Mar 02, 2016
Five-Star Experience

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA) Congrats to Keswick Hall and Golf Club, which has been honored with the prestigious Forbes Five-Star Award in recognition of its exceptional level of luxury and service for the second year in a row. It’s one of only 154 properties worldwide to achieve this coveted tribute and one of only three in Virginia. The 600-acre luxury resort, set in Virginia's scenic wine and hunt country, has garnered other significant accolades over the past year including for its new Pete Dye-designed golf course, Full Cry at Keswick Golf Club, debuting at No. 47 in Golfweek's "Best Resort Courses." Full Cry was also honored in Golf Digest's "2015 Best New Courses" list last December. Keswick Hall has also attained Condé Nast Traveler "gold" status, and is one of Travel + Leisure's 500 "World's Best Hotels." Not bad for a “boutique” resort. Of course, the resort is a property of Richmond, Va.-based Riverstone Group, which also owns and manages the prestigious The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort, The Sea Pines Resort, The Jefferson Hotel, and The Hermitage Hotel.

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Feb 29, 2016
Just Like Old Times

(LIVERMORE, CA) We weren’t sure we would ever see the return of lotteries for home releases. But at Sage, a master planned community by Shea Homes in California, the first homes sold out earlier this month. As a result the next release of homes will be offered by lottery. If we’re surprised, we’re not alone. Shea Homes Northern California President Layne Marceau said in a statement, “We’ve never seen anything like this. The model homes haven’t been completed as yet and the home sites sold out immediately to pre-approved home buyers.” The community, with homes ranging from the mid-$500s to the high $600s, will offer a swimming pool, cabana, bocce ball court, fitness center, clubhouse, spa, yoga lawn, community garden, bike paths, art walk, wellness circuit, and “quiet spaces to recharge and refresh the body and soul.” There’s no golf in the master plan, but no worries. There is plenty of golf in the area, including the Rees Jones-designed Poppy Ridge right in there in Livermore.

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Feb 26, 2016
California Vibe

(INDIAN WELLS, CA) While the Honda Classic is being played on a Jack Nicklaus layout this week, two Nicklaus Signature courses at Toscana Country Club are helping fuel real estate sales. The premier luxury resort community, set in sun-soaked Coachella Valley, has completed several project enhancements following 11 successful years of real estate sales and development. Last year, Toscana sold 56 homes, resulting in a sales volume of over $96 million, with plans to release additional home sites this year. They also opened the final nine holes on the Jack Nicklaus Signature North Course; introduced a new golf instruction center; and debuted three newly renovated and redecorated show homes. In addition, the club recently completed a major kitchen expansion for its restaurant, Il Forno Trattoria. That’s what we’d call a very productive year!

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Feb 24, 2016
London's Falling

(LONDON) If you’ve been holding off buying that luxury home in London, you’re not alone. Sales in London’s poshest neighborhoods fell to a seven-year low thanks to a changes in the Stamp Duty Land Tax. Seems buyers, naturally, are turned off by the prospects of a new tax that will increase the stamp duty tax to as high as 12 percent for the most expensive homes. The new tax goes into effect in April and effects all investment and second home purchases in the UK by making them subject to a higher tax (3 percent more) than primary residences. The pending tax has already had an effect in the desirable London neighborhoods of Kensington, Chelsea, Mayfair and Westminster where sales in January were 30 percent below the average, the lowest since 2009. The Stamp Duty Land Tax applies if you buy a property or land over a certain price in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Feb 22, 2016
This One’s for the Birds

(BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, PA) Snowbirds or migratory birds? Seems like only one group will come out a winner in the battle brewing at Green Pond Country Club. Developers want to build a 55-and-up community on a portion of the club’s property. Founded in the 1930s by a group of wealthy Lehigh Valley residents, the club is owned by 24 shareholders, relatives of the original founders. Many of the current shareholders have never even seen the club, says the club’s chairman. But they’d like to make some good money for their shares and have voted to sell off a portion of the course for development. Thing is, the course is still viable, with 35,000 rounds played each year. And for 79 years the course has hosted the Lehigh Valley Amateur. Now a group of residents, Save Green Pond Marsh, has joined the fray. They are opposed to the development plan because of the land's value as an important rest area for migratory birds. The shareholders are fighting back, saying they’ll sell the entire course for development if they current plan isn’t approved. A fine feathered mess this has turned out to be.

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