Golf becomes desired amenity again; prices flat as inventories rise; other notes from Live South

    We reported in yesterday's post about the vibe at the Live South show in Greenwich, CT (the show ends at 5 p.m. today, Sunday).  Here are a few additional notes we took during our tour of the show:

  • Live South founder Dave Robertson shared some of his organization's research that indicates golf is hot again, ranking second -- behind walking -- as the most desired activity for those contemplating a move south (55% of respondents attending Live South show included golf on their list).  Tennis and swimming also showed impressive gains in interest.  31% indicated a preference for a gated community, a significant increase from pre-9/11 levels.
  • During his seminar called "How to Choose the Right Place," Robertson indicated there is an average of 7.3 months of housing inventory in the south, below the historic lows of 10% back in the 1990s.  We have no reason to dispute the number but, like politics, all real estate is local, and averages mislead.  In Wilmington, Robertson's hometown, real estate brokers tell us the inventory is at 15%.  A range of inventories is a more helpful figure than an average.
  • Robertson indicated that most new homes in the south are in the 1,800 to 2,500 square foot category but that two master suites has become the rage, the better to accommodate kids and grandkids.  On the other hand, he told the amusing tale of the couple who decided to move into an age-restricted community largely so they could unburden themselves of a 35-year-old son who lived at home.
  • Soft housing market be damned.  The marketing folks we talked with at the show booths said they haven't seen any price erosion in their communities, although they acknowledged that inventories of unsold homes were up.  The representative from a construction company confirmed the same from the builder's side (slower sales but no price erosion).  We were especially impressed with the number of brand new communities touting their wares at the show.  Since they opened last fall, three of them said they had sold more than 120 home sites each.

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