Shirl Mendonca: Can new clubhouse buoy Lake Wildwood home values? |

Shirl Mendonca: Can new clubhouse buoy Lake Wildwood home values?

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

With home values still sluggish in Lake Wildwood, there is pressure on the new clubhouse and dining facilities to help push values up a notch or two. While the new clubhouse will be a fabulous building and a great place to gather, is that realistic?

What really increases home values is when demand outpaces supply because you provide the right mix of attributes and amenities. Asking your current owners what brought them to LWW is the quickest way to get at this formula.

In August, that question was posed on a social media site and got a fair number of responses from LWW residents showing that they are passionate about where and how they live … and those answers differ sharply from folks who live in surrounding communities.

A 2014 survey with responses from more than 1,700 LWW owner households provides our management with good, objective/factual data about what owners value most in the place they call “home.” In planning the new clubhouse restaurant, our management was also looking for current subjective data and, recently, an informal Community Café was held to get input from 100 homeowners. Since more than half as many people answered this social media question, it is worth adding these responses into the planning mix.

The overwhelming majority of online respondents moved to LWW because of the lake, the beaches, and to be close to water. Next in importance was security and/or looking for a safe environment. While the order was reversed, these were also the two most important criteria in the 2014 survey. After security, folks were interested in affordable golf, a desire to live within easy driving distance to family, and our beautiful environment. Next in importance was affordable housing (renting and owning), the friendliness of the residents, and the many clubs and community activities. A few mentioned nearby trails, fishing, and camping, schools, and views as important reasons for choosing LWW. There were no mentions of the clubhouse or any food service although one respondent mentioned looking forward to the opening of the new clubhouse.

By comparison, when I ask friends why they choose to live in Nevada City or Grass Valley, their answers are very different highlighting the diversity in our county and the importance of personal preference in the demand for a particular area. Almost all seem to have a love affair going with the Yuba River but they also love the cooler elevations with four seasons, pine trees and expansive views. They love the quaint towns with easy access to shopping, music, art, food and wine venues —often within walking distance— and the fact that everyone is friendly and they know their shop owners. Most of them have jobs close by and they love their schools and their town histories. A couple of friends mentioned their fenced gardens and/or wanting a very large lot.

Lake Wildwood seems to have its own very unique set of attributes to draw folks here vs. one of the other nearby communities. But what implications does this have for our new clubhouse? While it is not what draws folks to LWW, it will definitely be a beautiful addition and a great place for events … a part of the whole. Repeated formal and informal surveys continue to say the same thing; the majority of people who live in LWW want to keep our expenses in line with what they value and have asked for and they want to live in a secure environment while being able to enjoy the lakes and beaches and beautiful environment in the company of friendly neighbors.

That is the formula for increasing values. The new clubhouse will be the icing on the cake for a while, but it’s our lake, beaches, security, beautiful environment, and the members themselves that represent the cake.

Got a tip about someone or something in Lake Wildwood or Penn Valley? Contact Shirl Mendonca at

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