Sergio Garcia CottagesREAL ESTATE

Okanagan Valley real-estate market so strong even Sergio Garcia's selling

By Chris Baldwin,
Contributor

VERNON, B.C. - Sergio Garcia wants to sell you his houses.

OK, it's probably his 10th and 11th houses. But they are still Sergio's places. You can find them right off the seventh fairway on Predator Ridge Golf Resort's Peregrine golf course.

They've been available for weekly rental by vacationing golfers for years. And you might be surprised how many golfers ask specifically to stay at Sergio's.

Now, they're available for purchase. Real estate agents expect each of the two-level cottages to sell in the $600,000 to $700,000 (Canadian) range. Unless a Sergio stalker comes out of the woods and goes bid-crazy. (Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view, one of those all-yellow outfits Garcia wore on the final day of the British Open is not included).

Garcia bought the cottages rather casually on his first visit to the Okanagan Valley, a British Columbia wonderland of lakes, golf and wineries, in 2000. The Skins Game brought him here, and he brought his parents along too.

"Sergio Garcia was something else," said Herb Paterson, the 81-year-old owner of Predator Ridge who's seen it all in a full golf lifetime. "You can tell his parents raised him right."

Okanagan Real EstateGarcia fell into an easy, comfortable pattern in his Okanagan days.

"He'd rent a private plane and fly out into these little hamlets and fly-fish in the morning," Paterson said. "In the afternoons he'd play golf. And at night, he'd take out our waitresses. Usually a different waitress every night.

"Not bad, huh?"

No wonder Garcia wanted to buy in. He purchased those two cottages in 2000, made relatively regular trips - regular for an international jet-setter, at least - until 2003.

Now, Sergio Garcia just happens to be the most famous person taking advantage of the Okanagan real estate boom. With loonies burning up the pockets of Alberta oil barons, this vacation spot is awash in second-home buyers. Prices continue to rise while many U.S. markets level off, and sellers are having a field day.

"For those with oil money, a million dollars for a home they're going to use a few weeks a year isn't a big deal," local developer Bill Eger said.

It is a big deal for courses like Predator Ridge that have a major real-estate component - a big-money deal. There are two new golf courses in development in the valley, including a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design right on the Lake Okanagan, and plenty of corresponding subdivision homes to build.

The houses are going up so fast, there aren't enough experienced contractors and construction workers to go around. ("See that blue house over there?" a local tour-bus driver pointed out on a mid-September jaunt. "They planned to move in for the May festival. I think they just got in last week.")

Okanagan WineriesIn other words, Sergio wasn't just chasing fish and skirts when he made his purchase in 2000. He had a smart business plan too.

His two side-by-side cottages are mere steps from No. 7, one of Predator Ridge's most picturesque holes. Calling them cottages is a bit misleading; they're big enough, and luxurious enough, for even a top-10 golfer to call home.

The "for sale" signs are almost apologetically discrete in size. Around Predator Ridge, las casas Sergio have become something of a shrine.

"Sometimes golfers will call and say, 'I want to rent Sergio's place,'" Predator Ridge Marketing Director Lisa Corcoran said. "They say they hope [Garcia's golf game] rubs off on them."

Pretty soon they'll be somebody else's houses, somebody else's game. Welcome to Okanagan.

Even Sergio Garcia knows he'd be crazy not to sell.

If you go

Info on Sergio Garcia's cottages: 888-578-6688
Okanagan tee times: 800-930-4622, www.spectaculargolf.com
Tourism info: 800-435-5622, www.hellobc.com

November 22, 2006

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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