There's a whole other world of master planned communities that often go unnoticed by even the most savvy second home seeker. Buyers from all over America can miss these opportunities because they often do not appear on public multiple listing service (MLS) databases sorted by ZIP code, price point and other search terms designed to appeal to a wider variety of shoppers.
Some industry experts call these hidden gems "destination amenity
communities," a handle that connotes the fact that the properties are
usually located in the most desirable vacation spots and are loaded with
things to do. Developers spend millions putting in unique amenities that
really deliver a sense of place. Then they staff the private communities
with an in-house sales team and market them to buyers who are typically far
Elisabeth Miller-Fox, and the Web resource she and her partner, Marie
Roberts, have run for more than a decade, PrivateCommunities.com, estimates
that there are thousands of these ideal spots throughout the country. Their
site lists hundreds, as the largest single compendium of luxury private
communities that can be found.
"They run the gamut," says Miller-Fox, "And each is a story unto itself."
Miller-Fox and Roberts launched the Web site in 1996 to help buyers find
vacation, retirement and second homes. Try as they might to cover the
waterfront, so to speak, they heard from buyers who "missed" the most
desirable places because they were so well hidden.
"Typically, private developers fund the community's infrastructure and set
up their own in-house sales team. Often, local real estate brokers don't
know what's for sale behind the gates until something pops up years later as
a resale property," she explains. "Resales listed with local brokers get
captured on sites such as Realtor.com and Zillow, because those sites only
work with properties in the multiple-listing system. Otherwise, prime, new
privately developed property is largely invisible to the general public."
It's not that developers of these secluded gems don't market their
properties. They do, but because they market themselves as special places,
they don't want to be perceived as accessible to everyone. Therefore,
balloons at the entry just won't do. No, these private, typically gated,
communities are places for people who want to feel special from day one.