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Snooze, You Lose:

Prices Up, Inventories Low in Carolina Golf Communities


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



Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick, SC, offers two fine golf courses at rates that are among the lowest of similar quality layouts in golf communities of the Southeast.
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich

As Yogi Berra might say about the Southeast real estate scene today, “It is déjà vu all over again.”  Increasing prices for developed community homes and lower-than-typical inventories are injecting a bit of urgency into the plans of recent retirees, and those who are soon to retire, about moving to the Carolinas and points south.  It is like the early 2000s all over again.

Numbers don’t lie, and the latest migration data indicates baby boomers are on the move again. 








According to the annual United Van Lines National Movers study, more than 22% of those who moved to the Southern states did so for retirement purposes.  (Twice as many moved for a job.)  Of the moves to and from North and South Carolina, almost 60% of moves in South Carolina were inbound and 57% in North Carolina were inbound. 






The Carolinas ranked 6th and 8th, respectively, of the top 10 inbound migration states.  Vermont had the highest percentage (very small denominator) of inbound migration, and New Jersey had the highest rate of outbound migration (large denominator).




The clubhouse behind the 18th green at Pawleys Plantation was once the only structure you saw as you made your way down the fairway. Now homes are going up in the woods to the right of the fairway.
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich

According to research conducted by, 63% of all those moving to the Carolinas last year were in the Over 50s age category. 

I saw visible signs of this market reinvigoration during a recent stay at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, just south of Myrtle Beach.  After more than a decade of stalled new home construction and an oversupply of resale homes, local real estate agents are now hustling to serve prospective resident visits.  Sales have been brisk over the last year, the result of consumer confidence and a generally positive, though somewhat turbulent, stock market.  The renewed buying activity has dried up inventories of homes for sale; and only recently have developers, who were bruised during the recession, started building new homes again.

One good example of new home activity:  A tract of land encompassing 30 residential lots along the 18th fairway at the Jack Nicklaus designed Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, the last remaining group of home sites in the 30-year old community.  Bill Clarke Homes purchased the land a few years ago and built a three-bedroom model beside the 18th green a year and a half ago; currently, five homes are either on hold for customers or pending sale.  Prices start at $434,000. Barring an economic catastrophe, all 30 homes could be spoken for in the next couple of years.





An explosion of activity at Savannah Lakes Village (SLV) near the historic town of McCormick, on South Carolina’s Fresh Water Coast™, provides another bit of evidence of increased migration South by Boomers.  Savannah Lakes, beside Lake Thurmond, is in a rural community appealing mostly to retirees looking for a quiet, reasonably priced, nature-based lifestyle.  After many years of slow but steady real estate sales, things are picking up.  As one resident wrote me recently, “We have welcomed 145 new families in the last year and a half.  I can hardly get out of where I live because of the construction activity nearby. And, that all good news.”

SLV is among the best buys among mature, golf communites for retirees, with its two courses you can play without joining, its comparably lower priced homes, comparatively low homeowner association fees and its location on one of the South’s prettiest and cleanest lakes.  (Note:  Golfers who plan to play golf, say, three or more times per week, can join the two Savannah Lakes clubs and pay even less per round than the reasonable pay-as-you-go green fees.)




With two highly rated golf courses and a location just 20 minutes from Charleston, SC, the community of Daniel Island is highly prized for families and retirees.
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich

Of course, as happens in life, one hand giveth, the other taketh away, and what you might miss at SLV is proximity to services you may have taken for granted in your pre-retirement home.  McCormick is about an hour from what most of us would define as a “city,” in this case Greenville, and local supermarkets (only one, eight miles away), hospitals and restaurants require planning and as long as one hour round-trips by car.  Still, couples who think that, after hectic commuting schedules and child raising, they deserve some peace and quiet, will find it in spades at Savannah Lakes, which is also large enough -– 2,400 residents -- to offer plenty of reasons to stay inside its boundaries.

One sure sign that developer confidence in the market has been re-ignited is the flurry of “spec” homes you can tour.  On Daniel Island, near Charleston, SC, home to two highly regarded golf courses by Tom Fazio and Rees Jones, a couple of those spec homes have been listed in the Daniel Island Park section by Cline Homes at $1 million plus.  It’s obvious developers are confident that, even at the high end, the market is there.

Other golf communities in the Carolinas also are seeing a pickup in new residents and new construction.  I have written extensively about many of them here at and at my blog site,  They include:  Dataw Island, neat Beaufort in St. Helena, SC; Woodside Plantation in Aiken, SC; Albemarle Plantation in Hertford, NC; Haig Point on Daufuskie Island, SC; St. James Plantation in Southport, NC; Carolina Colours in New Bern, NC; Compass Pointe in Leland, NC; and Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach and, Waterways, in Savannah.

For more lifestyle information about any of these communities or about Savannah Lakes Village, please contact me at  I do not charge a fee for my advice or for my assistance in helping you to find your dream golf home.


Spring in the Carolinas is full of surprises -– sudden April showers which can, just as suddenly, transition to sunny and warm; exotic, flowers you could swear you’ve never seen before; and the winner of the RBC Heritage PGA tournament at the famed Harbour Town Links on Hilton Head Island.  Ever heard of Satoshi Kodaira?  Neither had I, but last year he beat Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and dozens of other top tour stars to win the coveted red plaid jacket and hoist the unusual trophy of Sir William Innes, an 18th Century Scottish golfer.  Oh yes, and the check to the RBC Heritage winner is a whopping $1.2 million.

Will this year’s winner be a surprise?  Find out by planning to attend one of the most iconic settings in golf.  For tickets and hospitality details, go to


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