One reason it's hard to get your hands around properties in destination amenity communities is that they vary so widely.
Some are small, 100-acre enclaves, while others are sprawling, 35,000-acre
Some are being developed by major, well-known companies and
communities like Bluegreen's (NYSE:BXG) Chapel Ridge and Mystic Shores at
Canyon Lake, but others are being built by golf fanatics who made their
fortunes in other businesses. And while most are high-end communities, some
offer homes at many price points.
Another reason it's tough to define these often low-visibility venues is
that, because they are privately developed, no one knows for sure exactly
how many there are. Even the Urban Land Institute, a leader in the
responsible use of land worldwide, can't offer an accurate count.
The types of buyers that these private communities attract sometimes take
years to make up their minds. Discerning buyers who favor private
communities tend to focus on the community's amenities and social
opportunities before they ever consider price.
"It's a different buy altogether," says Miller-Fox, who co-launched PrivateCommunities.com with partner Marie Roberts in 1996 to help buyers find vacation, retirement, and second homes. "It's really complex, and often the house isthe last decision they make. First, they buy into the community, the club, the amenities, the lifestyle, then the house."
And that gets us back to perhaps the only way real way to define these
properties, which are often amenity-laden places with a society all their
own. Some are targeted toward the water, some are aimed at golfers, some are
for horsemen. But whatever the stated purpose, you can bet the farm there is
something for everyone.