Home buyers on golf estates - consider levies and golf membership

With today’s emphasis on value for money, many aspiring home buyers at golf estates are understandably concerned about the costs of ownership over and above the actual purchase price, namely levies and, if applicable, golf memberships, says Richard Arderne, area principal in St Francis Bay for Pam Golding Properties.

“While it’s true that many residents of golf states may not necessarily be golfers, the long term viability of the estate and golf course is important to homeowners. In this regard St Francis Links, ranked 9th best golf course in South Africa, has opted for what is now accepted as the best golf estate structure: all property owners are automatically members of the golf club, thereby ensuring the financial viability of the entire estate. In fact only homeowners on the estate can be members of the golf club, although visitors can of course play on the golf course,” says Arderne.

“Research recently conducted shows that although this is a very prestigious residential golf estate, the St Francis Links levies are substantially lower than other top golf estates in the country – by some 50-100 percent. Furthermore, for regular golfers who want excellent security, St Francis Links is an affordable option. Currently approximately 50 percent of homeowners on this estate are golfers. Coupled with this, regular and affordable flights available via Port Elizabeth airport, just one hour’s drive from St Francis Links, making it easily accessible for those commuting on business.”

He says the levy structure at St Francis Links includes unlimited golf for the principal member and dependent children up to 21 years of age, for just R2500 per month. This levy naturally includes security, with only electricity, water and municipal rates being additional. Furthermore, municipal rates are reduced by 20 percent as the Links performs many of the municipal functions. Typical municipal rates are about R200-R300 per month for a vacant stand up to approximately R800 per month for a R3 million house. If desired, an additional membership including unlimited golf for the spouse is also available for only R3860 extra per annum.

“St Francis Links is fortunate to have had blue-chip developers – construction company, WBHO, who still play an important role in ensuring the financial stability of the estate, although the fact is it has been trading profitably for several years and has built up healthy financial reserves. WBHO have recently completed the heated swimming pool and gymnasium, which adds further appeal for residents, in addition to other leisure activity such as mountain biking and hiking, both within the estate and surrounds. There is also world class fishing, boating and surfing within 1km of the gatehouse,” says Arderne.

“While the developer still has 50 of the total of 550 plots available for sale from R1.2 million, the resale market has picked up substantially over the past year. New investors capitalising on the global property downturn are purchasing plots for approximately half the original selling prices of six years ago, with just 15 resale plots available, from level 800sqm stands now priced from R200 000, up to R1.6 million for prime fairway plots of 1200-2000sqm with views of the sea and Baviaanskloof mountains in the distance.”

Arderne says in the past 20 months more than 35 properties have sold or resold with nearly half these buyers indicating that they wish to build within three years. Those who have purchased for future construction have the benefit of extended building timelines of 15 years, as approved by the estate’s board of directors. A minimal environmental levy is in place to keep undeveloped properties free of alien plants for landowners who have not built within the original five-year building period.  

“The perfect balance created between course design, residential footprints and the natural elements of the Links is the defining statement that is attracting so many new buyers. For non-golfing residents the good news is that it has arguably the finest clubhouse in the country, which has been voted the Best Club Wedding Reception in the country. This is a popular conference venue and also home to an excellent restaurant.”

He adds: “Another positive factor as far as the Links is concerned is that given the current sluggish economic environment, very few, if any, new golf estates have been developed over the past few years, or are planned for immediate future, while some planned estates have been indefinitely shelved. Limited supply means increased demand, and this should lead to a gradual appreciation of any investment in St Francis Links over the coming years.”

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