The Honda Classic with Stephen Jara

The Honda Classic is one of the most popular professional golf tournaments in the country, drawing a number of high-profile golfers to South Florida. To get the inside scoop on current trends in golfing communities and real estate, we spoke to Stephen Jara, Senior VP of William Raveis.

Do you have a favorite all-time memory from previous professional tournaments in the area?

The original Honda Classic was the Jackie Gleason Invitational held in Fort Lauderdale. A close family friend, Bob Murphy, won the tournament in 1975 – which we still celebrate.

Are there any homebuyer trends you've noticed developing in golf communities?

Yes, buyers in golf communities are looking for several amenities other than golf that have become extremely popular, including: wellness and fitness, pickleball, an indoor and outdoor dining experience, and a friendly atmosphere. Golf isn’t as important as it was in the past but lifestyle has definitely become more important. In Palm Beach County, we believe that close to 85% of our buyers are coming from the North East.

Has the typical buyer with an interest in the golfing lifestyle changed in the last 10 years?

Absolutely, baby boomers are not playing as much golf as the prior generation. The interest and passion is there but the amount of rounds are not being played. Retirement has also been a factor as a greater number of folks work past 65, not allowing the time to play golf.

What's been the most surprising trend that’s developed in real estate during your career, whether that's in regard to golf communities or the market in your area in general?

The lifestyle trend to live in a condo or townhouse downtown has grown drastically. The growth of downtown Delray Beach and West Palm Beach has exploded. Folks that want to live in an area that’s walking distance to restaurants, gyms and other fun activities has also trended. Urban living also has a shelf life where we see after a few years buyers coming back to the gated clubs.

What are some ways you foresee golf communities attempting to gain a competitive edge over each other in the coming years?

Real estate values. Being able to purchase a home built 30+ years ago, renovate it and still have it be valued considerably less than other downtown homes. Also, new clubhouses and renovated courses have been important to the continued success of having a top flite membership. Clubs MUST develop a strategic marketing program. They must prepare for years out and be willing to pay for that. A successful Real Estate program is also a must-have in attracting new members. I have found that we are in a totally new era of country clubs and that a successful club will be proactive today rather than reactive in the future.

What are some key differentiators for Palm Beach County as a place for golf enthusiasts to live versus other major golfing cities around the country?

Palm Beach County has so many golf courses to choose from. The numerous amenities include pristine beaches, easy access to two major airports with direct flights, fantastic shopping and restaurants, a great arts scene, among many other activities. Golf enthusiasts have so many options and summer in Palm Beach County is any golfers dream. Almost every club has summer reciprocal golf arrangements with other clubs giving endless opportunities to play on different courses.

How would you say your experience and affiliations with golf clubs in the area informs the way you sell properties to buyers who are interested in the Palm Beach golf lifestyle?

My career began in Country Club Management. I have been around clubs most of my life in Palm Beach and know all of the details about them. I’m well equipped at understanding the specific details that each club offers and successfully choosing a golf community that best suits the buyer as to their needs. As Senior VP of William Raveis South Florida, I assist clubs in their real estate operations as well as guide our sales associates with country club real estate operations.

What would you say is the best part about the Palm Beach Honda Classic?

I have to mention three best parts of the Honda Classic. First, the economic value that the tournament brings to the area is fantastic. Second, the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation benefits from Jack and Barbara Nicklaus’ efforts. Lastly, the best part of the Honda Classic is that it’s become an entertainment destination. Non-golfers as well as golf enthusiasts enjoy the tournament. The sky bars surrounding the Bear Trap and the evening entertainment draw so many people to the tournament. If you have never been to the Honda Classic, make sure you do this year.

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