By JIM PARKER || The Post and Courier
In the residential real estate trade, agents typically strive to marry buyers to “right fit” homes by price, looks, size, age and schools, rather than taking them straight to places in which shoppers can gratify their hobbies or passions. But there are exceptions.
Chris Calabrese, co-owner and broker-in-charge at Gatehouse Realty, acknowledges he caddies golf fans a little differently than other clients. “My specialty, if someone’s a serious golfer, I try to match them to a course” and only then a house, says Calabrese, former pro at Coosaw Creek Country Club and golf committee president at Rivertowne Country Club.
This may be a case of a Realtor dealing with a hyper-specific type of buyer, the golfing fanatic. But Charleston area real estate associates agree that golf courses play an over-sized role in attracting home buyers — whether or not they play the sport.
The Charleston area offers more than 30 golf courses with a range of designs and locales: resorts, gated villages, down home neighborhoods and upper crust developments. The public can play most Lowcountry layouts, even such famed courses at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, although the per-person cost can run anywhere from $20 without a cart to $200 or more. A few are membership only. Most local courses are built within a neighborhood or are close to residential real estate.
Golf communities tend to also provide amenities that aren’t directly tied to the sport itself: The manicured courses are lush and forested and marshy, clubhouses can be fancy places with dining and parties, ponds can hold everything from stocked fish to alligators and high-end homes and lots offer brilliant views whether next to the course or blocks away.
“That’s the beauty of Stono Ferry,” says Bud Poston, Realtor with Century 21 Properties Plus who’s sold real estate in the upscale Hollywood community anchored by The Links at Stono Ferry golf course for 13 years. “Either you can be on the course or the marsh, you’re close enough,” he says. “Some people enjoy not being on the course,” says Poston, noting they can avoid putting up with errant shots and noisy players.
Stono Ferry showcases perks in addition to golf such as a clubhouse, equestrian center, steeplechase track, swimming complex and views of the deep water Stono River. Two riverfront homes sold this year for $1.2 million and for $1.7 million respectively and three more are listed in seven figures, Poston says.
Golf communities such as Stono Ferry have benefited from the Charleston area’s surging real estate market. Since the first of the year, 16 single family homes and one town home have sold in the community, on pace for surpassing a strong 2014.
Poston and fellow Century 21 associate Rob Sturm are listing agents for local company New Leaf Builders, which constructed three homes on the course that sold from $420,000 to $495,000 and is building three larger houses priced from $449,000 to $550,000. All told, 22 homes are on the market, Poston says, and new-homes builder Crescent Homes is installing the infrastructure for seven houses.
There were slow times in the home sales arena not so long ago, Poston concedes, quipping that he was “ready to sell insurance” at a few points. “I think last year was a good year. I think this year (could) set a record in recent memory.”
Most neighborhoods in the Charleston area with golf courses aren’t strictly country clubs but are more like large neighborhoods with courses such as Shadowmoss, Pine Forest, Charleston National and Wescott Plantation; resorts or resort-like areas such as Kiawah and Seabrook islands and Wild Dunes; or public layouts with little adjacent real estate such as Charleston Municipal Golf Course on James Island and Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant.
“Probably the two (most active) country club” communities in the Charleston area are Dunes West and Daniel Island’s “Park” region north of Interstate 526, says Jim Grady, Realtor at Coldwell Banker United who’s listing a house a block from the Dunes West course at 3379 Shagbark Circle. Even with the golf appeal, courses themselves don’t draw in home buyers except “the over 50 (years old) crowd,” he says. But individuals, couples and families will join a country club for all the ancillary benefits including a clubhouse and maybe tennis courts and swimming, Grady says.
Golf’s up and down popularity can be traced to availability, Calabrese says. Many golfers take up the game as youngsters, in college or young adulthood but no longer can carve out the time to play when they’re building a career and raising a family. Then as they become empty nesters again, they rekindle their interest in golf.
“When I play, a lot of golfers are younger than me,” says Calabrese, 35, and with no children, “or they’re older. Not much in between.”
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.