to Fed Chairman Bernanke), but their impact on the market of concern to us here -- vacation and retirement homes on golf courses -- is dubious.  There are generally two housing markets developing in America -- the one that needs an $8,000 stimulus to buy a house, and the market in which enough wealth has been built over the length of careers that moving from one $500,000 home to another (in a warmer climate) is a realistic dream.

         According to my inbox and telephone, those in this latter group are coming off the sidelines.  I never thought of this humble blog site as a leading indicator, just a place for honest information about golf real estate where I throw a few ideas and honest reviews of golf communities out there and if someone connects to what I've written, they might send me an occasional question or comment. 

         Over the last few years, those have not exactly flooded in, or even petered in...until now.  In the last few weeks, no more than a few days have gone by without some contact from a couple asking for ideas about their next stop in the housing market.  They are generally within a couple of years of age 60; retired or a year within retirement; typically looking for a home in a golf community in the Carolinas and Georgia (not Florida, at this point); and ready to take whatever the market will give them for a price on their primary homes up north (although I am working with one Florida couple looking to move to the Carolinas). 

         Maybe the knowledge that winter is just around the corner is driving most of them, but I think something stronger is at work here.  Baby boomers, who have worked hard to reject the Depression mentality and sacrificial personalities of their parents, may have reached the point at which they realize that deferring their dreams while they wait for the value of their primary homes to come back is too steep a price to pay.  Some, like the nice lady from New Jersey I spoke with yesterday, have also figured out that waiting is a fool's economy when taxes on your primary home are $16,000 a year and taxes on the home you have looked at in North Carolina are just $2,000.

         There are plenty of good personal reasons for people to defer a move, such as family issues, part-time job prospects, and other important aspects related to lifestyle.  But in this market, at this time, and with more boomers starting to begin again the migration south that was interrupted in 2005 with the collapse of the market and many stock portfolios, waiting for one home to increase in value before you buy another that is likely to appreciate faster could be a costly game.

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