This article is part of our latest special report on International Golf Homes, which covers some of the best places to live and play.
If you are considering buying a golf home but are unsure what type of destination or community would be most appealing to you, partial ownership, also known as residential clubs, could be an ideal option.
Partial ownership means buyers invest in some of the home’s equity and have a stake in the property, explained Jason Becker, executive director of golf real estate matchmaking site Golf Life Navigators. Many ownership interests are part of developments or resorts; The number of weeks buyers can spend in their property annually depends on what percentage they own.
“Buying a golf house is a big decision,” said Becker. “With partial ownership in or near a golf-rich market, you have the opportunity to experience a potential travel destination or community with no long-term financial commitments.”
Below are the key questions about fractional ownership and how to find the best community for you.
Is Partial Ownership Right For You?
Buyers considering partial ownership of golf communities should consider how often they travel and the role sports play in their free time, said Greg Spencer, CEO of Timbers Resorts, a boutique developer of hotels and resort communities worldwide. “If you can envision your family returning to one place several times a year, playing a few rounds of golf with each visit, a golf community with a private residence club could be for you.”
Conversely, Spencer said, buyers looking for a summer home or year-round living are likely better off buying a property that is entirely their own.
Owning a private residence club is also better suited for buyers who don’t want to bother or save the expense of managing a vacation home, but still want a spot on or near the golf course, even partially.
Would you have access to a golf course?
According to Mr. Becker, many clubs are private or only for those who fully own their real estate. So ask if you can play as a partial owner. Follow-up questions: If so, are you limited to a limited number of start times or are you only allowed to play on certain days or at certain times? Do you have to pay guest fees? Can you use amenities like the practice area?
Are you becoming a non-resident member?
If you can find a fractional ownership that is not part of a community, ask if the golf courses in the area have membership programs for non-residents. Also, ask how many non-resident members there are in the club. If there are only a handful, Becker said, one could feel like an outsider at social gatherings or every club visit.
What about other amenities?
Partial home buyers who are avid golfers may want to consider properties that offer non-golf amenities that their non-golfing family members can enjoy, said Mr. Spencer. Examples include tennis, water sports like kayaking, kids’ clubs, and cycling. “The wider the range of activities, the more you will get out of your partial ownership,” he said.
What type of real estate agent are you looking for?
Get someone who understands the partial ownership model, especially because it’s not a traditional purchase. And that applies twice to golf properties. Mr. Becker suggested finding a golf certified real estate agent to assist you in your search. You can find one online, or you can go to a local golf club or course and ask for a recommendation.
Should I rent before buying?
Throughout the private club industry, there are communities known as “pooled communities” where golf membership is associated with home buying. Becker said that bundled homeowners often rented their properties for a few months each year.
“Because tenants become members for the entire rental period, you can get an idea of the club and the culture before investing in partial ownership,” he said. “There is less risk financially if you decide you don’t like the community or area.”