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Myrtle Beach Real Estate Market

GOLF

By Larry Gavrich, Founder & Editor,
Home On The Course, LLC


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With one of the most popular golf courses on the Grand Strand and an adjacent and stable waterfront community of homes, prospects for Tidewater Golf and Country Club in Little River, SC, appear solid and secure.


The Myrtle Beach real estate market was especially hard hit in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.  The savaging of most people’s retirement accounts caused vacationers to stop visiting for a week or two and retirees to stop coming for the rest of their lives.  Most of all, the Grand Strand’s strong orientation toward golf, one of life’s ultimate discretionary luxuries, produced a double whammy on the economy.  Buddy golf trips were put on hold, and more than a dozen golf courses closed beginning in 2007.  With more than 100 clubs still in operation today along just a 90-mile stretch up into North Carolina, some clubs are still nervous about their survival.  (You can see it in the green fee “deals” they are offering.)

But soft markets in otherwise solid and popular vacation and retirement destinations only last so long, and the lure of some of the best beaches on the east coast, dozens of good-to-great golf courses, and a climate that provides year round golf cannot escape the notice of baby boomers and vacationing families who crave golf and sand.  Myrtle Beach was always going to rise again, and it seems now may be the time.

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Litchfield Country Club in Litchfield Beach, SC, features more than a half dozen par 4 doglegs. The club is one of 22 owned by Founders International Group. Membership in the group's Prime Times program provides discounted green fees at its courses, just $33, cart included on one recent day at Litchfield.


For those who have been waiting to take the plunge until some vacation or retirement community markets stabilized, those with an eye on Myrtle Beach should consider diving in now.  The entire baby boomer generation has now passed the age of 50; history tells us that the early 50s is when people start seriously considering relocation.  Real estate logic tells us that increased demand pushes up prices.  That appears to be happening in the Myrtle Beach area.

My wife, Connie, and I returned in late July for a four-week vacation at the condominium we own in Pawleys Plantation just off Highway 17 in Pawleys Island, SC.  Pawleys Island claims to be America’s first beach resort, and while the claim might be up for debate, there is no debate about the quality of the three-mile stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean, a five-minute ride from our community’s front gate; or the quality of the dozen golf courses just 15 minutes from our condominium, including the most popular golf course of the 100 on the Grand Strand, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club. 

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Litchfield Country Club opened in 1966, one of the first in the golf-happy Myrtle Beach area. It was also one of the earliest organized golf communities in the Carolinas, following the 1960 opening of the first golf course on Hilton Head Island.


During our last visit in March, condominiums for sale in Pawleys Plantation were listed from $125,000; in August, I could not find one for sale below $205,000, and fewer were on the market than earlier this year.  The construction of homes on the relatively few available homesites in Pawleys Plantation had dried up beginning in 2007, but during a drive through the community recently, I noted construction workers hammering away on three new homes.  Also, the last multi-acre plot of land in Pawleys Plantation – a beside the 18th fairway of the Jack Nicklaus golf course – was sold recently to a local developer who is planning to build a half dozen homes among some impressive looking live oaks and pines.  That appears to be a strong vote of confidence in Pawleys Plantation and the south of Myrtle Beach market in general.  As another indication of builder confidence in the market, the respected national builder Lennar has developed a one-street community just a mile south of our gate -- no amenities but virtually across the street from Founders Golf Club – and the sales agent I spoke with indicated most of the lot-and-home packages have been sold in the first few months they were offered.  Prices start at $299,000 for nicely outfitted houses.  (We toured the model.)

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Condominium and single-family home prices are increasing and new homes are under construction in the 27 year old Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, located just a five-minute drive from one of the finest beaches in the Carolinas.


By most empirical measures, the Myrtle Beach market is on an impressive upswing.  According to the local Realtor’s association, the median price of Myrtle Beach single-family homes was up 5.3% between May and June this year, while the number of homes sold increased 6.3%.  Although condominium prices from May to June and year over year were down slightly across the Grand Strand, individual sales of condominiums increased more than 15% from June 2015 to June 2016.  Condominiums are the most popular style of vacation home in Myrtle Beach, and it is reasonable to assume that prices won’t lag the pent-up demand for vacation homes much longer.

I work with couples looking primarily for golf community homes, but in an area like Myrtle Beach, a home within a gated golf community – generally more expensive than a home in a community without that amenity – may not be necessary for any but a country-club oriented couple.  (Note:  Just three of the 100 Grand Strand golf clubs are strictly private.)

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The Willbrook Plantation golf course in Litchfield Beach is owned by Founders International Group. Only 10 homes are currently for sale in the surrounding community, a sign that sales are strong and inventory lower than typical.


A membership known as Prime Times offered by Founders International Group costs just $225 and provides access to Founders’ 22 golf courses; I played Litchfield Country Club near Pawleys Island in early August at a rate of just $33, cart included.  The Myrtle Beach Golf Passport provides access to more than 80 area courses, also at significantly discounted green fees.  The Passport costs just $49 annually.

Those who play golf infrequently but still want their money’s worth can choose a round at a complex like The Legends Resort off Highway 501, the main east/west road leading to the beach.  The Legends features three excellent golf courses of different character; their names – Heathland, Moorland, Parkland – reflect their character. Despite the quality of the layouts, what really gets vacationing golfers’ attention is what comes with the reasonable green fee: breakfast, lunch and two post round beers (or soft drinks, if you prefer).  Recent green fees were priced at $68, cart and the extras included.  For vacation homeowners, especially those who visit during the off-peak winter season when the golf courses are playable and lightly trafficked, membership may be as relevant as a fitness center for a couch potato