Interest in golf real estate surging since onset of Covid-19
Published Date: January 6, 2023
No matter how you run the numbers, 2020 was a record-breaking year for real estate, and the housing market shows no signs of slowing in 2021. Buyer demand hasn’t been limited to primary home purchases — demand for second homes skyrocketed, rising 100% year-over-year in October 2020. One specialized market experiencing a similar trend is golf course real estate. For second home buyers seeking community amenities and a view of the green, these homes offer a desirable option for seasonal living. Jason Becker, CEO of Golf Life Navigators, works with buyers who are looking for their perfect golf club home, and he said golf communities across the country saw increasing demand alongside rising prices for both homes and memberships throughout 2020. In an interview with Golf Week, he observed, “All in all, the golf real estate component is certainly on fire, and I don’t see any signs of that stopping or slowing down.”
Why golf real estate surged in 2020
Why the sudden interest in the golf market? Like so many recent trends, Covid-19 appears to play a role. Early in the pandemic, as the economy came to a halt, golf real estate owners and investors expected their industry to take a hit. They imagined a repeat of the Great Recession of 2008, when many people eliminated luxury expenses, and golf enthusiasts canceled memberships in droves. Remembering that outcome, the industry took steps to demonstrate their value to members, and that approach appears to have succeeded. In addition to retaining current members, clubs have seen the number of current and prospective members who want to become residents of golf communities jump 19 percentage points since Covid-19 began. Previously, 58% of members wanted to live outside the community, and now that number has flipped, with 61% wanting to live inside. Becker attributes that shift, at least in part, to the pandemic — he believes the sense of safety and security that comes with living in a contained community is a big draw for residents, and a boon for golf course real estate. Clubs have adapted well, making it convenient for residents to get what they need without having to leave the community. Members, for example, can simply drive their golf cart to pick up a meal from the club restaurant and take it back home.
Golf communities foresee a long-term shift to club living
Will the interest in community living persist in a post-pandemic world? Becker thinks so, based on what he’s hearing from clients. Much like other second home buyers, the ability to work remotely has changed the perspective of those considering golf real estate, and Becker has seen a shift in demographics among prospective buyers. Once considered a haven for retirees, golf communities are now attracting more residents in their 40s and 50s who are still working and can now work from home. This trend is evident in buyer preference data, with 67% of buyers in golf communities saying they want a home office space. Becker believes the overall strength of the second home market has helped golf real estate. In his region of Southwest Florida, where second homes dominate the market, he sees a lot of people from large Northeast cities looking for second homes. Pre-pandemic, they were more likely to buy a smaller property, like a condo, but with low interest rates and the desire for extra space, a single-family home now has greater appeal — consistent with trends of urban dwellers buying larger suburban homes. Golf real estate offers the space and amenities many of these buyers are seeking, and the market is booming. Becker is seeing buyers make offers sight-unseen, and golf homes are selling quickly. This demand has enabled clubs to increase initiation fees, in stark contrast to the industry’s early pandemic concerns that clubs would need to cut prices or offer incentives to attract members and buyers.
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