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It Takes a Village

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Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine.

It truly takes a village of people to help buyers purchase a home here at Lake Martin.

Sure, you might be tempted to think that the only people involved are real estate agents and lenders.  While they are a great idea, agents and lenders are not necessary.  I will say that, according to the National Association of Realtors, 87 percent of buyers used Realtors last year to help them in their purchases.  Since I am an agent, this recommendation won’t surprise you, but I do think a great agent more than pays for himself or herself.  Choose one wisely.

Your agent should also be able to help you find additional people to assist in your purchase.  An effective agent should have the contact information of the below folks ready at a moment’s notice.

A first person you might need is a good general contractor or GC.  A GC’s advice can give you the data you need to be confident about your decision to negotiate with the seller and get a written contract.  You may need them to walk through the home on which you have selected to make an offer if there are big repair items, but please do not drag the GC around to every single home you view.  You want them to actually return your call when it really counts.

One of the first things to do after you have a written contract is to think about the land on which the home sits.  Before you even get to the house, it is a good idea to hire a surveyor.

When you consider that most of the value of a waterfront home is in the dirt, it’s a good idea to get data on that dirt.  A surveyor can help.  Some buyers elect to go pretty light here and only ask the surveyor to “mark the corners.”  This means simply finding each point of the property line and putting up some sort of marker.

Another option, albeit more expensive, is to get a complete survey of the property and its improvements.  At the end of this operation, you would be handed (or emailed) a survey that shows the home, the dock, the driveway and just about anything else that is on the lot.  A drawing like this can be extremely useful for future expansions but also could be helpful in case your neighbors get – shall we say – liberal with the placement of their yard art.

Most buyers are attuned to the fact that a home inspector is a critical part of the process. Make sure the one you hire after you are under contract is certified.

My personal theory on home negotiation is not to use the inspector as a way to nickel and dime the seller into having to repair every little scratch on the home; remember, most of the time the value of a Lake Martin home is in the lot anyway.  It’s just my opinion, but even though I like an inspector to point out every blemish, I am just looking for the big things.  I am mainly concerned about the expensive systems or potential repairs.  I think buyers should approach inspections with the mindset of priority, ranking the repairs according to their preferences.

Contrastingly, some aggressive buyers in our current seller’s market are forgoing a home inspection.  The mindset of these buyers is that they want to make their offers more attractive to the sellers, thus beating out any potential competing offers, since the purchase is not subject to an inspection.  If you choose that route, be careful, and be sure you understand all the risks.

A septic inspector is also a very important person, and this inspection also should be set up after the contract is signed.  A septic inspector is needed because of two factors: 1) most home inspectors will not include the septic system in the scope of the home inspection; and 2) almost every single home on Lake Martin is on a septic system.

Many of the septic tanks were built in a time when there was no building code in effect.  In fact, the only time the word ‘code’ came up back then was to describe the Lake’s temperature in January.  Septic inspections are not a must for every purchase, but a buyer would be wise to at least consider it.

Next comes a termite inspector, who is usually paid by the seller, but that’s negotiable.  This is a totally separate inspection, done by a pest control professional.

Usually a termite inspector issues a Wood Infestation Report, or a WIR.  A WIR will tell you if, on the particular day and time inspected, the home had active or previous infestations of termites, powder post beetles and/or wood-decaying fungi.

Many people I talk to think this is a bond that guarantees against the cost of future infestation. It is not the same thing.  If you want a termite bond, negotiate for it.  A WIR is only a snapshot of that day.

Also, unless the house is brand new, I would expect previous infestation.  Most waterfront homes on Lake Martin are older and have battled the humidity of the South.  This usually yields some sort of previous infestation.  Don’t let this freak you out unless the damage is so great that your home inspector is concerned.

An active infestation, however, is a showstopper.  You had better get those nasties out of there before you buy the house.

A dock person is another lake-specific professional that might not translate to your hometown.  Every Lake Martin home is different, but this could potentially be an expensive repair or an important part of a planned renovation.

If the home you like has a dock that only needs a few top boards replaced, then it is no problem. Your solution could be a carpenter if the job is that light; however, if the dock is about to fall in, or if illegal foam has been used on the floating dock, you need to get the advice of a contractor that specializes in dock construction.  A regular home inspection does not usually cover the dock or seawall; so don’t rely on it here.  Get a specialist to review the situation.

Similarly, you might need to get a dock contractor’s advice if you plan a big expansion.  What if your planned expansion would run afoul of dock regulations?  Is that a deal breaker for you? Then you had better include that in your negotiations with the seller.

Selecting a good attorney is often the last choice made in the purchase process, but that does not mean it is an unimportant one.

First of all, pick someone that is a good explainer.  I have been selling real estate on Lake Martin for more than 10 years, and I still learn something new at each closing.  When you have questions about something as important and expensive as a home purchase, it helps to have a good teacher on your side instead of a person that just spouts legal jargon.

Another critical point in selecting an attorney is his or her local title search expertise.  Just because your cousin Vinny is awesome at health care law in New Jersey doesn’t mean he is good at searching title at Lake Martin.  Our lake counties are rural areas (thank the Lord), and the title chain often includes some cornbread and collards stains.  The local title agents know the twists and turns of the local courthouses.  Pick a good one and trust the one you pick, but get the title insurance anyway because no one is perfect.

I may have left a few villagers out, but hopefully, I have named most of them.

 

 

 

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Driving & Docking Clinics at Blue Creek Marina

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(Photo – Courtesy of Singleton Marine)

Driving and Docking Clinics are being offered for free at Blue Creek Marina on Lake Martin!

Are you as confident as these boys about your boat driving and docking skills?  As a new driver or an experienced one learn how to drive and dock in all scenarios and conditions at a free clinic.

Experienced captains at Blue Creek Marina will offer instruction, demonstration and coaching as you practice operating and driving.  Learn how to safely and properly operate your boat.

Each Monday this Fall at Blue Creek Marina a clinic will be held focusing on a different boat type.  Here is the schedule:

  • Pontoons:  August 1, September 12, October 3
  • Sterndrives: August 8, September 19, October 10
  • Towboats: August 15, September 26, October 17

Clinics are from 10am – 3pm – snacks and water provided but bring your own lunch.  Space is limited.

Call Jennifer or Nicole at Blue Creek Marina to reserve your FREE spot.  256-825-8888

And remember – the best way to get good at docking?  Practice, practice, practice.

If you would like the best app for Lake Martin, Alabama, complete with events, eats, home search, and landmarks, please see my Lake Martin Voice App. It’s free! Just search “Lake Martin Voice” in the app store.

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Celebrate the Arts – New Water Farms

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Celebrate the Arts at New Water Farms on Lake Martin in Dadeville on Saturday, August 6th.

You may be familiar with the honey, berries or baked goods from New Water Farms since they are offered at Pepper Place Market in Birmingham during the summer.  But are you familiar with the Farm itself?  Situated on 22 beautiful acres at Lake Martin its goal of “cultivating growth and renewal” is part of the New Water Ministries – a place for people who love Jesus.

It is located at 460 Civitan Road, Dadeville – about 7 miles from Hwy. 280.  Click here for a Google Map to New Water Farms.

Celebrate the Arts is a day for free art demos from 8-12pm showcasing ceramics (Keaton Wynn), glass blowing (Micah Simpson), painting (Betsy Covington), photography (Elizabeth Bacon), woodturning  (Pete Marken), and pen+ink drawing (Kaleigh Hartley).  Watch, chat and purchase pieces as artists work in their medium.

And then enjoy the evening art gallery and a chef-inspired cuisine with Chef Blake Hartley (Bottega Cafe and Hot & Hot Fish Club) from 4-8pm.  Tickets are $75 and are available online.  To see the menu, order tickets and for more information click here.

For other events around Lake Martin download my free app – http://lakemartinvoice.com/app.

 

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Sun Festival 2016 – Alexander City

Sun Festival 2016

The Alexander City Sun Festival is here again – July 23- 30, 2016!  This Lake Martin area fun filled event is made possible by city and county governments, over 100 sponsors and many, many volunteers.  Sun Fest is coordinated by the Alex City Chamber of Commerce.

This week is packed full of activities for everyone – just to name a few (over 60 events are planned):

  • Saturday, July 23 – Get your glow on at the 5K Glow Run
  • Sunday, July 24 – Wind Creek State Park Family Day at the Lake (kayaking, sailing, volleyball, canoe race me?)
  • Monday, July 25 – Boot Scootin’ Boogie in the Park
  • Tuesday, July 26 – Hittin’ the Links Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament at Lakewinds
  • Wednesday, July 27 – KidsFest Tribal Celebration
  • Thursday, July 28 – Sunset Hike to the top of Heaven Hill
  • Friday, July 29 – Band Battle at Strand Park
  • Saturday, July 30 – Summer Tailgate & BBQ Cook-off AND the grand finale – the Jana Kramer Concert and Fireworks show. Purchase your wristband early at the Chamber, online at www.alexandercity.com or at the gate that day for $20.  This wristband gives you entry to all of the day’s events.  Bring your blanket or chair and enjoy the show!

Most events of Sun Festival 2016 are on my free Lake Martin Voice App.  To download a complete Sun Fest day by day guide click here.   You can also see their Facebook page here.  I do suggest you take a look at all 3 sources to help decide what events to attend – you don’t want to miss anything!

Happy Sun Festival everyone – you don’t want to miss celebrating all that Alex City and Lake Martin have to offer!

 

 

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Merry Christmas Ken and Sara!

Yes, Christmas in July! Where did Santa deliver Ken and Sara’s gift?  – Lake Martin of course!

Guess what Santa brought Ken and Sara for Christmas last year? Hint-it is much, much bigger than a bread box. (Spoiler alert – a new house at Lake Martin, Alabama!!)  Watch the video above to see how excited they were about their present.

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Not everyone can receive a University of Alabama Game Day Hawaiian shirt for Christmas (and surely not everyone wants one) but you can find your Lake Martin home with Lake Martin Voice Realty!

 

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Do Restrictions Constrict at Lake Martin?

 

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Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine. I also published it on my column on al.com – where I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for AL.com.

Bob and Susie Q. Buyer have found a way to buy a Lake Martin waterfront home that will pay for itself!

It’s easy money, they think.

They have done their due diligence (i.e. watch HGTV) and are ready to make their move. They have found the perfect little Lake Martin waterfront cabin. It’s on a beautiful lot with 500 feet of waterfront. When they noticed that house is crammed over to one side of the lot, it gave Bob and Susie Q. their idea. They buy the home, cut the lot in half, sell the lot, and pay for their entire purchase.

They can’t miss, right?

I can think of two reasons they will.

Firstly, they might need to consider that HGTV is carried on the cable networks of Charter, Com-Link Inc. and Dish here at little ‘ole Lake Martin. In other words, we know how to flip (and flop) here, too. If a deal is that much of a layup, it will likely be scooped up by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand way before it comes on their radar up there in the big city.

Secondly, the biggest reason is that the lot is restricted. Well, I should say that there is a 98% chance it is restricted and therefore they cannot split the lot. The seller is selling the lot subject to the same deed restrictions which they bought, and at Lake Martin, that means you can’t split it, among other things.

Yes, there are some needles in the haystack here and there. But, the last time I looked for a buyer, I reviewed the 100 or so waterfront lots for sale on the lake and only found two or three that were truly unrestricted.

If you are unfamiliar with deed restrictions, think about the neighborhood where you live just outside of Gotham. Most neighborhoods have their own set of rules about what kind of home you can build. They might also have rules that state the minimum size a home can be, how close it can be placed to the lot lines, the materials used, or any number of things.

Still other neighborhoods have “Architectural Review Boards” which is a committee of residents tasked with making sure all new construction fits the Homeowner Association’s guidelines.  These are all “deed restrictions” because they are part of the deed when you bought your house.

I hear from buyers all the time that let me know that they want a waterfront lot that is, in their words, “unrestricted.” When they mention that, I always ask them if they plan to split the lot or build two homes on a lot. Usually, they say no. Most of the time buyers think unrestricted refers to controls like architectural review committees.

They don’t want anyone telling them what color paint to use on their deck.

This also comes up when people want to be able to park their RV on the lot for a few years before they build their home. Or, they even might want to park the RV during the precious few months of home construction. Most formal neighborhoods and county road plats at Lake Martin have restrictions against this.

Other buyers might like to put a manufactured home on the lot, and keep it like that as long as possible. Again, it’s equally difficult to find a lot that would allow this.

Does that mean all restrictions are bad? If your neighbor split his lot into 30 parts and plans to sell them all to the highest bidders, would you be excited about it?

The point here is that each lot buyer must not go around making assumptions. Don’t assume that all restrictions are “bad,” or that any restrictions are “good.” One must behold any deed restrictions with one’s own eye and decide beauty.

How does one do that?

You verify before you buy.

After that, it’s too late. Therefore, a buyer with concerns about when can be done on the lot should include a contingency in the real estate contract to say something like “this offer is subject to buyer’s favorable review of all deed restrictions” or something like that. The buyer should consult an attorney to make absolutely sure.

I am not a lawyer, but experience here at Lake Martin has pretty much taught me to never assume.  But, if I had to guess, I would say that Bob and Susie Q. Buyer won’t be able to split that lot.

I will take a 98% chance any day of the week!

 

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Best Place for Fireworks at Lake Martin for the Fourth of July

4th of July at The Amp
The best place to watch fireworks at Lake Martin for Independence Day? Easy: The Amp – aka The Lake Martin Amphitheater! Lake Martin fans have been watching Fourth of July Fireworks in Kowaliga Bay for generations.

The Lake Martin Amphitheater is located on Highway 63, just south of Kowaliga Bridge. See this Google Map. Don’t be tempted to turn on Tecumseh Pt. and Russell Point Roads to get there. The official entrance to The Amp is a dirt road out on Highway 63, across from Prospect Cutoff Road, aka Elmore County Road 389.

Schedule for the Fourth of July Fireworks at the Lake Martin Amp:

5:00 – Gates open

6:30 – Opening is a favorite band of the locals The Bank Walkers.  I have confirmed that guitar prodigy Brian Bice will be wielding his six string, so be sure not to show up late.

8:00 – The Sweet Tea Trio plays until the fireworks begin

9:00 – Fireworks Begin!

For tickets click here to order online – $15 (children 6 and under free).

Happy 4th y’all! I’d like to personally thank Russell Lands for all they do to put on this show every year. The company is the major backer behind the Amp, and coordinates all of the concerts there, as well as the fireworks. It’s a huge effort and the Lake Martin community wouldn’t be the same without it.

Please see this video for an aerial tour of The Amp.  Also if you’re coming to The Amp, bring towels to sit on or low beach chairs.  It’s also BYOB but please be sure to have a sober driver.

People always ask me if they should take their boat and watch the Fourth of July fireworks from Kowaliga Bay.  It’s a beautiful way to watch the fireworks, arguably the most beautiful, but I discourage it.  If you are new to Lake Martin, or new to boats, or new to boating on Lake Martin at night, forget about it.  If you insist, please make sure to have a sober driver and at least one sober spotter/first mate.  The sketchiest part of the whole affair is after the show is over.  Everybody takes off at once and goes in different directions, and the waves can get problematic.  Be advised.

For other events around Lake Martin for the 4th download my free app –  http://lakemartinvoice.com/app.

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Lake Martin Amphitheater Aerial Tour

Have you ever been to the Lake Martin Amphitheater? If not, check out the above video.

The Lake Martin Amphitheater – aka The Amp – is located just south of Kowaliga Bridge on Alabama Highway 63. The street address is 8878 Kowaliga Rd, Eclectic, AL 36024. You turn in on a dirt road entrance off of highway 63. They have parking in the field before you get there.

The Amp is the host of many concerts (not to mention the annual Fourth of July Fireworks) throughout the year at Lake Martin. The venue is incredible! It’s really cool to bring your towels and lawn chairs and sit on the grass to be entertained by some great music with Lake Martin in the background. If you would like a schedule of what’s going on at the Amp, please see their website here: The AmpTicket prices for events vary widely, so be sure to visit their site or call (256) 329-0835  for the latest info. 

I am just a real estate agent! So please don’t call me and expect me to sell you tickets to a concert!

However, if you would like the best app for Lake Martin, Alabama, complete with events, eats, home search, and landmarks, please see my Lake Martin Voice App. It’s free! Just search “Lake Martin Voice” in the app store.

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Fly Fishing Equipment Needed for the Tallapoosa

Would you like to fly fish around the Lake Martin area? This time of year (June) has hot weather that chases fish from shallow water. That’s why local anglers point their rods toward the Tallapoosa River-the headwaters of Lake Martin.

The Tallapoosa River, especially the portion from Horseshoe Bend down to Irwin Shoals, is excellent water for fly fishing for many kinds of bass and sunfish. The problem in the past has been finding someone with the gear and the know how to teach you or take you. Enter my new friend Drew Morgan.  He has been killing it lately on the Tallapoosa. Check his IG for pics.

Stealth bomber, deceiver, game changer, popper, woolly bugger…what are these?

They are a few of the flies that Drew Morgan of East Alabama Fly Fishing  recommends.  Watch the video above and learn more about the gear he recommends for fly fishing on the Tallapoosa River. Drew covers it all- fly rod types, line types, flies themselves, etc.
Contact Drew and book your trip!
To directly contact Drew Morgan of East Alabama Fly Fishing, please go to his website here or his Facebook page!

Related Posts:

Fly Fishing the Tallapoosa and Best Times to Fish the Tallapoosa

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Why choose Lake Martin?

Why choose Lake Martin?

George and Lea had been looking for years to find that perfect spot for a vacation home.  Once they found their Lake they knew they could find their home.  Watch the video above to see why George and Lea call Lake Martin a destination, a happening place with a resort feel.  

They loved that Lake Martin was so big and beautiful with so many places to eat with access by water or land. For example, below is a video that I made a few years ago about How to Get to Catherine’s Market and Spring House Restaurant by boat.

If you want to keep up with new restaurants in the area, or just find a new place to grab a bite to eat, check out our “Eats” tab on the Lake Martin Voice Realty App.  The App will also help you know about Events, Shopping, Marinas, Weather and Water Level and of course help you find your new home at Lake Martin!

The Lake Martin Voice app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Androids.

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Click here for more information about our app!

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