Easy access to the links, a pleasant view of rolling greenery — plus a property-value bump to boot? No wonder people want to live next to a golf course.
Cal State Bakersfield economics students looking at factors that influence Kern County home prices have preliminarily determined houses located next to a golf course are worth more — an additional 11.7 percent on average — than those situated elsewhere.
Their initial analysis of homes sold county-wide in 2018 also suggests a house's price declines 1.3 percent for every mile away from a golf course. The implication is that closer is better when selecting a property near the greens.
The findings don't surprise people familiar with golf-course real estate.
"That view never goes away. And you don't have a neighbor in the back yard," said Mary Christenson, a Bakersfield real estate agent specializing in luxury homes and estate properties in Seven Oaks, Grand Island and other parts of southwest Bakersfield. She said some clients buy next to a golf course with no intentions of playing on it.
The price premium is the good news. The bad news is that golf as a sport, as an industry, has landed in the rough in recent years.
More than 800 courses have closed during the last decade, including at least two in Kern, even as about 150 are reportedly under construction nationwide. CSUB's research shows golf equipment sales have plummeted and the number of players has slipped as generational tastes vary and people balance competing demands on their time.
On the other hand, if it's there, who doesn't want to live next to a golf course?
The assistant professor of economics leading CSUB's study, Nyakundi Michieka, shared early results of the research with hundreds of attendees at Wednesday's Kern County Economic Summit. He emphasized in a later interview that changing economic conditions affect the results, which are based on a relatively few real estate listings from Lost Hills to Ridgecrest, with the bulk in Bakersfield.
The handful of student researchers involved hope to gather additional data before having their study peer-reviewed and published in an economic journal, Michieka said.
Earlier studies focused on homes in San Diego, Texas, South Carolina and elsewhere have also attempted the measure the price premium attached to golf course-adjacent properties. The conclusions have identified home-price bumps ranging from 7.6 percent to as much as 39 percent.
Research has also found drawbacks to living next to a fairway. Besides traffic congestion and noise pollution, studies have found fertilizers and pesticides applied to golf courses can pollute the underlying groundwater.
Other price influencers
Looking at other factors affecting property values, CSUB researchers concluded living in a cul-de-sac adds 5 percent to a home's value, while each additional bedroom raises the price by an average of 7.2 percent. An additional bathroom, they found, boosts the price of a house by 14 percent.
Living next to a cemetery or a park or having a corner lot was found to have no measurable effect on a home's price. But living next to a home with certain characteristics can have positive or negative impacts, CSUB researchers preliminarily determined.
They found that if your neighbor's house stays on the market too long, it can have a very small, negative effect on your home's value. An extra bathroom in the house next door raises your property value 7.3 percent, and living next to a home on a cul-de-sac boosts your home price 7 percent. Homes next to a corner lot suffer a 10-percent decrease, according to CSUB's early results.
Stockdale Country Club's general manager, Susan Greer, pointed to a subtle distinction among golf courses, one she says can affect property values. Corporate- or individual-owned golf courses, she said, don't generally add as much value as those owned by members of a country club.
"You wouldn't want (a home) next to a course that is not maintained," she said, "because that will bring the value down."