Here is something we haven't seen much of lately: a positive story about the golf housing sector.
Builder Magazine has just published a ranking of the "The Healthiest Housing Markets of 2009." It led with the top 15, and coming in at No. 15 was one of golf's longtime bastions, Myrtle Beach, S.C. Even better, the magazine credited Myrtle Beach's "success," at least in part, to its golf economy: "A steady influx of people ... are drawn by [Myrtle Beach's] close proximity to the ocean and 117 golf courses at last count."
(I put quotes around success because -- as Builder's editors point out -- "virtually every" housing market in the country was down in 2008. But Myrtle Beach did relatively well compared to, say, Las Vegas.)
Specifically, the magazine lauded Myrtle Beach for its high number of building permits (3,211, or about 1 for every 82 residents), and the state of its average housing prices, which is both affordable ($174,800) and relatively steady (having fallen about 10 percent in the last 12 months, much better than the norm).
The magazine's criteria: "We ranked them based on population trends and job growth, perennial drivers of housing demand. We also examined what's happened with home prices; many of the healthiest markets have managed to hold the line on home values. And finally, we considered the rate building permits, which may be the single best ongoing indicator of builder confidence in a market."
The top 15 is dominated by cities in North Carolina and Texas, which happen to be places where golf -- while not the driving force it is in a city like Myrtle Beach -- is still a year-round pursuit. The full list can be viewed here.