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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sticker shock: What happens when you inherit all those amenities?

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The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyard, a sparkling Tom Fazio design, is one of six courses (a total of eight planned).  Besides golf, The Cliffs offers such amenities as wellness centers, equestrian centers, and nature trails.


Tip #1:  Avoiding the traps when buying into a golf community

    This is the time of the year for Top 10 lists, and Golf Community Reviews can pander with the best of them.  Over the coming few weeks, we will share in this space our top 10 ideas for making the smoothest possible move to a golf community.

    Golf communities run the gamut from a pure focus on golf -- a course and a clubhouse and little else -- to a roster of amenities that counts golf as just one of the activities.  You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get.  There is a reason, for example, that The Cliffs Communities in the Carolinas charges $150,000 for club membership, in addition to the fact they believe they can; The Cliffs offers more amenities than any other community (including its number of golf courses, but more about multiple golf courses in a later tip).  Communities with just one good golf course may not top $5,000 in initiation fees, and the club dues they charge are likely to be half of what the amenities-loaded communities assess their members.
    If golf is your prime or only physical activity, you don't need the fitness

Sales agent rationale is likely to be that the more amenities, the greater your eventual resale price.  Don't fall for it.

center with the most modern Nautilus machines or the equestrian center with the 20-stall barn and the Olympic size-walking ring.  Sales agent rationale is likely to be that the more amenities, the greater your eventual resale price.  Don't fall for it.  The load of amenities is designed to help the developer sell properties to the broadest swath of potential customers.  In such a community, you will be living cheek by jowl with people who don't play golf but who are as emphatic about their activity as you are about yours.  
    But one day, the developer will sell all properties and turn over the amenities to the residents or an outside management firm.  Either way, theequestriancenterwhoasign.jpg developer stops subsidizing the costs of maintenance and replacement for the pools, fitness centers, tennis courts, nature trails, marinas and golf courses.  Then sticker shock sets in for you and your fellow residents; you bought it, you own it.  Suddenly, the equestrian center doesn't smell so good to the golfers, and the horse people wonder why it costs so much to cut the grass on the golf course.
    I know, it is like the old saying that if you can afford $150,000 in initiation fees, you shouldn't have to ask how much dues are.  All true, but these days, in the wake of the Madoff ripoff and the overall hit to investment portfolios, you cannot be too careful.

Read 4128 times Last modified on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 09:39
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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.