The premiums for mountain views in established golf communities range from 10% more than your standard view of woods to as much as 50% if, on a clear day, you can see for miles, and your house is pointed in the right direction. The best direction is largely a matter of taste but, in general, western or southern exposures from the back deck of the home are the most preferred. With a west exposure, you get to watch the sun set over the mountains, which can provide some fascinating light patterns across the horizon. The downside, however, is that on a hot day, the late sun will shine perhaps too brightly on your deck, forcing you to guzzle your gin and tonic before the ice melts. With a southern exposure, the sun is likely to set on the side of the house, helping to keep that gin and tonic –- and whatever meal you serve –- at the proper temperature.
No matter the orientation for your future mountain golf home, there are a wide range of choices in the southeastern U.S. Here are just a few mountain golf communities, with a sample listing of homes with a view. If you would like more information on these or other mountain golf communities, please contact me.
Mountain Air, Burnsville, NC
Perfect for pilots or those who love to watch planes land and takeoff on this community’s mountaintop airstrip that bisects the golf course. Killer mountain views from most of the home sites, including a currently listed $459,000 4 bedroom, 5 bath house with stone fireplace, master on the main level and long range mountain views. 2,428 square feet on a .11 acre lot (Nothing to mow!) Includes golf cart and membership initiation fee (which Mountain Air indicates is a $75k value).
Wolf Laurel, Mars Hill, NC
A customer who recently visited Wolf Laurel told us he was “blown away” by the views from throughout the top half of the community. This is the rare “two sport” golf and ski community in the Carolina mountains, a place to live and play comfortably year round. In case you can’t decide which side of the house to sleep in, one home currently for sale has two master suites on the main level, and 2,553 square feet of living space in total. The views are toward Big Bald Mountain which you and your guests –- their suite is on the lower level, with a fireplace in the adjacent family room -– will enjoy. (The guest suite is a “kitchenette,” so they may not want to leave…). $439,999
Reems Creek, Weaverville, NC
Recently, customers from San Antonio were mightily impressed when they walked through the front door of a home in this sprawling community just 15 minutes from Asheville and saw the views through the large window at the back of the main level. They bought the $536,000 house later that day. Reems Creek is less a planned development than it is a neighborhood that surrounds a golf course, this one designed by the British firm Hawtree & Sons; if the name Hawtree sounds familiar, they designed Donald Trump’s recently opened seaside course in Aberdeen, Scotland. Perched on a .41-acre hill overlooking the course, a 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bath, one-level home looks out along the 2nd fairway and to the mountains well beyond. It is the definition of easy living, and the price is easy to take too, just $459,000, or $170 per square foot.
Balsam Mountain Preserve, Sylva, NC
You have to admire any golf community that gives over its best tracts of land to the golf designer. For better or worse –- sometimes your ball seems to disappear off the edge of the mountain -– Balsam Mountain deserves kudos for handing the mountaintop over to the Arnold Palmer Design group. No home sites, though, were cheated out of their own great views, as evidenced by one current craftsman-style home for sale that boasts views of the Plott Balsam Mountain range to the west, as well as longer distance views to other mountain ranges. At 2,806 square feet, there is plenty of room for 3 bedrooms and 3 ½ baths, as well as a guest suite above the two-car garage. With an additional 1,330 square feet of outdoor living space, there are plenty of opportunities for mountain gazing. $850,000.
The Cliffs at Glassy, Landrum, SC
It is quite a shock to find an actual completed, ready-to-live-in house for under $300,000 in any Cliffs community (or under $500,000, for that matter), but the recession and the community's subsequent bankruptcy filing had their effects on property values -– but not on the lushest roster of amenities of any group of golf communities anywhere. One bargain home has “beautiful mountain views,” according to The Cliffs’ web site, and two master suites on the main level, and an additional guest bedroom and bath on the lower level, along with a family room. It may be considered a “cottage,” but at 2,900 square feet and more than ¾ of an acre, there is nothing wimpy about this home. And at a $298,000 list price, the Cliffs’ $50,000 golf club joining fee doesn’t look quite as tough. (Note: Other Cliffs Communities in the Greenville, SC area also feature dramatic mountain views.)
(Please note: The above-mentioned homes' descriptions are from published listings and not the result of any direct knowledge on our part. We cannot vouch for the condition of any of these properties and encourage our readers always to visit before investing in any home or lot.)
The View’s The Thing: What You See Is What You Pay For
Whenever I tour a golf community with a local real estate agent, I always ask, “What is the premium for a golf course view?” If I am in a community with lake or marsh views, I ask how much extra one has to pay for those views as well.
The responses can range all over the lot, but if I were to average all responses over the last 10 years, the premium above a standard “wooded” lot is 10% to 20% for golf course view and 30% to 50% for a water view (ocean or expansive marsh, but not “lagoon,” which carries only a small premium typically).
Frankly, though, I’ve never actually compared prices within specific golf communities to confirm or deny those estimates. So here goes. To avoid complicated record searches, I used the listing prices for homes currently on the market, mindful that some people may over-inflate their asking price. I tried to find homes of comparable square footage on lots of comparable sizes, but homes with the better views tend to be larger, not surprising in that those who can afford the best views can afford to build houses large enough to maximize those views.
In general, I found that, the better the view, the more expensive the home on a square foot basis. Price increases are pretty much a straight line up from wooded views to golf views to water views –- with a few exceptions. At the moment, a home on one of the six golf courses at The Landings outside Savannah is actually cheaper, on a per square foot basis, than one of the lowest priced single-family homes with a view of trees only. The same is true at The Reserve at Lake Keowee.
You have beautiful water views every time you leave or enter the island. That’s because it is reached only by ferry from the Haig Point owned and operated embarkation center on Hilton Head Island. Developed originally by International Paper Company, Haig Point's unique type of island living and niche appeal keeps real estate prices correspondingly low, but annual carrying charges are at the high end because of transportation costs (expensive to run that ferry). Still, after you purchase a fine home at Haig Point for 50% less than a comparable property in a mainland golf community, bank the savings and use them to pay for the extra maintenance costs.
Wooded View: 2,991 square feet, 1.1 acres, $225,000, $75 per sq. ft Golf View: 2,659 square feet, .9 acres, $325,000, $122 Water View: 3,562 square feet, 1.1 acres, $850,000, $239
Bald Head Island, NC
Whereas Haig Point and Daufuskie Island are perpetually laid-back in terms of lifestyle, Bald Head can be a bustle of activity in summer, when the island is jammed with sun worshippers. There is not a lot to do in the evenings, and golf cart accidents involving those who may have overindulged in, ahem, certain liquid forms of entertainment are infrequent but an issue. (Like Haig Point, Bald Head has no cars save for a few service vehicles.) The golf course is among the most faithful links style on the east coast, not exactly Shinnecock Hills in terms of difficulty or design, but tremendous fun nonetheless. Lots of partial-ownership opportunities for those who want a few weeks each season, although the dead of winter can be a bit dreary and dark. (I know, I was lost in a golf cart there late at night for 3 ½ hours one November, and the absence of streetlights made for a disorienting ordeal.) But that should not stop you from considering Bald Head if you love beaches and golf.
Wooded View: 1,801 square feet, (size unknown), $499,000, $277 per sq. ft. Golf View: 2,100 square feet, .21 acres, $739,000, $352 Water View: 2,701 square feet, .34 acres, $995,000, $368
DeBordieu Colony, Georgetown, SC
Debby Doo, as the locals call it, doesn’t get its proper due among coastal golf communities in the Southeast. It is one of the only gated golf communities we know that maintains its own private beach, accessible by most of the residents by bicycle, golf cart or their own two feet. Although the Pete Dye golf course is not wacky with moguls or other excesses, it is a giant tease in that you can smell the ocean and hear the ocean but you never see it. The early developers of the community gave all the oceanfront land to homes, some of which have sold as high as $5 million. (We note that a ¼ share of an ocean-view home with a short walk to the beach is currently listed at $380,000.)
Wooded View: 2,900 square feet, 1 acre, $499,000, $172 per sq. ft. Golf View: 3,000 square feet, 1 acre, $525,000, $175 Water View: 3,601 square feet, 1 acre, $1,298,000, $360
(Note: This last home is not on the ocean but has a peek at it, along with marsh and inlet views.)
The Ford Plantation
A 1,800-acre golf community about 20 minutes south of Savannah, Ford Plantation has been rather slow in developing, no surprise given its high-end nature and the recession’s effect on such communities. However, if investment is any indication of financial health, Ford Plantation appears to be robust. The community is currently undergoing a $7 million renovation to its Pete Dye golf course which, when I played it six years ago, was perfectly fine by me. The new course will be ready in October.
The following are prices for available lots at Ford Plantation. Count on around $200 per square foot or more to build...and keep up with the Joneses down the block. Most resale homes weigh in above $1 million.
The Landings has plenty of wooded lots, and with six golf courses, an almost endless supply of homes with golf course views. Note below that one of the golf course properties is actually less expensive, on a per square foot basis, than a standard view home. Although not much open water bumps up against the 4,800-acre property comprising The Landings, there is a considerable amount of marsh which, at high tide, can give the effect of a huge lake. Some folks love the marsh look; others, not so much. (Count me in the former group.)
Wooded View: 2,671 square feet, .63 acres, $299,000, $271 per sq. ft. Golf View: 2,420 square feet, .49 acres, $347,500, $144 Water (marsh): 3,085 square feet, .44 acres, $559,000, $181
Landfall, Wilmington, NC
The ocean is about 10 minutes out the back gate of Landfall, but there are plenty of marsh views for those who like the ebb and flow of the tides. The golf is about as good as it gets, with the combination of 18 holes of Pete Dye and 27 holes of Jack Nicklaus (the tougher challenge of the two courses). Landfall is the most upscale golf community in the Wilmington area, but many homes are reasonably priced. Still, for the killer views, you will pay a premium.
Wooded View: 2,739 square feet, .18 acres, $407,000, $149 per sq. ft. Golf View: 3,604 square feet, .50 acres, $749,000, $208 Water View: 6,265 square feet, .76 acres, $1,599,000, $255
The Reserve at Lake Keowee, Sunset, SC
Lake Keowee has spurred development of golf communities that run the gamut in terms of prices for golf and lakefront properties. At the higher end, along with three Cliffs Communities, is the Reserve, whose founders maintain residences on the property and keep a watchful eye over all. The Reserve is decidedly upscale, but its leaders have been smart to add tasteful mid-six-figure cottages to the mix. The Jack Nicklaus golf course is good enough to host an annual round during the BMW Charity golf event on the Web.com tour.
Wooded View: 1,800 square feet, .45 acres, $599,000, $332 per sq. ft. Golf View: 4,600 square feet, 1.18 acres, $1,150,000, $250 Water View: 4,600 square feet, 1.62 acres, $1,499,999, $326
Amelia Island Club, Fernandina Beach, FL
Amelia Island is pretty much the ultimate in both beach and golf, with an oversupply of both. For those who don’t mind a little sweater weather in winter or abhor the congestion of Florida’s more popular areas to the south, Amelia offers permanent vacation potential. And Jacksonville, no slouch as a city, is within a half-hour drive. With a number of golf courses to choose, including the mostly private Long Point, a Tom Fazio honey, serious golfers won’t have to fight the resort crowd for tee times most of the year.
Wooded View: 2,009 square feet, .44 acres, $429,900, $214 per sq. ft. Golf View: 1,680 square feet, .15 acres, $475,000, $283 Water View: 2,825 square feet, 1.44 acres, $799,000, $283
The Most Reliable Golf Course Ratings in the Carolinas
CarolinaLiving.com has just published a feature article by yours truly about the South Carolina and North Carolina golf ratings panels. In the piece, I make the case for why the panels' ratings, published annually at their web sites, are reliable indicators of golf course quality for visiting golfers and those moving to the Carolinas for a golfing lifestyle. You can read the article at http://www.carolinaliving.com/life/golf-courses-carolina.asp.