South Florida golf club communities have many factors that make them successful: Chamber of Commerce weather which allows residents to practice the sport virtually every day, Hall of Fame architects who want to live in the community and work on site. Add in an abundance of land and resources that can be sculpted into your own city.
Add another undreamed-of benefit: a bubble during the coronavirus pandemic.
While COVID-19 has changed the way we live, it has undoubtedly had an impact on an industry that has had problems for the past decade.
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The numbers speak for themselves.
“May was our best month ever in home sales and membership sales, and June is going to be even better,” said John Jorritsma, director of sales and marketing for The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach. “We made a sale every other day on average over the past year.”
This doesn’t just apply to The Club at Ibis, a community of 1,840 people on Northlake Boulevard. This is the case in practically every golf club community in South Florida, large or small, on the water or inland.
“The real estate market in South Florida has been incredibly hot, probably hotter than ever,” said Matt Lambert, general manager of the Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens. “As difficult as COVID has been to deal with, the silver lining for residential country club neighborhoods is that it has been fantastic for business.”
As the South Floridians have noticed with all of the different license plates, most new buyers are not local. They’re usually from the northeast, some are so ready to move that they’ve bought homes without even visiting.
The pandemic forced many companies to close their offices and allow their employees to work remotely. If you wanted to live anywhere, where would you choose South Florida or South New Jersey?
“I keep hearing the same story, a slightly different version: ‘I was stuck at work at home last winter, cooped up inside and won’t do it again,” said Ann Jara, real estate director at The Club at Quail Ridge in Boynton Beach, which, like most large community realtors, is struggling to hold onto.
“Some are retired, some are not, some from the northeast. They have to be somewhere they can be out. Everyone wants to be here. “
Golf is one of the few sports that can be safely practiced during a pandemic. The sprawling nature of the sport creates social distancing, and the clubs have taken additional precautions such as:
Golf became more popular. The National Golf Foundation reported that rounds played in the US last August increased 20.6 percent compared to 2019. That’s 10 million more rounds, the biggest year-on-year increase in 20 years.
According to the report, it was even rosier in Florida, where the Sunshine State saw an increase of 37 percent. Only Texas (39 percent) had a bigger jump.
But it’s not just golfing. People want security. People want space. People want to be with others who share the same concerns.
“We have added many more outdoor amenities such as TopTracer, an outdoor gym and more outdoor seating in our restaurants,” said Jorritsma. “We have a food truck that drove into our communities to deliver ice cream and margaritas, we added a new outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven on the driving range, and we ate an average of 300 takeaway meals a day during COVID.”
Golf Life Navigators, a Naples-based company that helps home buyers find golf clubs, recently released a survey that showed interest in residential golf communities is growing. GLN said home purchases on the gates of a golf community increased 9 percent to 58 percent, and the marketplace of buyers combining the club and home search hit 78 percent.
“COVID may have affected consumer attitudes about their whereabouts, most likely due to the safety of the club and the controlled environment,” said Jason Becker of GLN.
Not only has the interest of local golf club communities increased, the demographic has also moved in a better direction: younger buyers. That speaks well for the future.
“When I moved here in 2003, Florida was all about the elderly and retirees,” says Lambert, who has been GM at Mirasol since 2003. “Now a lot of young families are moving here. They want to be in a place where their children can be outside 12 months of the year. “
While the effects of COVID-19 have subsided due to vaccinations and increased awareness, most don’t see the golf club community market cooling anytime soon. Demand remains strong and there are only so many apartments available.
“Living in Florida has many advantages,” said Jorritsma of Ibis. “The weather, no state income tax, and easy travel with multiple airport options. That will never change. “