May 18, 2024


Mad about real estate

A Gated Community Home – is it for You?

As a real estate agent, often I am requested to find my clients specific types of homes and home sites for building. These specifics typically include: Bay front, Lake front, water view, specific number of bedrooms and baths etc. If you’ve ever purchased a home, then you know exactly what I am referring to…

In recent months however, I’ve been increasingly asked to locate homes or home building sites in gated communities around my service area of Bay County: more importantly, the Panama City – Lynn Haven metro area of Florida. I believe we are all well aware of what a gated community is, but if not let’s identify some characteristics of these communities…

“A gated community is a type of residential community which offers controlled access and entrances for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles, and may feature a closed perimeter of walls and fences.”

While gated communities are not a new form of residence, they are often misunderstood. In today’s real estate market there remains a common misunderstanding that gated communities are only for the wealthy and beyond the means of the average home owner. This of course is not entirely true.

While there are some upscale communities that cater to a more costly living style, there are also many gated communities that offer similar life styles and amenities for the average home buyer. In my area there are many of these types of communities all offering various amenities and benefits. From master planned gated lake communities such as Lake Merial or Wild Heron, to master planned gated bay front communities such as Bay Point.

Each gated community may offer unique living and investment potential. For the consumer interested in these types of communities, there may also be additional benefits. When speaking with my customers regarding their desire to own a home in a gated community, an over-riding factor seems prevalent: Gated communities are perceived safer for children and families and offer unique living styles for those that so desire them. They are also perceived as maintaining their home values and appreciation.

While gated communities may not be for everyone, they do offer features many find attractive for their choice of style and quality of living. Features such as private and semi-private marinas, on-site fitness clubs, golf courses and child day care are being required by home buyers more and more in today’s real estate market. These features and amenities tend to be prevalent in many gated communities and fulfill the wants and needs of these types of home buyers.

In addition, I’ve recently been made aware of another unique style of gated community which caters to the racing fan! These communities offer residents race tracks for their amusement. From oval stock car style tracks to 1/8 mile drag racing tracks as well as motocross racing. How’s that for a unique recreation and living style!!!

A retired couple I am currently working with would like to find an Active Adult 55+ Community. Both husband and wife workout daily, own a boat and are avid golfers. Naturally, they would like to purchase a home within a gated community, which is either on or very close to the golf course. The community must offer dock space for their boat and have a club house or community club with an exercise room or fitness center.

As I show this couple the available communities, a few items are of particular interest to them: Some gated communities offer limited or no “through traffic” to the residents, which they value. The limited trough traffic value is for their grand children whom visit with them several times a year. Homes within gated communities often exhibit a strong pride of ownership. I’ve yet to find within a gated community a home with an unkempt lawn or debris scattered about the property. In large part this is due to the homeowners’ associations’ rules, or covenants and restrictions which govern many of these communities.

Homeowner association rules often include restrictions such as:

  • No overnight street parking
  • No boats, campers or RVs allowed in driveways
  • Houses must be painted only certain colors
  • Landscaping must be pre-approved by an appointed committee

Additionally, residents of these communities take pride in their community and self-monitor and maintain their properties. To some these rules may seem excessively restrictive, while to others they are a necessity to maintain their style and quality of living. Many of these communities have what I refer to as “spot light homes“. These homes are the “premier” homes of the community. Often, they are built for specific owners or for events such as the Panama City Parade of Homes.

They will feature the highest quality construction materials and fixtures, and often are the highest priced homes in the community. While many gated communities offer luxury homes, vacation homes, and luxury condos there are also those that offer affordable homes, condos and home sites.

These communities may not have the full amenities of the more luxurious communities, but still manage to offer safety, community spirit and modest community pools and club houses. Many of these practical communities are specifically and conveniently constructed near schools and local recreation venues.


Not all master planned gated communities have uniformed security guards and cameras, but all offer unique living opportunities for those that desire the features and amenities the gate community has to offer.

From retirement communities to equestrian communities, from waterfront communities to forested secluded communities, gated communities are sought out by many of today’s home buyer looking for that little something “special” for their investment. Gated communities work for everyone, not just for the wealthy.

© Copyright 2008 Jennifer MacKay. All Rights Reserved.