Things to Consider Before Purchasing Your Home on the Links

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

PHOENIX, AZ- Just like the game itself, there is more to buying golf course real estate than meets the eye.

For those who have dreamed of owning a home, villa, or condo along one of Arizona's lush green fairways, heed this warning: according to industry experts, there are a number of do's and don'ts when it comes to procuring your little piece of paradise.

"I call attention to certain things when I am showing people golf course real estate," says Tucson-based real estate agent Carl Peppers. "If you are at a tee box people are chatting and it can get noisy on the weekends. Also, during the inspection period, we look closely for signs of whether the house or the yard is getting hit by golf balls."

Most golf course homes built in Arizona and Florida over the past 10 years are constructed with stucco, and are particularly susceptible to damage from golf balls. Unfortunately, the majority of affordable golf course developments in the southwest do not feature custom home options, and buyers are limited in the construction materials they can choose from.

Local Real Estate agents also concur that orientation is a major consideration when purchasing a golf course home in the torrid climes of southern Arizona. Those searching for a year-around residence should stay away from homes with western orientations due the heat from the summer sun. Snowbirds and other seasonal residents, however, may actually seek out western orientations that warm the house in the winter and provide excellent views of mountain sunsets.

"There are a whole bunch of things to consider that people don't even think about," says Chris Smith of Tucson and Scottsdale Golf Vacations, and a former assistant golf professional at Vistoso Golf Club in Tucson.

Smith says that safety is only half the battle.

"One of the biggest issues is privacy," Smith says. "You want to be able to enjoy yourself in your backyard. Properties that sit above the fairway, like at Ventana (Resort), are incredible and private."

In fact, there is a veritable laundry list of things for potential buyers to contemplate when considering the purchse of a golf course residence:

Golf Carts

These necessary evils come in two varieties, gas and electric. Purchase a home on a course that uses the former and you could spend endless days listening to the obnoxious hum of these bad boys. Also, Smith says check on the cart path rules. If a course is cart path only year-around, then golfers will spend a lot of time in proximity to your digs.

Homeowners Associations

Hey, if you live along the fairway, you can always just put up some netting, right? Wrong! Most golf course communities in Arizona have homeowners associations, and most HA's exclude nets from backyards.

THE Ratio

How much does it cost for a round of golf at the course you are thinking about buying on? How much is the house you are looking at buying? Smith says there should be a logical ratio between the two.

For example, if it is a daily fee course and a round of golf is going for $25 in the winter and the house is selling for over $200,000, the property value is probably inflated. If the course is private, check on the initiation and monthly fees for the course versus the price of the home.

Where's my yard?

Many prospective golf course homebuyers are enamored with the idea that the golf course will be a natural extension of their backyard. Smith says this is one of the biggest fallacies, and developers know it.

Many builders will shave yardage off of backyards to save room for the golf course. So when you go to put that much-needed pool in the ground, you might be out of luck. Also, if you're having a home built, check to see if a wall will be required. Florida and especially Arizona are known for their walled communities.

And there's always location, location, location ...

Dick Schaefer, vice president of sales and marketing at Troon Golf Vacations in Scottsdale, says that property values along a course typically vary with location. Homes located on the tee box or the greens are typically the highest priced, and homes along the fairways are usually less expensive.

But Schaefer says prospective buyers should go a step further in their analysis.

"Let's assume these people are golfers, so all you have to do is think about your own game for a second," Schaefer says. "I would not want to be on the right side of a par 4 about 180 yards down. You will get pelted with balls all day.

"I would prefer to live on the left side of a par 3, but left side of a par 4 or 5 about 20 yards out of most golfers driving range is also ideal. Then you can come out in the evening and fire 100 yard wedge shots into the green."

Schaefer adds that in new developments or projects under construction, prospective buyers should pay close attention to the build out plan.

"Some people assume that the value of their home on the golf course will always go up, but that is not always the case," he says. "If a course gets overbuilt, and golfers don't like it anymore, then intrinsically, the value of the property goes down."

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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