Mirror editorial: Property values in Twin Lakes

Residents in the Twin Lakes community have an easy opportunity to keep a few thousand dollars.

Business is down at the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. A proposal asks residents to essentially pay an extra $25 a month toward the country club. In return, all Twin Lakes residents gain access to the golf course and its amenities.

The real issue involves property values in Twin Lakes. At least one worst-case scenario predicted a double-digit decline. If the average $300,000 home lost 1 percent of its overall property value, that's $3,000. With the country club proposal, an annual investment of $300 would ideally preserve thousands of dollars in a home's equity.

The amenities proposal is a mini-bailout — not in the sense of a government takeover, but more like a last-ditch effort to keep the current system intact, rather than face an uncertain or imagined future. If the country club can't bum a few dollars from neighbors, developers could open their checkbooks. Houses could fill the void. The club could open to the public, lower its prices, attract more average Joes and scare away wealthier clientele. Housing prices could plummet regardless of whether the club stays.

All these outcomes are possible. But are they probable?

Golf courses add financial value to a community. According to a study commissioned by Golf Digest and Business Week, homes in communities with golf courses tend to hold more value in the present real estate market. In January, the New York Times reported that buyers a few years ago would pay up to 25 percent more for a home in a golf course community. The report also touched on a group of homeowners in Bonita Springs, Fla., fighting to save their golf course and property values by raising enough money to keep the course open temporarily.

Each side of the Twin Lakes debate has its valid reasons. For homeowners concerned about the equity in their investment, the amenities proposal is worth considering.

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