Shooting Your Age is pleased to introduce our first Guest Author – Larry Gavrich of Home On The Course, LLC., which can be found at www.GolfCommunityReviews.com. If you are looking, or even contemplating the possibility of looking, at golf communities, I urge you to take a minute and check out his website. It’s full of demographic info, data, statistics, tax and cost of living information, and much more. In other words, the kind of information you really need to know when it’s time to move into a new community.
The Five Biggest Mistakes Baby Boomers Make When Searching for a Golf Home
by Larry Gavrich, Home On The Course, LLC
Number one with a bullet on my golfing bucket list is to shoot my age. Therefore, the very name of this web site, superintended by fellow baby boomer Brad Chambers, hooked me in. Then Brad and I connected via email, and we decided to exchange not only ideas about golf for baby boomers but also articles about the search for a golf home for those planning a swinging retirement.
I published an article Brad wrote in the December edition of my newsletter, Home On The Course, which described his thoughts about moving to a golf community, including what his and his wife’s search for a golf home will be like in a few years. Because I have worked with hundreds of couples searching for a golf community that would best satisfy their requirements, I have encountered the good, the bad and the downright ugly in terms of the search process.
Five Mistakes To Avoid
The following are the five most common mistakes that sabotage a couple’s search for a golf home –- and how to avoid them.
I think I know what she/he wants. I am forever surprised when asked to assist a couple who has had no serious discussion about what they want to do in retirement, let alone where they prefer to live. Some couples believe they can simply wing it and figure out where they might want to live as they burn up air miles and other expenses seeking that perfect place. Advice: Make a list of the top three to five things you want to accomplish in retirement, whether it is great golf, connecting with a group of mahjong players, taking adult education courses…whatever. If your and your spouse’s list overlap or, better yet, mesh, then you can start getting serious about where you might live.
“Hey Honey, how about this house?” Speaking of where precisely you might want to live, the last thing you should do first is to start looking online at houses in random golf communities. Trust me, because I have looked at and priced homes in every type of golf community in the Southeast region: There will be a home and community to suit you at virtually any price, no matter the area. From $150,000 condos to $5 million mansions on the ocean, you will find something to suit your budget and, unless you are an extreme fussbudget, your interests. The very first thing you should consider is what you learned in high school geography class –- topography. In short, do you want to live in the mountains, near the ocean or somewhere in between, maybe on a nice lake? If you cannot agree on the topography, then I suggest the person who is driving the golf agenda in retirement defer the choice to the other spouse. You can play great golf anywhere. Remember: Happy wife, happy life; happy husband…sorry, nothing rhymes with husband.
Focus only on zero income-tax states. That is not seeing the forest for the trees. In retirement, if you have a big enough income to worry about state income tax, then congratulations: You can probably afford to live anywhere you want, income tax or not. In the Southeast, the zero-income-tax states are Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. At WalletHub.com, a web site that ranks the best and worst states for retirement, Florida does rank #1; but Tennessee ranks 29th and Alabama 36th. In other words, state tax is not the definition of a happy life in retirement. (By the way, South Carolina, where your correspondent owns a vacation condo, ranks #7.) Georgia, which ranks 20th at the WalletHub site, is one of business magazine Kiplinger’s Top 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees. According to Kiplinger’s, “the Peach State is a peachy tax environment for retirees. Social Security income is exempt, and so is up to $35,000 of most types of retirement income for those aged 62 to 64. For those 65 and older, the exemption is $65,000 per taxpayer. The statewide sales tax is 4%, but jurisdictions may add up to 4% of their own taxes. Seniors may qualify for deductions from property taxes.” In short, don’t overtax yourself thinking about taxes.
Obsessing about the kindness of strangers. I get this question a lot: “Are the people friendly in [insert name of community]?” My response is always the same: “Are you friendly?” The fact is that if you are pleasant and open to people from other places, virtually every community will meet the definition of “friendly.” Residents in most communities are happy to see you buy a property and join the community’s golf club because a) it revalidates their own choice of a place to live; b) they remember their own anxieties when they purchased their home and will work to make your transition comfortable and c) when homes for sale languish on the market, that can have a negative effect on their own home’s value. In other words, they are grateful, in a financial way, that you have made the decision to get that home off the market.
Treating the golf initiation fee as a separate cost item. Sometimes, a couple will fall in love with a golf community and its country club, only to choke when they find out the amount of the initiation fee. My response is that the initiation fee is pretty much irrelevant. Since you are going to become involved in the life of the community, the fastest and best way to do so is through membership in the club. If your budget for a home is, say, $400,000, and the initiation fee is $25,000, but you have budgeted just $10,000, then look for a home priced at $385,000 or less. The cost of the home and the membership matches the $410,000 you have allocated for both.
See, wasn’t that easy?
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