Lake Martin Voice Realty
Wildlife diversity, for sure!
Every time I head to StillWaters to show a home or condo for sale, my “web staff” knows I’m coming back with new wildlife photos. To date, I’ve captured lots of deer, ducks, and herons. In fact, I have a wildlife photo file on my computer just for StillWaters.
I was in StillWaters twice last week, and both times I saw turkeys on the golf course. The first time, it was this crowd below: two jakes (immature males), and one mature long beard.
This guy was definitely the boss. He was standing by the road, and let his minions above walk ahead of him to clear the way and make sure there were no dangerous golfers around. For those of you unfamiliar with turkeys, I will let you know, the length of his beard (that straw looking hair poking out of his chest) is pretty impressive. I tried to get a little closer, but this was the best I could do from 100 yards with a 300 mm lens:
A week later I was leaving a listing appointment in StillWaters. I got to almost the same bend in the road and noticed another turkey was standing with one foot in the road, gobbling his head off. A car passed him, he took three steps back, then stepped back out and double gobbled. As an avid turkey hunter, I was amazed. This was a week into May, and turkey season was over on April 30. It just goes to show you that, even in the wilds of StillWaters, the primal procreative drive of nature does not hew to man’s law. I eased my car up to him, and he walked back into the woods. This was the best shot I got of him, below. Maybe he was the same boss I saw a week earlier:
So many people come to Lake Martin because of its natural setting; wildlife sightings are just a normal part of the day. It’s different than some other popular getaways in the South – it’s a place to slow down and enjoy people, the water, wildlife, and the peace and quiet. You can bring your kids and they may actually hang out with you!
That reminds me of a favorite Lake Martin testimonial I shot while at a school function a few years ago that sort of goes along with this theme. See if you don’t agree . . .
If this is the kind of vacation spot you’ve been looking for, check us out at Lake Martin! I’d love for you to use this website to explore the neighborhoods, the people, the events, and the waterfront properties. Check out my Lake Martin Voice Realty YouTube Channel where I have over 300 Lake Martin videos divided into five playlists (Community Info, Neighborhoods, How to Use the MLS, Home Tours, and Client Testimonials).
And if you’d like to talk Lake Martin real estate, give me a call at (334) 221-5862 or click here to email me. I’d love to be your realtor!
Is a waterfront construction project on Lake Martin any different than one in the city? I wasn’t sure, so I asked Doug Fuhrman, owner of Southern Traditions Construction, and lead man on this Real Island renovation project we’ve been following. I was hoping there would be some exciting insider scoop I could offer my readers, but Doug’s response was, “Not really.”
OK. So since construction is construction, no matter where you are, let me offer some real estate tips based on my experience selling homes on Lake Martin. While these things may seem painfully obvious, you’d be surprised by what some folks do to their waterfront homes:
1) Windows and doors:
You are at Lake Martin to enjoy the water, even if you never dip your toes in it. You need to see it. And even better if you can see it from lots of places inside a home. Why stick a tiny window in a great room when you can use a big one? Seems pretty obvious to me, but you’d be surprised. No buyer ever says, “I liked the house, but there was just too much view of the lake from the home.”
It’s hard to tell from the angle of this picture below, but across the front of the great room (back wall of the new covered porch) is a wall of glass. New sliding doors have replaced a set of smaller windows, and the new bedroom addition on the right has wall to wall windows (minus space on the left for a closet, and the far right for the new master bath). This is not fancy architecture; it’s just putting more of the lake in front of your eyes.
2) Covered outdoor living space
It gets warm here. It also gets sunny. And every now and then it rains. The picture above is a great example of an outdoor space that is OK, but how much more use would it get if it had a roof? The new owners of this home agree, and are creating a covered space that will be comfortable all day long – rain or shine. Again, no buyer has ever said, “The inside of the house was great, but I don’t want that huge screened porch.”
3) Access to the water
Make it easy to get from the house to the water. A few years ago I sold a $500k waterfront home that literally had no way to get to the water (other than climbing over a wall and scrambling down a very long hill). This was one of the first issues the new owners corrected, and imagine how much easier it is to enjoy Lake Martin! Make it a priority to have the fewest steps possible to get from the inside of the home to the dock, and if the only way to the water does not cut through the master bedroom, even better.
In the process of rethinking this Real Island home, Lee and Amelia decided to add sliding glass doors to the front of the home where there was no lake access before, plus keep the side entry for folks coming in from the street. Simple and efficient, and with a eye toward the lake.
If you’re looking for a home in the Real Island / Little Kowaliga area, check out my Little Kowaliga Neighborhood page. You’ll find all kinds of info on this part of Lake Martin, and most importantly, you’ll find a live feed from the MLS with all homes that are currently for sale in this area.
If you have ANY questions about Lake Martin real estate, give me a call at (334) 221-5862 or click here to email me. My job is help people buy and sell homes, and I serve the Lake Martin area 100% of the time.
If you have construction questions, however, I am not your guy. Give Doug Fuhrman from Southern Traditions Construction a call at (334) 531-3914 or email him at [email protected], and he’ll be happy to share his years of construction wisdom with you.
A big part of wildlife identification is simply knowing where you are on this earth. If you are wondering if that bird is a small raven or a big crow, the first step is to ask yourself where you are standing. Do you know the native range of a raven?
Similarly, I get asked all the time about where on Lake Martin I sell real estate. In fact, I was asked this question twice this week, both by prospective sellers. So what’s my natural range? I answer, “All over the lake. Why?”
The Smallest Big Lake You Know
Lake Martin, geographically, is a big lake. It extends over three counties, about 770 miles of shoreline. It takes a couple of hours to drive around it in a car, and probably at least one and a half times that riding from one extreme nook to the other in a fast boat.
But waterfront home sales-wise, it’s small. Consider that in all of 2012, roughly 246 homes were sold on all of Lake Martin (per the MLS – not all sales are recorded on the MLS, but most are). We have (at this writing) about 100 agents in the Lake Martin Association. Not even counting that agents from outside the area occasionally sell here, that’s about 2.4 home sales per agent, per year. Once you decide to limit yourself to one particular area, you can expect to decrease that.
Obviously, as a full time agent, you hope to sell way more than that to build and sustain a business and support your family. The Lord has certainly blessed us to do just that. We have clients from all over the place, and we sell homes on all sides of the lake. That’s one of the reasons our Neighborhood Pages are popular – they help buyers get acquainted with the many neighborhoods/geographic areas of Lake Martin (maps, videos, histories), plus each page has a live MLS feed of homes currently for sale in that neighborhood.
So to be scientific about it, my realtor range is the entire lake. I can help you with any property in the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of who has it listed.
Give me a call at (334) 221-5862. I’d love to start the tour.
Sometimes a Lake Martin waterfront purchase is all about the lot. Sometimes it’s all about the home. In this case, for my buyers, it was all about where to put their three teenage boys plus their friends. Two summers ago, Kent and Andrea found a cabin with a large wooded lot and a great view of Parker Creek near Parker Creek Marina. The cabin was cute, but they really needed a little more room . . .
If you’re looking for a home on the west side of Lake Martin (Kowaliga Bay, Little Kowaliga / Real Island, Parker Creek), you’ll find a good number of older cabins that are dated or don’t have a modern, open flow. Some of these cabins have been added onto over the years and are a little wonky. But if you like the lot and the view, I urge buyers to be open minded about the home – that is the one factor you can change. Sometimes buyers have a hard time visualizing a remodeled home while standing in the midst of fake paneling and little choppy rooms, hence my recent efforts to share some recent renovations and give buyers inspiration.
I drove by Kent and Andrea’s house in my boat last week and took a few pictures. They graciously said I could share them with you, to give you a taste for what a remodel or facelift can do for an older lake home. They expanded the home, adding living and sleeping space, but did not stray far from the original footprint. The result is a fun home with modern conveniences and room for all the guys:
Pre Renovation View from the Water:
Post Renovation Water View:
Pre Renovation Street Side of the Home:
Post Renovation Street Side of the Home:
So how do you know how much money to put into a Lake Martin renovation?
Think about the LOT first. You don’t want to overbuild, so consider things like water depth, view, privacy, etc. On a lot like this, with a view like theirs, Kent and Andrea could not really overbuild. It’s an awesome lot. In the back of a tight slough without year round water, however, buyers need to be conservative.
If you’re looking for a home in the Parker Creek area, check out my Parker Creek Neighborhood Page. Here you’ll find all kinds of info on this part of Lake Martin, and most importantly, you’ll find a live MLS listing all the homes that are currently for sale in Parker Creek. I have Neighborhood Pages for most of the neighborhoods on Lake Martin, and they’re a great resource to utilize when house hunting.
If you’ve been searching the MLS and are feeling frustrated with the homes you see, give me a call. I can help you pinpoint the homes in your price range with most potential. That’s my job. My number is (334) 221-5862, or you can click here to email me. I’d love to be your realtor.
Attention Lake Martin Paddle Boarders and Paddle Boarding Fans:
Grab your boards and join us for a race this Saturday, May 11th at Children’s Harbor. If you’ve been part of a paddle board race at the lake before, you know you’re in for a good time. If you’ve never been to a paddle board race, or you don’t own a paddle board, come see what it’s all about.
It’s a race, for sure, but it’s also a laid back, family-friendly event that all ages can enjoy. My nine year old son hopped on a borrowed board last year at the Castaway Island race, and completed the 1 mile course with no trouble. I’ve even seen racers do the course with a kid on the front of their board! There is a $40 entrance fee, but you get a t-shirt, gift bag, and post race lunch, PLUS the proceeds benefit Children’s Harbor, so you know that money is going toward a great cause.
Racing is set to begin Saturday morning around 9:00 am, with a pre-race meeting at 8:30 am. There is a 1 mile and a 3 mile race, with trophies for the top three finishers in each category, plus door prizes. Lake Martin Voice Realty is a sponsor, so I’ll see you there!
For all the scoop, click on the links below:
Lake Martin Voice Realty agent, John Christenberry, won first place in the Fowl Division of the Lake Martin chapter of the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Wild Game Cookoff. He and Paul Barry put together a wild turkey flatbread pizza that wowed the judges! I wish I could take some credit for his success, but my only contribution was the sign in the background. So congratulations, John and Paul!
Christenberry is known hither and yon as a great cook. I won’t say that’s his best skill, as he is a great Lake Martin agent as well. One time he a drove a crock pot full of red beans and rice in his boat over to my cabin – it was awesome!
Flush with victory, his fans have talked him into another AWf contest. If you are attending the Central Alabama chapter of AWF’s cook off in Prattville, stop by his tent and sample his wares.
I will bet you didn’t know that there is a home on Lake Martin that is a full 13 feet under the water’s surface.
I didn’t know about it either until my friend and fellow realtor Gordon Pickler at RealtySouth told me about it. I don’t know why the sellers are selling it, but Gordon has it under contract and is assisting the buyers. During the course of getting it closed, they found out that our good friends at FEMA have it listed as 13 feet below the flood plain line.
(Just so you know, FEMA is the sole agency that is the judge and jury of whether or not you need flood insurance at Lake Martin. They are also the only entity that sells flood insurance. And the obvious question is how can a home sitting up above the elevation of the top of the dam be flooded?)
Anyway . . . FEMA gave Gordon’s prospective home buyers a quote of $7,218 per year for flood insurance. That sounded a little steep to the buyers so they called FEMA to appeal. No dice. FEMA was firm. They had received the surveyor’s Elevation Report – where he shot the lowest elevation of the home. FEMA insisted they read these reports all day and have used it to come up with the quote of $7,218 per year.
Undeterred, Gordon convinced the engineer that did the report to call FEMA himself and beg their case. It worked. The engineer was able to help FEMA read the report correctly – the home is 13 feet above the flood plain. Not below.
Thanks, FEMA, for another day of serving the taxpayers. True, they didn’t get any flood insurance money out of the deal, but they were able to waste a full day’s worth of time for a realtor, an engineer, and a buyer. Score another for Big Brother.
For more information on this topic, see the posts below:
There’s no turning back – renovations on this waterfront Lake Martin home in Real Island are well underway.
(For the first installment in this series, CLICK HERE for Real Island Renovation Begins)
If you love home projects, these pictures will make you excited. If you’re not the project type, then you’re feeling a little anxious. But Lee and Amelia loved this Real Island lot, and knew right away they would update the home before moving in.
Great view of Lake Martin, by the way!
It is very common to see this kind of radical renovation on the western side of Lake Martin. The Little Kowaliga / Real Island area is one of the older parts of Lake Martin, and thus has slowly populated over time to include tiny cabins that are next to million dollar homes. Generally speaking, the lots in this area are a little bigger, more wooded, and less sloping, and the feel is more rural. (Of course I can always find the exception to that statement.) AND, there are really no undeveloped lots left. When you see new construction on a waterfront lot in Little Kowaliga, odds are that person has torn down an old cabin or mobile home.
Contractor Doug Fuhrman of Southern Traditions Construction helped Lee and Amelia rethink the floor plan of the existing cabin, adding only about 400 square feet to the overall footprint, but moving things around to make the home work better.
For example, by bumping out the bedroom side of the home, they were able to expand the third bedroom and bathroom, and add a master bathroom:
The homeowners knew they wanted to be in this area, and knew their budget, so renovation makes sense. But for those of you who are not looking for a construction project, there are also new homes to be found on Lake Martin – both in and out of official developments. For example, in April 2013 Alabama Property Company released twenty nine new lots in Emerald Shores on the eastern side of the lake, you’ll see new construction there. Russell Lands is always building new homes in their various neighborhoods, and there are even a few flippers around, though not nearly as many as in 2007.
A Lake Martin realtor can cut through the hundreds of MLS listings and quickly identify homes that are move-in ready, or tear down opportunities. I’d love to help you out with your Lake Martin search, so call me at (334) 221-5862, or CLICK HERE to contact me.
It’s hard to beat a Lake Martin sunset. I’ve been experimenting with this time lapse app on my iPhone, and the other week I recorded some pretty skies over Emerald Shores. The video below is the sunset view from Lot 18, a 1.26 acre lot with +/- 321 feet of shoreline that is still available for sale. For all the listing information on Lot 18, CLICK HERE.
Here’s an Emerald Shores SALES UPDATE, too.
As of April 23, seventeen of the twenty-nine lots that were released for sale by Alabama Property Company are under contract. Two additional lots are in negotiations. In thirty-eight days, sixty-five percent of the lots offered have gone under contract or are being negotiated (we at Lake Martin Voice Realty joyfully listed these lots on March 16, 2013). These are strong sales numbers, especially when you look in the Lake Martin MLS and consider that in the entire year of 2012, a total of 38 lots waterfront lots were sold on Lake Martin, by all agents, all brokerages, everywhere.
Like I’ve said before, if you’re interested in one of these lots, NOW is the time to call me. They’re moving quickly, but there are still some beautiful lots available.
Lot 18, featured in the time lapse video above, is a great example. It’s flat, wooded, and private. Alabama Property Co. has already installed a rip rap seawall, and that wall is included in the sales price. It’s also a flexible lot; there is a variety of ways to place and orient a home on this lot. Check out the pictures below:
For more information, give me a call at (334) 221-5862, or CLICK HERE to email me. Lake Martin Voice Realty is the listing company, so we can answer all your questions.
It was March 28th, our inaugural boat ride of 2013. We had come under the power lines and made the turn south so we could see the dam. Goat Island was on our right, and Ghost Hollow and the Overlook were on our left.
Just then we spotted a strange looking duck swimming madly on the water’s surface. As we got closer we realized it was not a duck at all, but the head of a deer. Her body, obviously, was under the water, and she was swimming faster than Michael Phelps toward Goat Island. Seeing a deer swimming is not that uncommon this time of year, but still – it was a sight to behold.
We then spotted two more deer swimming behind her in hot pursuit. But these deer turned out to be dogs, and suddenly it all made sense. The dogs must have chased the deer into the water off of Ghost Hollow and she was swimming across to the safety of Goat Island. We lost her for a little while, but then we spotted her climbing onto dry land at the end of Dopson Point Road.
What about you? Have you taken your first Lake Martin boat ride of the year? See anything interesting? Let me know; I’d love to post your pictures or let you retell your tale.
And if you need help with Lake Martin real estate, you know I’d love to hear from you, too! (334) 221-5862 or CLICK HERE to email me.