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Condos are the Rodney Dangerfield of real estate -– they get no respect. When the housing market drops, condo prices typically drop farther and faster, and real estate pundits issue warnings to stay away. But current low prices in some of the finer golf communities are no joke, and many who never thought they could afford to own a vacation home now find themselves tempted.

Here’s why, using one example:

Low Prices –- In Pawleys Plantation, near Myrtle Beach, 2BR, 2BA units on the 10th hole of the challenging Jack Nicklaus golf course are listed at $160,000, down from $220,000 a few years ago. With 20% down and a conventional 30-year mortgage at, say, 5%, the monthly principle and interest payments on the Pawleys unit would be $1,100 per month. Taxes add $153 and homeowner association fees $320 per month, making the total monthly outlay $1,573. But wait…

Rental Income –- Pawleys Plantation condos rent to families and traveling golfers for an average $1,100 per week. A property management fee, which covers all marketing expenses, clean-up after renters leave and other maintenance costs, cuts 50% from the rental income, leaving a net of $550 for every week the unit is rented. Assume the Pawleys unit is rented for 16 weeks per year at an estimated income (after management fees) of $8,800, or $733 per month, reducing the monthly outlay to $840. (Note: Under certain stipulations, you will also be able to depreciate your condo for tax purposes.)

Appreciation potential –- Local Market Monitor, a respected housing market forecasting service, predicts that Myrtle Beach area home prices will appreciate 7% between 2013 and 2014. Assuming a more conservative 3% annual increase in the coming years, the Pawleys unit’s value could grow by almost $5,000 annually in the early years, and (eventually) make up for most of your down payment.

Inflation hedge -– If you are sitting on any cash today and we encounter the blast of inflation that many economists expect, your dollars will be worth less unless they are invested in some asset that typically appreciates at least in sync with inflation. Many experts believe real estate is one of the best hedges against inflation.

Paid vacation –- You and your family probably take at least one vacation each year. When you use your own vacation home as your destination, you can factor in at least some of the amount you would have spent at another resort. Over time, that amounts to thousands of dollars. Many good choices are available in golf communities closer to home. Condos at Owl’s Nest in Campton, NH, for example, begin in the $200s. And with skiing nearby and a scenic Mark Mungeam 18-hole layout on site, rental potential is strong.

If this all sounds interesting, contact me at [email protected] and I will be happy to share details about golf communities where your vacation home can almost pay for itself.

Larry Gavrich is founder of Home On The Course, LLC and publisher of the blog GolfCommunityReviews.com.

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?