Whether it's the increased scarcity of prime waterfront land in many areas of the U.S., including the escalating price that goes with it, or the desire for a fully "amenitized" country club lifestyle, many buyers across the nation are looking inland for the home of their dreams.
According to Toll Brothers, the nation's leading builder of luxury homes, Florida presents clear examples of this. It is one of the 21 states where the developer currently operates 205 active selling communities.
Toll Brothers Vice President Joe Pease, who overseas construction and sales at Mizner Country Club just north of Boca Raton, says that the South Florida market is driven by a continuing influx of affluent individuals and families looking to make the area their full- or part-time home.
"Furthermore, luxury living has turned into a year-round passion rather than a seasonal one," he said. "Plus, local buyers who want something new oftentimes look to 'move up' to a larger home, or one with an updated architectural design and more lavish interiors. He is referring to features such as higher and/or decorative ceilings, floor-to-ceiling expanses of glass, arches, columns, more sumptuous baths and gourmet kitchens.
"The prestige of residing in one of the area's newest communities also comes into play for some," he commented.
Pease also pointed out that many people realize that single-family homes on the ocean or Intracoastal Waterway have become cost-prohibitive, and, if they happen to be on the market, they may be in need of major renovations, adding to the already high price.
"In addition, waterfront homes are usually self-contained and don't provide the 'sense of community' or resort-style amenities sought by many of today's discerning buyers," Pease noted. "That type of lifestyle isn't likely to be found in the coastal areas, except perhaps in an ultra- luxury condominium setting. The lifestyle of a gated, country club community is very appealing to a segment of the population that desires exclusivity along with a wide array of recreational and social amenities, and the privacy provided only with a single-family home."
Along with Mizner Country Club, Toll Brothers is developing Frenchman's Reserve in eastern Palm Beach Gardens (northern Palm Beach County). Both have Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Courses, elegant and spacious Grande Clubhouses (Frenchman's is scheduled to open in the latter part of 2004), and separate tennis, swim and fitness centers. There are activities day and night and countless opportunities to interact with other members.
"Even if you were to invite family, friends or business associates to your home for cocktails, there would be a restaurant at the club awaiting your arrival, if you chose not to cook for your guests," Pease said.
Also worthy of mention is that country club communities such as those mentioned aren't a trek to major highways. "There is easy access to major roads and to all the support services needed for convenient living - shopping, professional services, restaurants, cultural facilities and more. And, driving to the beach isn't an all-day affair," Pease explained.
Before concluding, Pease said that many of the home sites found in non-coastal "club" communities are apt to overlook lakes incorporated into the design of the golf course, so that one won't be entirely "land locked."
"The popularity of these communities is proof positive that country club living can be the best of all worlds," he said.