There Are No Mulligans:
Tips to Successful Home Buying in a Golf Course Community
The secret is out. Golfers from around the world are discovering what the locals have always known: golf is terrific in Southwest Florida.
When winter temperatures up north dip into single digits, more and more golfers migrate south to the warmth of the Gulf Coast. And each year, more and more of our visitors contact me to help them find a home in a Southwest Florida golf course community.
It can be intimidating knowing how and where to begin looking for that ideal “fairway lie.” After all, there are more than 85 exclusive golf course communities in Collier and Lee counties alone. Where do you begin when buying in a golf course community?
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Know your Reason for Buying
There are many reasons to buy in a golf course community. Whether you’re an avid or occasional golfer, looking for investment property or simply a home with great views and resale potential, knowing your motivation will help narrow the field.
Know the Type of Golf Membership you Want
Different communities offer different types of golf memberships. To find one that fits your needs, ask yourself what kind of golf you like to play and be honest!
- Traditional equity membership: An avid or low-handicapper who wants to play 4-7 times per week in season, and who wants preferred tee times, will generally prefer a traditional equity membership. Usually, these courses have a low number of members per 18 holes as well as a refundable deposit/initiation fee, usually in the $50,000 – $150,000 range. Several of these communities offer more than 18 holes of golf. The term equity refers to the portion of the initiation fee returned to you should you terminate your membership.
- Bundled membership: The recreational golfer who only plays 2-3 times per week in season and doesn’t mind flexible tee times, may prefer a bundled golf membership. Here, the full family membership (husband, wife and children under age 22) is “bundled with” or included with the home purchase. While there is a higher ratio of members per 18 holes, there is no deposit/initiation fee and the annual dues, which include all greens fees, are nominal. Members pay cart fees only. This type of membership is quite popular among investors.
Know the Style of Home you Want
Most of the golf communities offer a variety of home styles: Estate homes, detached villas, attached villas, coach/carriage homes or condominiums. What’s the difference?
- Estate Homes: Generally, these are large, custom-built single-family homes on spacious lots.
Detached Villas: These are slightly smaller single-family homes on narrower lots. Frequently, lawn maintenance is included in the homeowner association dues.
- Attached Villas: Sometimes referred to as a duplex, these are side-by-side villas, which share a common wall. Because no one lives above or below you, it lives like a detached villa. Lawn maintenance is generally included in the homeowner association dues.
- Coach/Carriage Home: Refers to spacious multi-family dwellings, often four units per building, two up and two down. Coach or carriage homes have one or two-car garages, which are generally attached. With this style of home, someone would be living above or below you.
- Condominiums: Generally refers to the most affordable type of ownership, with more than four units per building. If a condominium building has more than two floors, it will have an elevator. Many condominiums will have a carport rather than a garage.
Know your Lifestyle Amenities
What amenities besides golf interest you? Golf communities offer a wide assortment, including:
- Lighted tennis courts
- Olympic-sized, heated swimming pools
- Exercise and fitness centers
- Spas with fitness training, massage, etc.
- Fine and casual dining
- Beach clubs
- Social activities