Ah – livin’ the dream. You’re buying a house that backs onto a golf course. It’s so quiet. It’s beautifully-maintained green space. It’s super-convenient for those of us who love to golf. It all sounds absolutely fantastic. But is it too good to be true?
In this part of Ontario, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t agree that there are simply too many golf courses to meet the demand in the sport.
Let’s face it… it’s not an inexpensive activity to embrace! Lessons for proper form and years of practice are pretty much a given. It’s a gear-driven sport, where crappy equipment tends to yield crappy results… and the gear isn’t cheap. Memberships or green fees, and naturally the inevitable purchase (or two) from the cart-bar vendors… it all adds up to a pricey day.
Young people, for a wide range of reasons, are not venturing into the sport in droves. Small courses are struggling to make ends meet in many cases, and yet the land they are situated on is extremely valuable. The outcome isn’t particularly surprising.
As a buyer, what do you need to be considering? Well, in the past, purchasing a home on a golf course came with one major risk – having a window blown out by an errant golf ball (likely hit by someone like myself.) Now, we have a bigger-picture risk to consider: What happens if this golf course turns into a residential housing development.
The combination of struggling golf courses and increasing land values (and governmental pressure for infill,) is a challenging one for buyers of these properties. It’s one thing to pay a premium to back onto a putting green; it’s quite another to have that space under construction for years and/or filled up with cookie-cutter townhomes. That wasn’t the dream, right?
As a Buyer, these are the things you need to consider. What’s going on in that adjacent golf course? If it closed, would my home lose value? (The short answer is: yes.)
As a Seller, do you wait until the trend catches up to you – or do you make your move and sell while things are (beautifully) status quo and leave it to your Buyer to assume the risk that – someday – that pristine turf could turn in to a construction site.
It’s so important to work with a Realtor, on either side of this equation, who gets it. You may get caught up in the dream of golf-course living; but your Realtor should not be. They need to focus on the positives while also examining the potential downsides.
It’s also important to note that not all golf courses are suffering. Plenty of people – myself included – are besotted with the sport and happily contribute to its local economy. But, like any business, some thrive – some decline.
It’s also by no means a given that – even if a course wanted to sell to a residential developer – that the local community and powers-that-be would allow it. Development proposals have been successfully fought in Ontario on the basis that the golf course is historic and the natural habitats on it are critically important to our eco system. It’s not as simple as just flipping a switch and making a golf course into a condo development. Thankfully.
So, the way I see it, if you are selling or buying a home that backs onto a golf course in Ontario, there isn’t an easy answer to the question of, “Will it always be there?” What we have, I think, is not exclamation point, but a question mark. The only thing I can say for certain is that, whether you are on the Buying or the Selling side of things, you’d best work with a Realtor who doesn’t just see putting greens off in the distance.