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Featured Community

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Featured Properties

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Home Valuation

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Mortgage Calculator


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7 Mistakes Golf Home Buyers Make

I have been involved in hundreds of golf home transactions throughout my real estate career. I talk with homebuyers and homeowners every day. I often hear laments such as, “I wish I had thought of...” or “I wish someone had told me...”. It’s unsettling and completely avoidable. During my long career, I’ve listed homes which sold quickly and others which languished on the market season after season. Buyer after buyer passes up on the home and chooses another property. Sellers list their homes and tell me so many secret regrets. They also share their strategies for their next golf home purchase. Besides buying the wrong home, buyers also move into a community only to reverse course. They become overnight sellers, quickly re-listing and moving out because the community just wasn’t right or wasn’t what was expected. There is a lot to consider and buying a new home in a new community is a daunting process. I’ve learned much over the years. So, the following is a compilation of the 7 most common golf home mistakes to avoid:

1) Purchasing a Home on a Lot without a View This is commonly the most serious mistake a buyer can make. Why? Because when it is time to sell, the property will struggle to resell in a Seller’s Market. In a Buyer’s Market, lots of inventory is available. So, the house will linger on the market for an extraordinary length of time. If this is your first golf home purchase and you are coming from up north to sunny southwest Florida, then you need to understand a very basic reality. Most of the north is densely populated and you might have been in a development where the homes are built close to one another. Homeowners expect that their neighbor’s yard will be in their rear view. In this context, it is ok to have a nice, picturesque small yard. It’s not the same in a golf community. Most buyers will demand the most extensive view possible. They greatly prefer to look out over a lush green fairway or shimmering lake, see the wildlife and watch the golfers cruising up and down the fairway. Buyers who will consider a restricted view are quite limited in number. Builders definitely know this, so developers charge a steep premium for extensive golf views. The unwritten rule is, the better the view the higher the lot premium. Conversely, the worse the view, the lower the lot premium. (This is why some lots are even free.) Some restricted views enjoy a better chance of selling than others. Here are some possible views and their impact on resale:

  • A lot backed up to another home is the worst possible choice.
  • A lot backed up to a road, parking lot, large power lines and/or street noise is the second worse choice.
  • A lot backed up to a dense preserve which comes too close to the house. This lot will sell in a seller’s market but really struggle in a buyer’s market. (Ask me why?)
  • A lot backed up to a tee box. Many buyers tolerate sitting on their lanai, only to be constantly interrupted by the next foursome waiting to tee off, gawking into their personal space and awkwardly striking up conversations with them. This lot will negatively impact a substantial number of buyers. However, eventually, there will be a buyer for it. (Ask me why?)
  • A property in range of being struck regularly by poorly hit golf balls. Living in a home that is constantly being pelted by errant golf balls is too much an unsettling experience.

2) Laying Out a Large Initiation Fee to the Golf Club for an Unguaranteed Equity Membership not Designated to be Repaid in a Timely Manner I’ve often heard from sellers in golf communities who are struggling to fill out their projected membership quotas. They make comments like, “Maybe my heirs will get the equity refund”. Be sure to read the fine print in the membership documents. Here in southwest Florida, there are clubs that have a long waiting list for membership equity refunds. Many use a formula like one resigned membership gets repaid for every four that join. And, often the repayment is not a full 100 percent of the initiation equity fee. In other words, it can be a bad deal. So, ask me about this. Before buying, be sure to schedule a meeting with the Membership Director and/or Club General Manager. Ask questions about the club’s ownership and financial stability, membership goals, whether or not more members are resigning than joining, the stability of management and staff and about any long-term plans.

3) Buying a Home in a Golf Community that’s too Isolated from Beaches, Shopping, Restaurants, Theaters, Hospitals and other Amenities and Necessities It’s a real trade-off to commute an extra half hour into a newly developing golf community just to enjoy an extra 30 percent more home that a similar amount could buy in a more established golf community. You as the buyer, need to give this trade-off serious thought. Once the novelty of living in a golf community and visiting the Happy Hours, Club Dances, Karaoke Nights, Italian Buffet Nights and Card Nights comes to an end, you will leave the club gates for other adventures. And, when those adventures are a considerable drive away, the desire to stay in an area where there isn’t such inconvenience begin to emerge. This is when the fanfare of a “lifestyle” golf community will appear fickle and unfulfilling. This is especially true if one of the buyers isn’t an avid golfer or does not truly enjoy the game at all.

4) Buying into a Golf Community where the Residents are not a Good Social Fit Only you know the type of people you’ll enjoy as neighbors, as well as those you’ll interact with at the clubhouse daily. I highly recommend that you visit the clubhouse for lunch or dinner. And if possible, play a round of golf with a club member or two. I even recommend knocking on a prospective neighbor’s door to introduce yourself and ask a few questions about the community. This kind of interaction will help ensure your dream of “Living in Paradise” does not turn into a regrettable nightmare.

5) Buying into a Newly Opened Golf Community where the Developer doesn’t Offer a Completion of Amenities Guarantee In the mid 2000’s, when the real estate bust unfolded, many home buyers bought into newly opened communities. In many of these fledgling communities, the developer planned to add the first or more amenities as home sales progressed. So, financing for said amenities depended on home sales. But the unfortunate reality of no home sales, no amenities, took hold and resulted in very unhappy homeowners. You can imagine the nightmare conundrum for those homeowners. The market crashed so their homes were worth much less than their purchase price. Even if they could sell and absorb the loss, the stymied development kept any buyers from considering their homes at all. This created a hard double whammy for many poor owners.

6) Being Wowed by the Builder’s Model Home, Beautiful Clubhouse and Overpaying by not Consulting with a Realtor Proficient in Negotiations Many buyers think that they will get a better deal with the builder without a Realtor. The rationale being, if the builder doesn’t have to pay a real estate commission, then it’s more likely to receive buyer concessions during negotiations. This just might be true with a small unsophisticated builder. But, a large-scale, experienced builder knows very well Realtors are going to account for 60 to 70 percent of home sales. As a result, developers factor this into the overall home pricing. Builders simply don’t give any of this back to an unrepresented buyer because it’s already been factored into the averages and spread throughout the sales. So, there is no advantage to the buyer to purchase a home without a Realtor. Be aware, a Realtor proficient in new home sales can help you as the buyer understand which upgrades to include and which to exclude. Your Realtor can help you understand when and why some builders offer more discounts and incentives on some homes and not on others. Plus, tell you how to get certain discounts and incentives. And, your Realtor can offer advice on your future resale possibilities based on the home you are considering. A good Realtor also provides good follow up, progress reports and pictures of the home’s construction. What’s more, depending on the size and price of the home and commission, the Realtor may offer additional incentives and help with closing costs to the buyers. If you are considering buying a home from a builder, be sure to read my free report: “7 Secrets to Buying a Home from a Builder”.

7) Not Researching All of the Golf Communities which also Might be a Good Fit Understanding the golf community market takes years. Few Realtors have a thorough understanding of all of the communities available, the types of memberships communities offer and the styles of homes and pricing that are on the market. Working with a Golf Home Pro will put your mind at ease. You’ll receive the best possible information to make the right choice.

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Fine Properties logo

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Dennis Boyle, The Golf Home Pro



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