price appreciation

  • The pandemic is changing our national behavior, in some cases forever. And although it seems hard to believe, the after-effects of Covid-19 may very well dramatically increase prices of high quality real estate in the Southeast and other warm climate locations. Time to get a move on South? That and more in this month’s newsletter.

    June 2020 
    Cliffs at Mountain Park,
    Travelers Rest, SC

    Making Book:  My Foray 
    Into Publishing


    I have completed a draft of my first-ever book, working title “Find Your Dream Golf Home in Less than a Year.”  When published later this summer, it will provide a step by step guide to the search for a golf community home.  I will share a lot more information about the book here in the next two months.

    I wrote the Introduction to the book a couple of months ago, shortly after the onset of Covid-19.  Here is the first paragraph:

    I write this at the height of the Coronavirus epidemic of 2020. Like every other American and global citizen, I am hoping for a speedy end to the crisis but am well aware that the after-effects, to the economy and our social behaviors, may change substantially.  At this point, it is hard to predict what exactly will change, but one thing I am sure of, as a Baby Boomer and a golfer:  Those of us who are 60-plus are going to move ahead with our retirement plans at the soonest possible time. And that means the migration to warmer weather and an active lifestyle will accelerate after the all-clear sign.”

    Time will tell, of course, whether that is prescient or bad insight on my part.  The Baby Boomer generation has always been slapped with the label “They want what they want,” and as a card-carrying member, I admit there is some truth in that.  We are quite conscious about how we spent our careers and how hard we worked, and to use the famous Smith Barney TV ad, we are proud that “We earned it.”  We are not about to go quietly without fighting for what we earned, a full and active retirement.  And for those of us who play golf, well, we may fight even harder than the rest of our cohorts.

    The possibility for unprecedented mass migration south is why the next 10 years are likely to be chaotic in the housing markets (see our main feature).  It is conceivable that the older, more disease-vulnerable among us will flee the cities for less densely populated environs.  As real estate prices in the cities decrease in consequence of more supply than demand, will younger people (many who think they are indestructible) move in, now that they will be able to afford the revised prices?  Will those who leave the cities head south or rather to an hour or two outside their current homes? If they head south in greater numbers, what effect will that have on prices?  On traffic and pollution?  On state and local politics?

    Golf courses that remained open for most of the pandemic have been flooded with golfers, even during some iffy weather in the North.  In an ironic way, has this disease breathed new life into a game we love and that, according to many media outlets, was previously on life support?

    My first internal dialogue when the pandemic hit, the stock market went into its gyrations and unemployment skyrocketed, was “Why, at a time of economic distress, are you writing a book about one of the biggest investments a couple will ever make?”  Over the last few weeks, it has become clear, to me at least, that people will continue to relocate to golf communities, but they will do so during a time of great challenge and wild swings in the markets. (I can’t resist thinking about one of my favorite childhood board games, “Chutes and Ladders.”)  That sounds like the right time for a book that helps them navigate their search.


    Connestee Falls, Brevard, NC

    Speed Thrills: Fiber Optic vs
    Standard Cable Broadband


    According to the site, fiber optic lines are faster than average broadband in the U.S.; you can therefore download more data and at a faster speed with fiber, and fiber is more reliable than copper, which conducts a cable signal.  Fiber can deliver data at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second.  Put in terms we can all relate to, fiber will generally deliver 100 photos or a full HD quality movie at speeds up to 20 times faster than the cable connection you are likely to currently use.

    The property owners’ association for Connestee Falls, a semi-private golf community in the mountains of North Carolina near Brevard, committed last year to laying fiber optic cables for all residents of the 3,800-acre community.  The cables have been laid in about half the community so far.

    “The people on the west side of Connestee who have been connected are thrilled,” said Carol Clay, our professional real estate contact in the Brevard area. “I read a post on social media from someone who said it's lightning fast and opens up new streaming options.” 

    If you are one of those non-retired working persons who looks forward to a rest-of-your-career spent largely at home, make sure you consider internet connections in any golf communities on your radar.


    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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    The South — and Home Prices There — Rise Again 


    Some pandemic behaviors will raise prices in Southeast golf communities over the next few months and years.  Some of those behaviors will be the natural results of forced changes in behavior, and others will be, well, to put it gently, based on unproven beliefs.

    Many people believe, for example, that hot weather eliminates virus transmission.  That is essentially a wives’ tale.  No scientific evidence shows a connection between heat and the evaporation of airborne droplets carrying the virus. (Source: World Health Organization “mythbusters”)  Indeed, countries with warm-weather climates, like Australia and Iran, have seen escalating numbers of Covid-19 victims the last three months.  But many otherwise reasonable folks will continue to believe that living in a hot climate will increase their chances against coronavirus.  Under normal circumstances, no one but an alligator would want to bear the heat of a Florida summer, but for those who cling to the belief that heat kills germs, the Sunshine State could be the place for them.  Add those reasons to all the people who migrate south because they prefer warm winters to cold, and you have the ingredients for upward pressure on house prices.

    “Many people [will] now have the option to live somewhere other than near their employer — and work from home.”

    More rooted in logic and experience, urban dwellers are leaving their houses for vacation homes they own or those they are able to rent in less population-dense locations.  Some will return to their cities when they perceive it is safe.  Others who are inclined and financially able to will pick up and move to the Southeast.  Many of them will trod the same paths as prior northerners and, in some cases, their parents who retired to Florida and other warm weather destinations.

    Tom Jackson, our real estate professional in the Bluffton/Hilton Head, SC, area, believes this is happening in the area he covers.

    “We are seeing folks from the North coming in [to Bluffton and Hilton Head],” Tom told me, “and we feel…with the virus, they are ready to get away from cities.”

    According to the Hilton Head area Multiple Listing Service, which includes Bluffton and surrounding areas, pending sales contracts between March 30 and April 26 jumped from 54 to 95, the largest single one-month increase of the year and the largest since the third quarter of 2019.

    The Myrtle Beach area has seen a slightly different experience with pending sales contracts the last two months, although the overall market is healthy.

    “The market was good when the virus started,” said our real estate professional Cathy Bergeron, who covers the Pawleys Island area south of Myrtle Beach, “so we have not really seen a drop in closings, but pending sales have dropped due to the buyers not being able to come in March and April.  

    “There will probably be a drop of sales for May, but we should be starting back in an upward turn for June.”  South Carolina is one of the states that opened beaches, restaurants and other “non-essential” businesses in May.

    Cathy added one other observation that could very well turn out to be the most compelling driver of sales traffic in the Southeast for the next few years.

    “Many people who could not move before,” she said, “may now have the option to live somewhere other than near their employer — and work from home.”

    The large population of employees working from home during the pandemic may have a strong and lasting effect on migration from cities to less densely populated areas, and from North to South.  Businesses are getting used to many of their employees working from home.  Imagine, if you will, that you live and work in a city or a populated suburban area of the North, that your business owners are fine with you continuing to do so and that you are concerned your local living conditions might continue to foster breeding grounds for the current virus, and future ones.  Your current cost of living is well above the national average, and you know you will spend less on annual expenses — in some cases, much less — by moving South.

    Mitigating circumstances for many, of course, will make them hesitate, among them their current proximity to family and friends and concerns that, if they have children, the schools in many places in the South will not be the equal of those in their areas.  (Check the state-by-state rankings here to see what I mean.) But most near-retirees, those in their 50s and older, will not be worried about their kids’ educations, their children having flown the nest some years earlier.  What a benefit it would be if you can spend the last few years of your career working from home in a warm weather (year-round) climate — catching nine holes most days of the week after work — in a house that costs you half of what your home in the North might sell for, and at a cost of living 30% of what you have been paying for the last 30 years or so.  You don’t need a financial advisor to figure out the positive lifestyle consequences of such a move.

    "You don’t need a financial advisor to figure out the positive lifestyle consequences of a move [south].”

    Global Workplace Analytics, an online service, estimates that 75 million people, or 56% of the total US workforce, have the kinds of job responsibilities that would support work from home.  In another telling statistic, GWA estimates that office workers spend 50% to 60% of their work time away from their desks. “Work-at-home,” a Global Workplace analysis indicates, “will save U.S. employers over $30 billion a day in what would have otherwise been lost productivity during office closures due to COVID-19.”  Does anyone think that when the pandemic is over, all of those business are going to ask their workers to, “Come back to the office and help us lose billions in productivity tomorrow”?

    Sellers of golf community homes in the Southeast, and the real estate professionals who list their homes, must be salivating over the possibilities of more intense migration to their areas.  The 2008 recession and negative news reports about the eroding popularity of golf scared most developers from opening new golf communities in the last dozen years.  People in the socioeconomic group that purchases golf homes are living longer and, therefore, staying in their homes longer.

    Those factors have conspired to create an inventory shortage of homes in the most popular golf-oriented areas.  In the Asheville, NC, area, the inventory of homes for sale is down by 25% year over year, to a supply of just 3.3 months.  Six months is considered “balanced” by the real estate industry.  In the Pawleys Island/Litchfield area south of Myrtle Beach, the supply of homes for sale was down 22% in April; in the overall Myrtle Beach area, the supply of homes at the end of April was less than five months.  

    The short supply of homes with demand that has remained steady has kept prices level or even up a bit in high-quality golf communities.  In Myrtle Beach so far this year, prices are up 3.6% compared with the first third of last year.   In the Pawleys Island area, median prices are up over 6% during the same period. Up in the mountains in the Asheville area, median sales prices this year are up 6.7%; and in nearby Henderson County, home to a number of deluxe golf communities, median prices are up more than 11% year over year.

    Consider what happens when the pent-up demand from newly retired couples who put their searches on hold during Covid-19, and the added migration south from those who will be working from home and folks scared to continue to live in their cities meets these inventory shortages.  Price increases of 10% and more per year could very well be the norm for the next few years.

    “The supply of homes for sale in the Asheville, NC, area is just 3.3 months.”

    Since some of you reading this are residents of a golf community already, my advice is to resist the temptation to get top price for your house, stay put if you are happy with your home, your surrounding community and with all the other factors that roll up into a happy and healthy lifestyle.  If you aren’t happy, these next few months would be a good time to consider selling and moving someplace you think will make you happier.  Just be mindful that the price you pay for your next house may be just like yours; that is, higher than it was the year before.  Two can play the game.

    For those contemplating a move South from an urban or suburban area, and who expect to work from home, I have two words for you (well, three actually) — fiber optics and cable.  Golf communities built over the last 10 years most likely laid either fiber optic or high-speed cable lines throughout. If your work communications will depend on speed and reliability, make sure that any place you live can support that.  (Fiber optic transmissions are estimated at 20 times faster than standard cable transmissions. See the accompanying sidebar.) 

    In the meantime, I would be pleased to help anyone who wants to get a move on to define and execute a search for a golf home.  Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). There is no fee or obligation for my assistance.


    Larry Gavrich
    Founder & Editor
    Home On The Course, LLC



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