When the novel coronavirus COVID-19 first emerged in the United States, it was unclear just how significant a role it would play in the national housing market. As weeks-long lockdowns stretched into months in many areas of the country, it soon became apparent that the “Great Outdoors” was now greater than ever, thanks to the relative difficulty the virus has spreading outside as long as individuals do not remain in close proximity to one another. Beaches teemed with stir-crazy vacation-goers and second-home markets thrived as more and more buyers stopped considering the purchase of a vacation home to be “discretionary” and began to classify the move as a necessity due to the (usually) greater square footage in these homes and travel restrictions that varied state by state.
“Buyers of these homes…are able to benefit from spending more time in them,” explained Forbes contributor Jeffrey Steele. The veteran real estate reporter noted that it was not only beachside properties that benefited from this trend; private golf clubs are now thriving as well.
“If someone had set out to invent a period, an age, a time ideally suited to the resurgence of private club communities, they couldn’t have done better than creating the COVID-19 era,” Steele observed. He credits the “secure, fully serviced environments” that private golf clubs offer with the resurgence in demand for homes in these communities.
“[Golf] was the last bastion of happiness left,” recalled Steve Ekovich, a senior managing director with Marcus & Millichap. “It went from the downtrodden, beat-up pastime to the darling of the sports world.”
Poetic excess aside, golf communities and golf real estate have been booming. Ekovich noted that many outdated golf course properties are prime targets for redevelopment thanks to the combination of white-hot housing markets, eager developers, and desperate homebuyers. “The [courses] that do become functionally obsolete – if you can build houses on them, it’s a massive boon for the owner and the community,” he explained.
However, the housing boom and tight inventory is likely to extend to golf course real estate as well, with many owners who had planned to sell early in 2020 decided to “hold on,” as Ekovich described it, because their incomes have risen so much since those first few months. “Clubs believe there is pent-up demand for events and banquets and that that business will come roaring back this year,” he said.
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