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December 2021

Golf Facilities for Sale….Going, Going, Gone!

By Scott Kauffman

Back in February, real estate broker Hilda Allen and her namesake team helped sell a pair of 18-hole courses in Lake Wales, Fla., in conjunction with Bullseye Auction & Appraisal. Oakwood Golf Club was sold Feb. 11th to the highest bidder at $527,500 and historic Seth Raynor/Donald Ross-designed Lake Wales Country Club sold a week later for the top online bid of $605,000.

In mid-August, Seven Hills Golf Course, a bank-owned facility currently closed in Spring Hill, Fla., also traded hands under the auspices of Allen/Bullseye Auction. The top bidder at this auction was $420,000.

To be sure, three auction-related golf property sales in a six-month span does not make a trend, but this alternative real estate marketing approach certainly is being more embraced by overall property owners in recent years. And Allen, whose Adel, Ga.-based firm has 1,000-plus golf course sales to its credit since 1991, knows the nuances of auctioneering as well as anybody in golf, being a licensed auctioneer in a dozen states.

In the last 30 years, Allen estimates 20-25 percent of her closed transactions went through some form of auction. Over the last decade, however, the percentage of sellers resorting to this age-old practice has certainly picked up pace, including several clients in the last year where spouses wound up with golf facilities and had no interest in continuing the business.
“In a lot of cases, the spouses left and they don’t know what to do with these because maybe the husband was running the golf course,” Allen points out. “Or the woman really doesn’t want it. So, it’s a marketing tool.

“But it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. You really got to weed it out. It’s just not something you put on every property.”
And auctions are not always, as some might perceive, the case of a distressed sale or a not-so-appealing property.
 
“Some people jump up and down and say, ‘Oh, I don’t want an auction,’” Allen says. “So that word might not be the best.  I like to say it’s just an accelerated approach. It’s a marketing tool.

“If you think about it, auctions are the oldest way to sell anything. From livestock to high-end art.”

Now, even high-end residential property has joined the busy auction block, not to mention all facets of commercial real estate. For instance, in a study of the golf courses for sale market, of the nearly 100 properties either publicly listed for sale with a broker or quietly through private “pocket listings,” there’s at least another half a dozen or so being marketed through auctions or creative strategies like the so-called “stalking horse bidder.”

Among the subject properties for sale through the above means are Patriots Glen National Golf Club in Maryland and high-profile Makaha Valley Golf Resort & Residence on Hawaii’s main island of Oahu. Patriots Glen, featuring an 18-hole course and 5,188-square-foot clubhouse, was scheduled to be sold in late October by Hostetter Auctioneers and Larry Hirsh’s Golf Property Analysts; bankrupt Makaha Valley, featuring 36 holes and 644 total acres, is being sold by CBRE executive vice president Jeff Woolson’s Carlsbad, Calif.-based CBRE Golf & Resort Group.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to auctioning off a course is time and the serious nature of buyer profiles.
“It’s a quicker turnaround,” Allen says. “And it really weeds out the buyers. When they bid, they’ve got to be ready and willing and able to close if they’re the highest bidder.

“Time’s money and money’s time. Usually it’s a window from 60-90 days from start to finish. I think the average is like 75 days at the most if (sellers) have everything in order.”

 

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