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February 2013

    February 2013

February a super time
to search for your
golf home

    I write this on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday.  Last night, a friend invited my wife and me over to dinner to, as she said in her note, “help cheer [her] up.  I hate February.”  For those in the northeast, especially those of us who play golf, February is the cruelest month.  Daytime temperatures are almost relentlessly in the 20s and 30s, and the promise of the groundhog’s shadow and the coming spring is scant compensation. Sports pages that tout the opening of spring training baseball in Florida and Arizona later this month only rub it in.  And, of course, reports coming from New Orleans, site of the Super Bowl, were for temperatures to reach nearly 70 degrees.  (Yes, I know the game was indoors, but still…)  That’s just wrong for those of us suffering a cold, harsh winter.
    By the time you read this, the big game will be over, but not the cabin fever many of us northerners feel.  As an antidote, I strongly suggest the coming weeks as a great time to explore a few golf communities in the southern U.S.  We can help you quickly build an itinerary that includes both golf and local color, as well as tours of the golf communities (typically no more than 90 minutes to two hours).  Please contact me for more information or, better yet, fill out our new online questionnaire.  It will shorten the process of identifying those golf communities that best match your requirements and help us build together the best itinerary for your visit.  Click here to go directly to the questionnaire.  (Note:  We will never share your personal information with anyone without your express permission.)

A Cold Day in ….

On Super Bowl Sunday, here were the high temperatures (in Fahrenheit) in some northern cities and southern golf communities.  Although the weather was not consistently perfect in the South, the fact is it was warm enough to play golf, something we can’t say for any of these northern cities.  We provide links below to current properties for sale in a few of our favorite golf communities (just click on the community's name).

High Temps on Feb. 3 in…
Schaumburg, IL
  20 (snow showers, wind to 18 mph)
Carolina Colours, New Bern, NC
  50 (partly cloudy)

Columbus, OH
   24 (flurries, wind to 15 mph)
Grand Harbor, Ninety-Six, SC
   57 (sunny)

Pittsburgh, PA    26 (snow showers)
Daniel Island, Charleston, SC
    60 (sunny, wind to 22 mph)

Havertown, PA    33 (snow showers)
The Landings, Savannah, GA
   67 (showers, 40% chance)

Morristown, NJ    30 (cloudy)
Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, FL
  69 (partly cloudy)

Great Neck, NY    32 (cloudy)
Audobon CC, Naples, FL
   72 (partly cloudy)

Reader Feedback

  We want to make this newsletter as useful as possible for you. If you have comments, suggestions or observations about the newsletter, please email them to: editor@homeonthecourse.com.
   I promise to respond quickly. Thank you.
-- Larry Gavrich, Editor



Can You Be A Little More Specific?
How to Bring Order to Your Search
for the Perfect Golf Home

    In a business ruled solely by supply and demand, as is real estate, there is generally just a single reason why one particular golf community’s homes are cheaper than those in another similarly organized and accessorized community:  FEWER PEOPLE WANT TO LIVE THERE.  Price reflects demand, all other things being equal.
   The least successful golf home searches are those that have as their top goal finding the best bargain.  Yet that is a fool’s errand, as shopping for a home is not exactly like shopping for a toaster oven, or even a car.  The lowest priced real estate in a community far from shopping is no bargain, for example, if you shop for the evening meal every day.  Ditto if you hate traffic and crowds; a home at the edge of an urban community might cost less than most other similar communities, but it is no bargain if your goal is to be far from the maddening crowds.

No bargain in the lowest price
    Over the years, it is clear to me that the couples who conduct the most efficient and rewarding searches for their golf homes start by getting the lay of the land; that is, they decide if they want to live on or near the coast, in the mountains or somewhere in between (say, for example, the Lakes Region of South Carolina).  Then, even before they start looking into specific golf communities, they focus on a specific geographic area.  It might be a stretch of coast -– say Wilmington to Myrtle Beach -- or a 40-minute radius around Asheville, NC, which includes the golf-rich and sophisticated Hendersonville/Flat Rock area.  Regardless of the choice, the important thing is that the swath of targeted geography not be too broad.  There are many hundreds of golf communities in the southeastern U.S. alone, and a husband and wife who have not homed in on a particular area will almost surely drive themselves nuts looking for a golf home that matches most, if not all, of their requirements.  You may not find the absolute lowest price, but your definition of “bargain” should be “a low price for exactly what we want.”

    Sometimes, the location of the golf home is dictated by a need to be within a few hours flight or drive from family and friends, but more often than not the choice of where to buy a golf home comes down either to the desire for an active lifestyle in a metro area with entertainment and cultural options, or a community-centered remote location without the traffic, pollution and stress of a near-urban environment. (We say “near-urban” because we don’t encounter many golf communities inside the boundaries of big cities.)   Fortunately for both types of couples, there are plenty of remote and near-urban located golf communities in the mountains, as well as along the coast.  No couple should have to search too hard to find their ideal spot. 


Know your geography
    Still, a few couples tell me they are not yet sure whether they want to be near a city or out in the boondocks, or if they want to look at homes on the coast or in the mountains.  To me, that is a sign they have a difference of opinion between them (or they are approaching the search for a golf home as a lark, an excuse for vacations to different venues).  Earlier in our marriage, my wife and I had a similar discussion.  She doesn’t play golf but loves the beach; I love golf and -– sorry, Honey –- don’t find much satisfaction in lying on hot sand.  We bought a vacation home in Pawleys Island, SC, because even though I enjoy mountain golf, I like coastal golf just as much, and I have about as much enthusiasm for mountain hikes as I do for sandy sunbathing.  I wish I could offer arbitration services to those in similar quandaries but, alas, some important things need to be settled between spouses with serious discussion before a search for a home.  Where you want to live is certainly one of them.


New online tool helps you focus your search
     After the essential question of geography is settled, then you can get down to the work of identifying which specific communities in a particular area meet your requirements.  For this I use the Home On The Course Questionnaire that my customers tell me helps them focus on their requirements for a golf community.  It also helps me to understand what they are looking for, and I can more effectively match their criteria to some of the many golf communities I have researched and visited.  The questionnaire, which takes about 10 minutes to fill out, is now available online, so feel free to access it (click here).  Once you submit your responses, I will get back to you within a few days with some preliminary ideas about specific communities that match your requirements.
    For those couples that really haven’t made up their minds about where they want to live, the form does permit you to check more than one location (mountains, lakes and coastal).  But count on me to help you narrow down the geography before the serious part of the search begins.


Calculated Risk Rewards Those Who Read It

     When I find a good putter, I stick with it.  My current Taylor Rossie has been in my golf bag for more than 10 years. (I haven’t changed my grip either.)  So it is with blog sites, especially those whose information can change your fortunes, if not the entire course of your life.  Once you find one that makes sense consistently, you should stick with it.  
    Which brings us to the Calculated Risk Blog authored by Bill McBride, a publicity shy Californian who nailed the two most dramatic turns in the housing market over the last seven years.  First was in 2005 when McBride warned anyone who would listen -– or read his then new blog –- that record homeownership and faltering household incomes was anything but a toxic mix.  According to a feature story about the blogger in the Tribune Newspapers, a conversation McBride had with a woman who had paid 10 times her annual income for a home helped send him running to his keyboard.  His most recent watershed prediction was last February, when he was one of the first observers to signal the housing market had reached its bottom.  
    McBride keeps a running summary of his last 10 blog posts, and the latest list includes half directly about home prices and the housing market; the other five (about a non-manufacturing index, restaurant traffic and other signals) provide a good picture of the overall economy in plain language any armchair economist will appreciate.  McBride has no apparent ideology, but economists on both sides of the philosophical spectrum, including Nobel Prize winner and news columnist Paul Krugman, are regular readers.
    Earlier this year, some of the real estate professionals I work with were signaling increased traffic to their local golf communities, which built throughout 2012.  Now they tell me prices are starting to rise incrementally as well.  Between those reports and the solid confirming evidence from a site like CalculatedRiskBlog.com, it does look like happier days are here again.



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