By Dave Enscoe, Advertising Department

Harbor Pines is not normally a place where empty nesters go to downsize. It's an upscale golf course community of estate homes, most of which have two stories and four bedrooms.

But it's where Marcus and Connie Johnson chose to live when Marcus retired after 30 years with Sea-Land Services and their two sons had moved out of their house in Central New Jersey.

"We had a really big house in Monmouth Beach and were looking to move further south, where there wasn't as much traffic," Connie recalls. "We wanted to downsize a bit but we weren't ready to go the condo route. My mother, who lives in Absecon, said, 'Why don't you look at Harbor Pines?' So that's what we did."

That was nearly 10 years ago. The house the Johnson's purchased was built by Max Gurwicz Enterprises, which developed the more than 500-acre golf course community in Egg Harbor Township. The Osprey II model features four bedrooms and 2 ½ baths on two floors and is just across Castle Pine Drive from the course.

Marcus, an avid golfer, liked the golf course location and the fact that homeowners received a substantial discount on memberships to the highly regarded Harbor Pines Golf Club.

"It's a great course, forgiving but still a challenge for the average golfer," us says. "It's also a great community. There are no association fees but everybody keeps their home tidy."

The house also met the couple's prerequisite that it have a first-floor master suite.

Located on a corner lot, the house features an all-stucco exterior and a two-car attached garage. The front door opens into a 14-foot-long vaulted entry foyer with hardwood floors that extend throughout the first floor. To the right of the foyer French doors open to an office. To the left is an enormous great room with dining and living rooms delineated by half walls and decorative columns.

"I love the open look," Connie says.

The living room has a cathedral ceiling and features a gas fireplace. The great room also includes a spacious kitchen with an immense island, granite counters and stainless steel KitchenAid appliances. An octagonal morning room has a bayed window and French doors lead to a paver patio.

Just off the central hall is a master suite with a bay window reading nook and three closets including a supersized walk-in with built-in drawers and shelves. A fancy chandelier in the master bath is suspended above a whirlpool tub and there's a ceramic tiled walk-in shower.

Three more bedrooms, all with walk-in closets, a full bath and a sewing room are found on the second floor. A spacious walk-in storage room has a vaulted ceiling and could be converted into a rec room.

The Johnsons have put the house on the market because they also own homes in Florida and Virginia, and they've decided three houses is one house too many.

"It's hard having three houses," Connie says. "We have a winter home in Florida, where one of our sons lives and another home in Virginia, where our other son and grandchildren are," Connie says. "It's going to be sad to leave. It's just that we passed a special birthday and its time to downsize a little bit."

An open house at this property, which is listed for $539,000, will be held Saturday, Jan. 5, from noon to 2 p.m. For more information and directions call Holly Henry of Balsley/Losco Real Estate, 609-703-6733.

Fast Facts:

Where: Egg Harbor Twp.

Size: 4 bedrooms, 2½ baths

Taxes: $10,716

Price: $539,000