By Celeste M. Smucker –
If you love golf you will love Charlottesville where you can enjoy spectacular views while playing your favorite sport. In the heat of the summer, Devil’s Knob, a private mountain course and part of the Wintergreen Resort, is a great choice with its panoramic views and temperatures often 15 degrees cooler than in the valley. When skiers take over the mountain, keep enjoying your game at Wintergreen’s public course at Stoney Creek open year round.
The course at Old Trail in Crozet, with activities for golfers of all ages, is another popular choice as are those on the east side of town such as Glenmore, Keswick Estate, Spring Creek and Lake Monticello. Each course offers something a little different in the way of benefits and challenges with variations in scenery, topography and features such as forests and wetlands.
The other good news is, when you buy a home in a golf community you can enjoy many of this sport’s benefits whether or not you actually play the game. Studies show home values are often higher in these communities, and there may be a substantial additional premium attached to lots located right on the golf course. In addition, all residents can enjoy the expansive green spaces along with amenities such as tennis courts, pools, walking trails and fitness centers that are usually part of the package.
Golf’s Hot Real Estate Market
Golf communities are thriving in today’s real estate market as evidenced by numbers of sales and fewer days on the market.
Tom Pace with Long & Foster Real Estate described the market at Keswick’s Glenmore as “very active,” with 26 homes going under contract, a number that is “substantially higher than last year.” He attributes this in part to our mild winter and in part to fence sitters finally taking action hoping to lock in today’s low interest rates.
Glenmore’s golf course is a big part of why buyers like this gated community. The buyers represent all age groups from young families to retirees, and all are choosing to join the neighborhood’s family friendly Country Club, Pace said. The Club includes an 18-hole Championship Golf Course, but is also the focus of an active social life offering lots of ways for members to meet their neighbors and make new friends. The many active children’s programs “get kids out of the house and away from video games,” Pace said.
The market is also active at the gated community of Spring Creek at Zion Crossroads, where builders are enjoying a very busy year “with decorated model homes for our guest to preview,” said Dan Girouard, Broker with Spring Creek Realty. He added that resale inventories are at an all-time low and average days on market are lower than they were during the spring.
Spring Creek’s golf course has received numerous accolades including being rated at #55 on Golf Digest’s 2015-16 list of America’s 100 greatest public courses. While golf is a big attraction, the Club is also a center for community activities like a fishing day for kids, 4th of July fireworks and a Party on the Patio on Friday nights during the summer, says Club General Manager Corky Bishop, who believes that an important part of his job is getting the community involved in events there.
The Wintergreen market is also lively, boasting over 60 homes sold in the last six months. Brian Chase with Wintergreen Resort Premier Properties encourages golfers to check out Devils Knob, the highest course in Virginia with “amazing views.” Devils Knob’s private 18-hole course is open to property owners and their guests, or to guests of the Wintergreen resort.
Another popular course is the one at Old Trail in Crozet, which offers a walkable, golf lifestyle that attracts visitors who eventually buy homes there, significantly impacting the real estate market. Local golf pro Kandi Comer believes part of the attraction of living in a golf community is being close to where you play. She gave the example of Old Trail’s retirees who often prefer to stay in their neighborhood and enjoy walking or driving the short distance to the course.
The Club offers a “sense of community,” Comer says and is a nice place to meet other people and enjoy a nice dinner close to home. And, she added, there are a “ton of activities,” there including golf instruction for all ages starting with very young children.
Recently named one of the Best Teachers in the State of Virginia by Golf Digest, Comer chose to locate her popular Golf Academy at Old Trail in part because it is a young community with lots of kids who eagerly await activities there including her summer golf camp, social events with hamburgers and hot dogs and movie nights during the winter months.
She also offers adult instruction and activities, sponsors social events and encourages non-golfers to give the game a try. Michael Guthrie, CEO and Principal Broker of Roy Wheeler Realty Co., believes that a golf pro like Comer attracts lots of new people who may then ultimately become Old Trail home owners.
Murdoch Matheson with Frank Hardy Sotheby’s International Realty is excited about Keswick Estate, the residential component of Keswick Hall and Golf Club that now has over 40 available building lots on two to four acres each. Buyers can choose their own architect and builder and the streamlined approval process makes the whole process “easy to do,” he continued.
The newly designed Pete Dye golf course, called Full Cry, is fun to play, Matheson added, and specifically designed to be challenging for all levels of players. It has received a number of awards making Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses list in 2016, and Golf Digest’s Best New Courses list in 2015. The community offers many other amenities such as hike, bike and walking trails, spa, pools, tennis and a fitness center to name just a few.
Best known for its luxury waterfront lifestyle, Lake Monticello also offers a well-known semi-private golf course. Several years ago it sustained damage due to extreme heat but has since been renovated, Guthrie said, and “is back in nice shape.”
Thanks to these renovations, the Faulconer Invitational Golf Tournament returned there after a brief hiatus due to the damage. Over the next several years the updated course should attract buyers, which in turn should promote appreciation in the property values when some of them decide to move in, Guthrie explained.
Golf Courses Add Value
Golf is a way to while away the time on a summer day with a good friend. It’s also a sport where people enjoy healthy competition by participating in tournaments to hone their skills. For people who play regularly, a neighborhood course is a huge convenience, but it also adds value for non-golfers who love the open, green areas, the nice views and the well-manicured look and feel of their local course.
A well kept golf course will help maintain subdivision property values, benefitting everyone who lives there, Guthrie observed. He added that everyone in the community appreciates the additional common ground space of a golf course that allows for more and better views of the mountains compared to neighborhoods where similar views may be blocked by other houses.
Homeowners whose lots back up to the course are especially lucky as they can enjoy a relatively private, beautifully landscaped and maintained extension to their property without any additional work. They can also sit on the deck and enjoy watching others play the game, and when the course is closed, they can practice putts right on the green outside their back yard.
Golf course communities offer other delights as well. “You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the activities on the course and the changing scenery it provides,” said Marina Ringstrom with Long & Foster Real Estate. One of her favorite golf course sights is the giant fountains that come on at night when they turn on the watering system at Glenmore’s course. “The fountains put out big spinning plumes that are fun to watch,” she continued.
Royal gold, fine fescue is one of the attractions at the Keswick Golf Club’s recently redesigned course. A decorative grass, it grows two to three feet in height with a pretty texture and golden color and is used to break up areas between holes, said Golf Pro Eric McGraw adding that people enjoy watching its peaceful and beautiful wave.
The Keswick Club is also a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, which means it “must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management,” according to the press release announcing the Club’s recertification in 2016.
Keswick is one of 36 clubs in Virginia to meet Audubon’s high standards and one of two in our area, the other being UVA’s Birdwood Golf Club. Peter McDonough, Keswick’s General Manager, explained that he joined the program back in 2002 “because it was the right thing to do.” He believes “the responsibility falls on people that manage the land,” and that if you work with Mother Nature she provides.
One of the regular sites at Keswick Club is a bald eagle that golfers, visitors and home owners see often, Matheson said. Perhaps eagle sightings are Mother Nature’s way of signaling approval of the club’s environmental stewardship.
Golf Course Lots Bring a Premium
While there are many reasons to live in a home right on the golf course, does that translate into a higher price on your home?
“There is definitely a premium on golf course lots because there is no one behind you and you don’t have the maintenance,” Guthrie said. He did offer the advice that non-golfers should take a golfing friend with them when shopping for a home on the course. The golfers will recognize areas most likely to attract errant balls that could damage a home’s siding. He also cautioned that if you like quiet, you would be advised not to buy near a tee box where “laughing and talking are pretty much the norm.”
Golfers add an extra measure of demand for housing at Wintergreen that helps maintain property values there explained Bo Newell with Mountain Area Realty in Nellysford. He added that buyers should expect to pay more for a lot right on the course especially if it also comes with one of Wintergreen’s spectacular views.
How much more you pay depends on the situation. Bishop believes you should expect to pay twice as much for a golf course lot as you would for one elsewhere in Spring Creek. At Glenmore, Ringstrom suggests that a golf course location could add as much as $100,000 to a lot’s assessed value.
Something for Everyone
Our local golf communities offer an enviable lifestyle and housing options to meet every need including a variety of home styles and price ranges. Call your REALTOR® today to find the one that’s right for you.
Celeste Smucker is a writer, and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.