There is no one way to conduct a search for a golf community home, but a couple I worked with from Connecticut should be in the Golf Home Search Hall of Fame for the speed and efficiency with which they went about it. Also, we check the market for golf community homes currently available in the $300,000 range.
From time to time, I plan to scan the golf community markets in the Southeast and post current listings in a specific price range. The homes I refer to are located in communities I have visited and can recommend. This month we focus on reasonably priced home on the coasts of the Carolinas. Please note that by the time this article is published, one or more of the listed homes may have sold; but there are plenty of others in each of these communities.
Brunswick Forest, Leland, NC
List price: $294,900
Specs: 1,776 square feet, 3 BR, 2 BA
Golf: 18 holes by Tim Cate
Membership: $4,500 per couple annual dues,
no initiation fee (semi-private)
Brunswick Forest is one of the most successful golf courses on the east coast, in terms of sales, since just before the recession of 2008. It is conveniently located just 10 minutes from the bustling university town of Wilmington, NC; there is plenty of shopping at the edge of the community. The Cape Fear National Golf course, designed by a local architect, is links style, with plenty of sand.
Dataw Island, St. Helena, SC
List price: $309,000
Specs: 1,876 square feet, 3 BR, 2 BA
Golf: 36 holes by Arthur Hills, Tom Fazio
Membership: $455/ month per couple
Dataw feels as if it is remote and surrounded by marshland, but it is a mere 20 minutes from the charming southern town of Beaufort and no farther from the Atlantic ocean beach at Hunting Island State Park. Homes are reasonably priced, especially those that, after nearly 40 years, could use a bit of updating.
Callawassie Island, Okatie, SC
List price: $299,000
Specs: 2,387 square fee, 3 BR, 3 BA
Golf: 27 holes by Tom Fazio
Membership: $15,000 initiation,
$800 per month in dues
Callawassie shares a guarded gate with the super exclusive Spring Island, about midway between Bluffton and Beaufort and within 45 minutes of the Savannah International Airport. The community’s landscape is characterized by sprawling live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. This home, like many others at Callawassie, is set among those trees. One especially nice feature in the community is that golf cart owners – there are many of them – get to use them on the golf course without any charge (trail fee).
Moss Creek Plantation, Bluffton, SC
List price: $285,000
Specs: 1,882 square feet, 3 BR, 2 BA
Golf: 36 holes by Tom Fazio
Membership: $23,000 initiation fee,
$5,523 annual dues
Moss Creek is the most established golf community in Bluffton and is located just off the bridge from Hilton Head. At more than 40 years of age, the communities lower-priced houses, like this home, tend to need a bit of updating. The Fazio golf is excellent, good enough to have hosted an annual LPGA event in Nancy Lopez’ competitive days.
Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island, SC
List price: $275,000
Specs: 2,200 square feet, 4 BR, 3 BA (patio lot)
Golf: 18 holes by Jack Nicklaus
Membership: $2,500 initiation fee,
$787 dues per quarter (semi-private)
Pawleys Plantation is located 40 minutes south of Myrtle Beach International Airport and an hour north of Charleston. The guarded front gate of the community is a mere six-minute drive to one of the nicest beaches on the east coast. The back nine of the Nicklaus course opens out to the expansive marsh that separates the community from the ocean. The home for sale is on a ¼ acre lot and has a view of the golf course. Since Pawleys Plantation golf course is open to the public, vacation homeowners there do not need to maintain a membership and can pay as they play. (Editor’s note: My wife and I own a condo in Pawleys Plantation.)
If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at email@example.com
Connecticut Couple’s Perfect Search for a Golf Community Home
Shortly before Christmas, Jeff and Joni of Simsbury, CT, told me that they intended to identify a golf community in the Southeast and then put their home in Connecticut on the market by the end of spring. They had been thinking seriously about a move South for the last few years. Long story short, their Connecticut house recently sold on its first day on the market, and they purchased immediately a resale home they had looked at in the Low Country of South Carolina.
Negotiating the non-negotiables
That capsule of their search makes it sound pretty easy; in a way it was, if your definition of “easy” is visiting 24 golf communities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in just 14 days over two separate trips, and stepping inside the front door of more than 30 homes. But Jeff and Joni conducted what was, in my 12 years of helping couples with their golf community choices, the quickest and most efficient search ever. Their research and preparation helped them build some tight agendas for visits and yet, more importantly, helped them past some of the traps that couples encounter when they don’t understand each other’s non-negotiable items.
For them, the non-negotiables were few and clear cut: Jeff wanted excellent golf and a community and country club, preferably with two courses, that charged reasonable and predictable costs; and Joni wanted a house with a great view located within a reasonable driving distance of a full-service town and airport. (Their children and grandchildren live near Philadelphia.)
Having “the talk” is a must
Agreeing on priorities was easy for the couple when they started discussing an eventual move. Call it “the talk,” if you will, but Jeff and Joni discussed at length and agreed on what they needed from their golf community of the future. Their top four considerations were lifestyle, weather, topography and economics. In terms of lifestyle, their new community would need to have excellent golf and tennis facilities — golf for Jeff, golf and tennis for Joni — in a congenial atmosphere of people generally their own age, which is mid-60s. As for the golf, Jeff intends to play four to five times a week, with Joni playing about twice a week, supplementing her active schedule with tennis.
They didn’t require a community within a short distance of a major city, but they did prefer access to a full range of services and entertainment options within a half hour or so (a small, vibrant southern town would do). They have friends who live in most of the areas they visited, and their ideal final choice would put them within a half hour of some of those friends.
They were definitely targeting warm weather locations for two main reasons; first, like so many of us New Englanders, they were sick of Connecticut winters but, second, and more importantly, Jeff has a nagging physical issue that responds better in warmer weather. A climate that supports 12-months-a-year golf would fill the bill.
Mountains, lake or coast: You have to pick one
I preach that the first decision in any search should be topography; if a couple doesn’t know — or agree — whether they want mountains, lake or coast for their golf community, their search could very well be endless; at the very least, it will take many years. (Clearly, those types of couples haven’t had “the talk.”) Jeff and Joni were clear and totally in sync that they wanted to be near the coast, and within a reasonable drive of an ocean beach (and their friends in Bluffton, SC).
Last on the list of criteria was “economics,” or the cost of living comprising taxes, real estate prices and the other necessities of life. Coming from a fairly high cost area of the country, their cost of living was going to drop wherever they chose to live in the South, with the possible exception of some locations in Florida. As it turned out, their total cost of living will drop by almost 24% in the move from Simsbury, CT, according to the cost of living calculator at BestPlaces.net.
Coming next month:The choice of a golf community for Jeff and Joni, and how they got there, literally and figuratively.
Dataw Island, St. Helena, SC
Larry Gavrich Founder & Editor Home On The Course, LLC