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Dec 19, 2014
Bahamian Rhapsody


(ABACO, BAHAMAS) Hard to beat the views of the Caribbean at the Tom Mackenzie/Donald Steele course at the Abaco Club on Winding Bay.  The fairways run about as close as one can get to the sea without falling in. Naturally, the Bahamian “tropical links” course has been at the top of a lot of folks’ lists as one of the best in the region. Originally conceived by self-made multimillionaire Peter de Savary, then managed by Ritz-Carlton, and most recently Marriott, the club has been through a few hands. Now there’s news that Southworth Development, which has experience with links-style resorts like Machrihanish Dunes in Scotland, has bought the Abaco Club from Marriott Vacation Club. Southworth is planning a “multimillion-dollar renovation” of the existing facilities, scheduled to begin immediately. A new golf practice facility, marina, and boathouse are also being planned. “The Abaco Club has everything money can’t buy,” said David Southworth, the company’s president. “It’s a gorgeous setting, with a well thought out master plan and a passionate membership. It’s a perfect complement to our existing properties and we look forward to taking this world-class facility to an even higher level.”

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Dec 17, 2014
7-Year Itch


(WICKENBURG, AZ) Set on more than 2,000 acres next to the Prescott National Forest, just over an hour from downtown Phoenix, the master planned community of Wickenburg Ranch has been refining its golf course for seven long years. The course was completed in 2008 and then, according to the club’s website, “painstakingly refined for the past seven years to ensure maximum playability.” Of course, we all know the real estate market and demand for private golf course living tanked right about the time the course was initially finished. Many private community courses under construction during that time didn’t survive those tumultuous times. So you have to give the developer credit for keeping the course from being swallowed up by the desert. Opening day is now set for February 7, 2015, a great time of year for Arizona golf. The private club is welcoming a limited number of daily-fee guests during its first season. You can book your round beginning on January 12. 

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Dec 15, 2014
3% Down


(NEW YORK) The pre-real estate crash market was famously lax for its underwriting standards. Do you know anyone who couldn’t qualify for a mortgage in those days? Of course, that lending strategy didn’t work out for banks or borrowers. As a consequence, in the years that followed it seemed miraculous for anyone to get approved without a massive down payment and an unblemished credit score. That’s about to change and it bodes well for the real estate market in 2015. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are putting lending new guidelines in place that will make it easier to qualify for a mortgage. And…they are going to start backing a 3% down payment, according to a report in CNNMoney. That’s particularly good news for first time buyers who are sorely needed to keep the rebounding housing market on an upward trend.

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Dec 12, 2014
Top 10 Luxury Home Trends


(SEATTLE, WA) Remember when you had to have those granite countertops? They’re ancient history to today’s luxury homebuyers. Quartz is the new granite. Not only does it have a “wow” factor, it’s easier to care for and will take more abuse. According to a new Redfin blog, quartz countertops are just one of the top 10 design trends for luxury homes in 2014. Topping the list is luxurious showers (who has time for a bath?) with multiple showerheads. Fire pits by a pool that blends into the natural environment and outdoor kitchens with fireplaces (and even TVs) are also top desires, as families spend more time in the backyard. Rounding out the list are wine tasting rooms, white kitchen cabinets, high-end half baths, neutral toned dining rooms, and sticker murals in kids’ rooms. Unfortunately, that putting green you can’t live without didn’t make the list. Look on the bright side, that leaves more time to spend in the wine tasting room. 

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Dec 10, 2014
Tiger & Trump


(DUBAI, UAE) Tiger’s comeback on the golf course may have gotten off to a rocky start, but his golf course design business seems headed in the right direction. After finances derailed his first Dubai project and his course at The Cliffs in South Carolina, his very first course (El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas) will open next week. His first U.S. design, Bluejack National in Texas, is under construction and scheduled to open next year. And yesterday Woods announced he is designing a golf course in Dubai that will be managed by Donald Trump. The Donald’s involvement should allay fears of what happened to Woods’ first foray into Dubai when his project stalled and eventually disappeared into the desert sands. Trump World Golf Club, Dubai is scheduled to open in 2017 and will be located inside a 55-million square foot community called Akoya Oxygen. According to Arab News, “The course will be situated at the heart of the development, with some of the highest premium, residential developments in Dubai overlooking the course.”

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