This post was originally published on nytimes.com
Article By Shivani Vora | The New York Times
After several years of falling out of favor, golf homes are once again in high demand.
According to Sotheby’s International Realty 2021 Luxury Outlook report, the pandemic has renewed interest in owning a golf home: sothebysrealty.com saw a 26 percent increase in golf property searches globally from January 2020 to February 2021, compared with the same period in 2019. Sales have also increased, says Philip A. White Jr., president of Sotheby’s International Realty and an avid golfer. “2020 was the year that golf homes became hot commodities,” he says.
Golf homes became less popular before the pandemic because interest in the game had slowed and the market was oversaturated with golf properties, according to Doug Treadwell, the owner of Golf Life Properties, which sells golf homes in the United States to international buyers. The pattern reversed, he said, over the last year.
Mr. Treadwell said that Golf Life Properties sold around $85 million in properties last year; in 2019, that number was $40 million. “Following five plus years of flat or declining sales, we did a 180,” he said. “Golf properties offer privacy and security, which is what home buyers want right now.”
But rather than seek out established golf markets such as Naples, Fla., and Portugal’s Algarve region, buyers today are looking to emerging areas around the world with better values and fewer crowds.
Here are five up-and-coming spots:
About three hours southeast of Portland by car in central Oregon, the city of Bend has more than 30 golf courses within a 60-minute drive, including the prestigious Jack Nicklaus signature course at Pronghorn Resort.
Several data points indicate that the area has become a highly desirable place to own a golf home in the wake of the pandemic: on sothebysrealty.com, searches for golf homes in Bend increased 71 percent from January 2020 to February 2021, while sales were up 53 percent. Cascade Lifestyle Group, part of Coldwell Banker Bain, saw $39 million of sales in Bend in 2020, compared with around $30 million the year before. “Our group has been inundated with buyers from Seattle, California, and even the U.K. ever since Covid,” said Catherine Scanland, a broker at Cascade Lifestyle Group.
Many of the golf courses in the region are within luxury, amenity-rich communities, she said, where the average price of a home is around $1.5 million. Tetherow Resort and Golf Course and Crosswater Club are examples.
Surrounded by the Cascade Range and dotted with lakes, Bend and the countryside around it are appealing to home buyers because of the sunny days and good weather for golfing most of the year. Outdoor enthusiasts also can enjoy other pursuits, such as skiing in winter and paddle-boarding, fly fishing and hiking when the weather is warmer.
Loire Valley, France
France isn’t known for golf, but the Loire Valley is fast changing that, said Mr. White, of Sotheby’s International Realty. A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Paris, the region was where French royalty summered in their castles and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beauty and cultural landscape.
There are 15 courses in Loire, said Grégory Thouzé, an agent with Bretagne Sud Sotheby’s International Realty, in France, and many are near golf estates or within communities.
Golf International Barriere La Baule, with three courses spanning 540 acres, a driving range and a putting green, is the largest. Another option is Les Bordes Golf Club, which has two courses and is expected to open a third in July designed by the American golf course architect Gil Hanse; all are surrounded by forests.
The club introduced real estate in 2020 with 48 homes ranging in size from two to seven bedrooms and with prices starting at around $1 million; 48 more residences will debut this fall. A spokeswoman for the property, Kerry McClinton-King, said that most buyers were from Britain, the Netherlands and the United States.
The Loire is an attractive area to own a golf home, said Mr. White, because of its proximity to Paris and the availability of diversions beyond golf. “You have a lot of history and great wine country,” he said.
Located in Central Europe, Slovakia is among the hottest emerging destinations for golf in the world, according to Michael Valdes, the president of eXp Realty. “With its strong infrastructure and beautiful, mountainous landscape, the country is designed for great golf and with that, comes the burgeoning popularity of golf homes,” he said.
Slovakia has 28 courses, said Ivan Micko, the publisher and editor in chief of the Slovakia golf lifestyle magazine Golf Revue, and several have a real estate component. Penati Golf Resort, for example, which is surrounded by pine forests and lakes, is in a village with contemporary golf homes. Then, about a 30-minute drive from the capital city of Bratislava, there’s Green Resort Hrubá Borša with more than 250 new homes.
One of the courses that gets the most international attention is the 27-hole Black Stork, situated at the foothills of the Tatra Mountains in Vel’ká Lomnica, a village with more than 50 parcels of land where golf homes are being built.
Mr. Micko said that most golf property buyers in Slovakia were either locals or from Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Cape Winelands, South Africa
Popular with tourists for its wineries and thriving culinary scene, South Africa’s Cape Winelands region, around 45 minutes east of Cape Town, is lately also becoming known as a prime golf destination as well.
Maria De Villiers, the owner of Chas Everitt Winelands, a brokerage that sells real estate in the area, said that there are five high-end golf estates here including Devonvale Golf Estate, outside Stellenbosch, and Boschenmeer Golf Estate, in Paarl.
On top of world-class golf, all offer an array of amenities such as swimming pools, restaurants, gyms, a lineup of fitness classes and meeting rooms. “You have amenities equivalent to a luxury resort, but these estates are very spread out, so you get a rural feel,” Ms. De Villiers said.
De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate, in Stellenbosch, for one, has a course designed by the renowned Zimbabwean golf architect Peter Matkovich and offers mountain biking, running trails and three restaurants. The development is set on a working farm with olive groves, nearly 300 acres of vineyards and a wetlands area with wildlife including birds and fish.
The Winelands see a growing number of international golf home buyers, according to Ms. De Villiers. “They come from Europe and spend their winter, which is our summer, working remotely,” she said.
Real estate in South Africa is inexpensive for these homeowners, compared with prices in Europe. For $500,000, Ms. De Villiers said that prospective buyers can find a 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom property — possibly with a pool — in a luxury estate.
The Nashville area is seeing a steadily growing market for golf properties, according to Mr. White, and has two well-established luxury golf communities: the Governors Club, with an Arnold Palmer signature course, and the Grove, an 1,100-acre development with a Greg Norman signature course.
Both communities have a lengthy list of amenities, including fitness centers, spas, pools and restaurants, and are increasingly drawing in buyers from out-of-state who want to own a golf property in Tennessee because it has no state income tax. Many of the latest buyers are from California.
“Nashville specifically is appealing because you have such a great restaurant and music scene,” Mr. White said. “And in addition to golf, there is great horseback riding.” With its vast countryside to accommodate scenic, spread out courses and temperate climate most of the year, Nashville is also an ideal locale for golf.
The value for the money adds to the appeal. Mr. White said that buyers could find a luxury home for a significantly lower price than they would for a comparable property in a more popular golf spot such as Palm Beach, Fla.
The latest addition to the area’s golf lineup is Discovery Land Company’s Troubadour Golf & Field Club, an 860-acre estate about a half-hour from downtown Nashville with a Tom Fazio-designed course and sites for 369 homes. Amenities include fishing and kayaking, horseback riding, a game room and craft studio for children and a recording studio.