Recently the Island Packet highlighted the increases in Initiation/Certificate fees and POA/HOA fees in the Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, SC gated communities. There are many wonderful neighborhoods in the Lowcountry and each has its nuances, amenities, and fees. Moss Creek, which is a community just over the bridge from Hilton Head Island on the Bluffton side, offers a top-notch lifestyle and fees in comparison with many other similar gated golf communities.

In my mind, one barometer of how a neighborhood is best judged is by the real estate sales from year to year. The pace of sales dictates the popularity of the community. Also, the price of homes and its year to year pricing direction is important to include in any competitive study. We used to judge a community on the percentage of sales within a six-month period of days on market. If a community is selling most of its homes within a six-month period, it is considered very healthy.

A POA or HOA means the Property Owners Association or the Home Owners Association. We usually refer to them as POA fees, and they are annual fees that are charged to a homeowner to cover what I would call the “zero-sum game.” POA fees are charged to cover the shortfall of expenses to manage a community. Clubhouse and golf expenses are normally subsidized substantially in a gated community, and the POA is mostly used to cover the costs of amenities and operating costs in the community. Certificate, initiation, membership, or transfer fees are normally supposed to be used for new capital projects and depreciation in a neighborhood. Both fees support the operation and future growth of a community.

I tend to think it is appropriate to judge a community’s amenities on an A-F basis. In Moss Creek, I rate our golf courses by comparison to be a “B.” Our new clubhouse should be an “A.” Our marina, dog park, racket courts, and other amenities are mostly “A” with a few debatable “B” activities. In other words, Moss Creek coupled with its location and natural beauty has terrific amenities. The result of all of this is a very attractive community for new buyers.

Previously we lived in a real estate world in Moss Creek with 50-70 sales per year and 30-45 homes for sale at any given time. The increased attractiveness of South Carolina and the Bluffton and Hilton Head Island areas specifically has changed the game and made Moss Creek much more competitive. Moss Creek is now consistently running at a rate of only a handful of homes for sale at any given time and a continuing high turnover to support sales. We are still in a local market not overly impacted by national events.

The Moss Creek POA is approximately $6,600 per year plus an amenity fee of $1,500 offering unlimited golf and tennis. In comparison, the top 8-10 communities on and off the island place them at an average of approximately $20,000 per year each. The POAs of higher communities such as Spring Island and Colleton River are at approximately $25,000 each per year with Initiation Fees of $125,000 and $90,000 respectively. Moss Creek calls their Initiation Fee a Certificate Fee, and it is conservatively set at $30,000. A buyer must be careful to understand how Moss Creek competes and doesn’t compete with each community, but its success speaks for itself.

Another comparison is a similar local gated golf community called Belfair. The bottom third of the homes in Belfair compete with the top third of the homes in Moss Creek, however, Belfair has a POA fee that has had a 24% increase and is now around $20,000 per year. The one-time Initiation Fee upon moving into Belfair has skyrocketed to $70,000 which is more than double of the comparable Certificate Fee in Moss Creek of $30,000.  

In summary, Moss Creek is on the right track with one caution. Boards like to build and Members like more and more improved amenities. All this activity comes at a cost to members, and in some cases it can be dramatic. In my opinion, each amenity should be judged not only on its cost but on its depreciation expenses and POA cost to the Members.

There isn’t a better community than Moss Creek as far as member diversity, lifestyle, affordability, beauty, location, and quality of life. Moss Creek really is the deal of the century!


Written by Allison Cobb

The author assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or emissions in the content of this blog. The information provided on is an “as is” basis with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness.




Posted by The Cobb Group on


Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.