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Lake Martin Market Report: First Quarter 2012

Lake Martin, Alabama, waterfront home sales continue the hot streak of 2011 by posting 43 homes sold in the first quarter of 2012.

I studied the Lake Martin MLS* to see how the home sales have been in the first three months of the year. Personally, this is the best January, February, and March that I have ever had, praise the Lord. But I wondered if my experience was atypical. Generally, Lake Martin home sales are coolest in the cool months, so what was the rest of the market doing?

A quick look at the numbers in the Lake Martin MLS, which includes all agents, all Lake Martin real estate brokerages, shows that in January of 2012, 12 waterfront homes were sold, in February of 2012 it was 11, and 20 homes were sold in March of 2012 for a total of 43. This number was the best since 2007’s 43 and almost equaled 2006’s 46.

Lake Martin Real Estate Trends for 2012

What does this mean? Is this brisk pace a good omen for Lake Martin sales in 2012? It’s too early to tell, I think. If you look at 2007, which had an equally good start, the drought and the real estate bubble bursting combined to crash the market that year. However, in 2006, a great first quarter signaled a great, but declining, sales market. We just won’t know until we have more data.

But the good news is that one thing is sure – this strong quarter shows us that the sales momentum from 2011 has continued.

Lake Martin Waterfront Foreclosures Update For 2012

The other day Jessica from the Alex City Outlook called me to interview me about foreclosures in the Lake Martin area. She asked me if I felt that foreclosures were increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. My first instinct was to say that they have stayed steady, based on this post where I detailed foreclosure trends for the last three years.

However, I looked at the numbers just in case, and was surprised.

Of the 43 waterfront homes sold through the Lake Martin MLS in the first three months of this year, 13 were listed as foreclosures. That’s 30%! Way over the 7% in each of 2009, 2010, and 2011. What does this mean? Is this finally the “huge flood of foreclosures” that we have been hearing about?

I don’t think so. I think it is merely pent up supply and a coincidence that they all fell in the same quarter. I base that opinion on the fact that there are only 12 other waterfront homes listed as foreclosures that are for sale right now out of 379 total homes for sale. That’s only 3% of the supply.

Wait a minute, you might say. Maybe the foreclosures are selling at a higher proportionate rate. Maybe they are the better deals and will be sold first, thereby skewing the market down.

Perhaps, you might be right. But I think we still need more data to be sure. Remember, the first two months of the year historically are some of our lowest sales totals. It doesn’t pay to draw too many conclusions.

Let’s be happy for a strong three months of sales on Lake Martin, but let’s reserve prognostication until we have a few more months under our belts. And since we don’t wear belts much around here, I guess I should say the elastic band on our swim suits.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Lot Sales 2011
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Year In Review

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by   FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

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Lake Martin Foreclosure And Condo Sales In 2011

Here I continue my series of posts of the waterfront property sales results of 2011 on Lake Martin, Alabama. Earlier I have looked at residential sales in general, and yesterday I covered waterfront lot sales.

Today I would like to cover the effect of foreclosures and condominiums had on Lake Martin property sales in 2011.

Lake Martin Foreclosure Sales In 2011

The economists that advise shows like The View are a constant source to reassure us that the real estate market is terrible everywhere.  They would have us believe that everyone in the nation is either in foreclosure, about to be foreclosed, or at the very least in a short sale.   I find that hard to believe, though.  I am sure that Whoopi and the gang consult with experts before they make broad, potentially very misleading comments about the economy.

However, here at Lake Martin we are well past the bottom of our market. I have blogged about this in the past. We have not seen a heavy percentage of our sales being foreclosures as in other markets.  But I thought I would put a number to it, and see if my generalizations are correct.

Low Percentage: 7% Were Foreclosures

I combed through all of the residential waterfront sale for the last three years.  I had to look at the “Owner” field in our MLS and just sort of guess whether they were foreclosures or not.  This makes you inherently dependent on the listing agent to have entered correct info, but the same can be said for any aspect of the MLS.  I think it’s materially correct.

I found that, sure enough, the Lake Martin waterfront real estate market had a relatively low percentage of sales that were foreclosures, REOs, or bank owned, however you want to phrase it.  Fifteen were sold in 2011, equaling 7% of the market.  Fourteen, or once again 7%, sold in 2010. Another fourteen or 7% sold in 2009.  Comparatively, that is a very low percent of sales.

Just to put it into perspective, according to this article in the AJC on November 29, 2011,  about 30% of home sales in Atlanta are foreclosures.  That is more than four times the rate on Lake Martin.  Ouch.

Lake Martin Condo Sales In 2011

It’s pretty natural to talk about Lake Martin condo sales for 2011 after the foreclosure section. This is because most of the condo sales in the last three years on Lake Martin were sort of foreclosures.

By sort of foreclosures, I am referring to two condo complexes: Crowne Pointe and Stoneview Summit. Both of these developments were taken back by banks, and then finished out by the banks and then sold. So they were not foreclosures in the traditional sense, but neither were they straight up civilian seller situations.
total 2011: 37 – 2010: 33, 2009: 59

Stoneview Summit sold 17 condos in 2010 and 17 in 2011. This was good for 46% of all waterfront condo sales in 2011 and 52%.in 2010. Crowne Pointe sold 43 condos in 2009, which accounted for 73% of all sales.

This high percentage of sort of foreclosures produced the highest pricing pressure for any other market segment. I think that Lake Martin condo prices dropped lower than homes and lots.

Looking Ahead

I don’t think the condo market’s prices will get any better for 2012. At this writing, there are 79 waterfront condos for sale right now on Lake Martin, and 20 of them are in Stoneview Summit.

The good news is that there are no condo developments being built in the forseeable future, so perhaps that will give them a couple o more years to sell off current inventory.

What About Your Property?

I have been blabbing a lot about the market in general. Do you wonder how all this applies to your home or lot? Or maybe you are searching for your own spot on Lake Martin and would like me to tailor these market reports to help you.

If so, please email me with this contact form or at [email protected] or call me at 334 221 5862. I would be honored to try and help.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Lot Sales 2011
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Year In Review

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by   FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

 

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Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Sales 2011

Waterfront lots sold well at Lake Martin in 2011.  We the members of the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors MLS* reported 39 waterfront lots were sold, which was 44% better than 2010 and more than double the total sold in 2008.

If you missed my Lake Martin Year End Review 2011 post where I covered the basics of homes and condos sold last year, please click here.  Back to lots …….

Last year when I covered Lake Martin’s waterfront lot sales for 2010 in this post, I called 2010 the comeback year for lot sales. Any time you have a 42% increase (19 to 27), that’s a comeback. 2011 posted another huge gain – 44% – over last year. I guess that is a Secretariat-eque, shut the competition down, stretch run.

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Prices

The next thing I wondered about Lake Martin’s lot sales was the price distribution. What are lot prices like? The careful reader knows that I confess an almost prideful love of the lovely bell curve that the line chart of homes sales prices makes. Does the phenomenon repeat itself with lot sales?

Sadly, no. I tried for like 2 hours to make an informative yet pretty and easily readable chart to display Lake Martin lot sale price distribution. I could not make it work. My chart skills with Apple’s Numbers program are lacking and I just don’t think such a small sample works. I guess maybe I have to break the sales bands down to a very small increment, say $20,000. But that felt like I was imposing a result on the chart, instead of just following where the numbers led me, so in the end I decided to merely post the chart with the source data. It is pretty easy to read, anyway.

I also think that when you have a small sample pool as we do with waterfront lots, it makes better sense to drill down to examples rather than looking at macroeconomic trends.

Lake Martin Lot Sales Trends

When I look at the sales results since 2008, I think that I see the greatest change in the price range of $150k – $199k, and then also in the $350k – $449k range.  Those price bands jump out at me as the ones with the most relative increase in sales.

The $150k – $199k range didn’t really surprise me.  That is the meat of the market and one would expect good sales there in any good year. The spurt of 9 sales in the $350k – $449k range is interesting and worth a closer look.

It turns out, as I expected, that all nine of them are in deed restricted neighborhoods with covenants. That is not too surprising in that most people that buy a high end lot on Lake Martin would like the protection of neighborhood covenants.  True, there is a fair contingent of lot buyers who chafe at the yoke of Architectural Review Committees, but apparently at this price range most prefer it.

Also, of the nine waterfront lots sold in this range, seven were in neighborhoods developed by Russell Lands. Does this mean lot buyers seek out their lots? I can’t tell for sure, but I doubt it. I think it is simply a function of numbers.  Most Lake Martin lots above $200,000 are in Russell Lands neighborhoods, so odds are that they will show up in the sales results.  For this particular range of $350k – $449k, four were in The Ridge, two were in Willow Point, and one was in River Oaks to round out the seven.  The two that were not in Russell Lands developments consisted of one in Marina Marin and the other in a small neighborhood called The Overlook on Lake Martin.  It is off of Old Tree Road near Martin Dam.

Effect Of Neighborhoods On All Lot Sales

Next I began to wonder about all of the waterfront lot sales on Lake Martin.  How many of them are in deed restricted neighborhoods? How many lot sales were the quintessential quaint country lot, free of covenants, where every man is his own master?

The answer is –> not many.  Of the 39 waterfront lots sold on Lake Martin in 2011, only 9 of them appear to be free of covenants and are outside of neighborhoods.  Now, I must alert you to a huge warning – I am only guessing at their restrictions here.  Of those 9, maybe some do have restrictions and I just can’t tell from the MLS or from prior knowledge.  But of the 30 that I counted as having covenants, those I am positively sure that they are in neighborhoods.

Interestingly, the highest price lot sale that was outside of a neighborhood was $300,000.  There were two in the $150k – $200k range, but the rest were under $150k.

A last thought - being inside a neighborhood doesn’t guarantee a high sale price. The lowest priced lot sold in 2011 was in River Oaks, a Russell Lands development, and sold for $45,000.  Before you ask – yes, it was in the back of a slough and had minimal waterfront and minimal water depth.  I referenced it when a builder called me yesterday.  He wanted to spend $50,000 for a lot, but it had to have year round water, a good view, and over 100 feet of shoreline on a private lot.  Sorry, I said.  Not going to happen.

Effect of Foreclosures on Lake Martin Lot Sales

How many of the lots sold on Lake Martin in the last two years were bank owned, REO, or foreclosures? Was this responsible for the sales increases?

I think the answer is not so much.  Sixty six waterfront lots were sold from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2011.  I searched the owner name on all of these and eleven appeared to be foreclosures.  The reason I had to make guesses on owner names is that in our MLS, we didn’t have a field marked “Foreclosure” until 2011.  Going forward we will be able to search by that field. But since this included 2010, I had to guess at the owner name and trust that the listing agents had them right.

Eleven foreclosed lots out of 66 gives us about 17%.  While that is higher (I think) than the percentage of foreclosed waterfront homes that were sold, it’s not that much higher.  My gut tells me that only about 10% of homes sold in 2011 were foreclosures.  If we reduced the foreclosed lots down to 10%, it would only be a 5 lot reduction, moving the sales totals to 34 for 2011.  Still an excellent year.

Verdict: foreclosures affected lot sales only a little.  I was surprised on this, I thought it would be more.

Do You Have Any Questions?

As I continue to break the numbers down for waterfront real estate sales on Lake Martin, please feel free to email with this form or at [email protected] with questions. I get my best ideas from my readers and clients so please feel free.

I think next I will look at residential sales again, and study the effects of foreclosures and condo sales.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by   FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

 

 

 

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Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Year In Review

Lake Martin waterfront home sales finished 2011 in style, selling 207 waterfront residences on the entire lake.

This total gives Lake Martin the highest home sales since 235 were sold in 2006.  That’s not bad once you think about it.  We posted the highest sales in five years.  The statistics I quote are taken from Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors’ MLS*, and represent all real estate agents, all brokerages, over the entire lake.

The significance of this strong year of home sales cannot be understated for Lake Martin. I have said it many times here on this blog, but it bears repeating: the Lake Martin waterfront real estate market is at least three and a half years past its bottom.  Since July of 2008, everything has been uphill with regards to numbers of homes sold.

Lake Martin Waterfront Home Sales By Month

If you would like the source data for the chart above, here below are all waterfront home, condo, and town home sales on Lake Martin, broken down by month:

Below please find a line chart showing the same data for Lake Martin homes sold, I just removed 2005 through 2007 since I was getting too many lines on my chart and it was becoming hard for me to read.  I feel that 2008 is an appropriate year with which to start this chart since it was the bottom.

I think it is also notable that 2011 is the year that the market once again broke the 200 homes sold barrier.  This is the first time we have broken 200 since 2006. Back then, Lake Martin was still firmly in the sales boom, although numbers of waterfront homes sold were dropping, prices were still rising.  We didn’t quite realize that it was turning down.  Those trying to sell their Lake Martin homes should have gotten out then if they wanted to perfectly time the market.

This year, I think that Lake Martin is in just as pivotal a year. Sales increased by about 6%, but I think that prices still have not risen at all.  I think that may change in 2012.

Lake Martin Waterfront Home Pricing Trends

I only look at prices of homes sold once a year on Lake Martin. This is because we have such a small number of homes sold, relative to large metro markets. It doesn’t make sense to look at it monthly because two or three abnormal homes can skew it too much. You sometimes see a 100% increase or decrease from month to month. Too volatile. Similarly, I do not track Lake Martin home prices by calendar quarter because we are a seasonal, second home or vacation home market. Check out the monthly sales chart above and you can see that the bulk of home sales happen in warm months.

I attempt to solve our small market problem by breaking the homes sold into categories, in increments of $100,000 to start with, and then observing what percentage of the total sales that each $100k band represents.

Without further ado:

I think the above chart shows very clearly, and confirms my gut’s suspicion, that waterfront home, town home, and condo prices did not decrease on Lake Martin in 2011. They held steady with 2010 and 2009. While some sellers may interpret this as bad news (no sales increase) I think they should count their blessings.

At least there was no dip or decrease in prices. I would be shocked if there were. After all, Lake Martin is in a rising sales environment and has been for years.

So What?

So what does this chart mean?  I think it means that once again, as in 2009 and 2010, the largest percentage of homes sold on Lake Martin were in the $200,000 – $299,999 range.  Right at 25% of the waterfront home sold in 2009, 2010, and 2011 sold in that range.

If we had seen the entire bell curve shift forward towards the blue line of 2008, we could say (in my opinion) that we have evidence of price increases. But it didn’t.

I am tempted to say a price increase shift is starting in the way the $300k – $399k and $400k and $499k bands are bulging out a bit, straining in the chute, if you will.  2011 had a lot more sales in the 400s than did 2010, but the prior year beat 2011 in the 300s. I will call it a draw.

Why do I think there is a chance that we might see price increases in 2012?  Because the home sales results keep chipping away at inventory. At the end of December, there were about 359 waterfront homes and condos for sale, after 207 sales in 12 months or a ratio of 1.73.  Sure, December is the lowest listing period. But in December 2010 that number was 394 / 195 = 2.02.

Sellers - please hear me out.  It is NOT time to raise prices like it was 2006.  I am just saying that I can see the easing of downward pressure if sales continue.

Please stay tuned, I plan to write a lot more about 2011 Waterfront real estate sales on Lake Martin.

Related Posts:


Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by   FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

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Lake Martin Home Sales For November 2011

The Lake Martin real estate market posted good waterfront sales for November, 2011.

The Lake Martin MLS* reports that 8 waterfront homes, condos, and town homes were sold in November.  This includes all real estate agents, all brokerages, on the entire lake, that are members of the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors.

It meant that November in 2011 was not as good as November 2010’s 10 homes sold, but was good enough to push the 2011 total above the 200 barrier to 203.  This is significant because Lake Martin real estate market has not seen waterfront home sales above 200 since 2006 scored 235 sales.

This year’s number of waterfront homes sold so far on Lake Martin has surprised me. After a strong summer and fall, I thought that we would end the year with 205 or so total. Hitting 203 with one more month to go is very encouraging.  My revised estimate for the entire year is 210 or so homes sold, which, as mentioned, will be the best since 2006.

Will December 2011 beat December 2010?  I doubt it.  Last year there were 12 waterfront homes sold through the MLS.  That’s strong – the best December since I have been tracking the numbers in 2005.  The average amount of Lake Martin homes sold in December has been about 6 if you look at 2005 – 2011.

If that holds true, Lake Martin will be on a two month losing streak to the prior year. Does this bode ill? Not necessarily, in my opinion.  Firstly, it’s hard to be anything but happy with the best year’s sales since 2006.  Secondly, we have learned that the winter months can be unreliable predictors.  To wit, 2007 had an awesome first quarter before totally tanking.

I won’t slice the numbers too much this month; I need to save my strength for my year end review later this month.  But in case you are interested, there was another waterfront lot sale on Lake Martin in November:

Also the sales versus the prior month chart is as expected, November posted a loss versus 2010 but overall the year was great:

Waterfront lot sales for Lake Martin property sold through the MLS were also strong in November.

Strong lot sales on Lake Martin this year could mean a good year for the construction industry. Granted, total waterfront lot sales are only about 60% of their peak in 2006, but hey, over 30 is a good year.

As I mentioned above, I will put a greater amount of emphasis on the year end numbers. I will wait a week or so more to make sure that all realtors and brokerages on Lake Martin have finalized their reporting to the MLS, so please stay tuned!

 

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – October 2011
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by   FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

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Lake Martin Waterfront Home Sales Beat Prior Year

It’s official, Lake Martin waterfront home sales in 2011 will be better than 2010.

Through October 31, 2011, 195 waterfront homes were sold on Lake Martin. If you check the Lake Martin real estate market for the entire year of 2010, you see that it took the full 12 months to reach the 195 level, and 194 were sold in 2009.

Since unofficial November 2011 results show that at least a few waterfront homes sold, one can confidently say that we beat the prior year of 2010.

My conservative guess is that the Lake Martin real estate market will finish 2011 with about 205 waterfront home sales.  That equals an approximate 5% jump from 2010, and about 49% up from the post bubble low in 2008.

Lake Martin Waterfront Home Sales By Month

The below chart shows Lake Martin waterfront property home sales by month.  It is from January 1, 2008 to October 31, 2011.  You can see that 2011, at a monthly level, beat 2010 at almost every month.  Please keep in mind that these numbers come from the Lake Martin MLS*, and reflect only waterfront home, condo, and town home sales by all members of the Lake Martin MLS, all brokerages.

Cumulative Lake Martin Waterfront Home Sales

If you take the monthly sales numbers for the Lake Martin real estate market and add them together, you get the cumulative sales results.  To me it is a bit easier to judge at a glance on this chart to tell how the year in total is trending versus prior years.

Please see the below chart.  Here again I start at the post bubble low year of 2008 and bring it through October 31, 2011.

Lake Martin Home Sales Versus Same Month Prior Year

Of all the numbers I crunch, of all my nerdly charts, the below one is the one I watch the most. It tracks how each month fares versus the same month in the prior year.  For example, in October 2011, 15 waterfront homes were sold on Lake Martin.  October 2010 saw 13 sales, all agents, all brokerages.  That gives us a +2 rating for the current month.

Any positive number here is good.  If I see several months in a row of negative numbers, I know that Lake Martin is in danger of stalling again.  If we had been watching closely in 2006, we could have seen this coming.

The second home market here at Lake Martin has been on a win streak since since mid 2008.  Has 2011 kept it rolling?  The answer is yes.

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Sales

Has the momentum in home sales been mirrored in Lake Martin lots?

The answer for 2011 has been yes.

While October 2011 itself racked zero waterfront lots sold, the year in total has been a runaway success.  Through October 31, thirty three lots have sold in 2011.  Compare that to 27 for all of 2010, and you see a hefty gain. Consider that 2010 was the lot comeback year, and you can appreciate the gravity of 2011’s success.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that 2008 and 2009 represented a two year divot for Lake Martin lot sales.

I like lot sales because they are a general barometer of construction potential.  Let’s hope that our construction industry feels the trickle soon.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Through May
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by   FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

 

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Bluto – The Lake Martin Bear Market is Over!

"Zero point zero..."

Bluto Blutarsky might not want to admit it, but the bear market in Lake Martin waterfront real estate is over!  As I have said many times on my various posts about Lake Martin Market Reports, I think the tide turned in the middle of 2008.

People keep talking about it, though, and that is understandable. So I covered the topic in my latest article in Lake Magazine.  Here’s the link:

Nothing’s Over Until We Decide It Is

I am very grateful to publisher Kenneth Boone, aka Mr. Perfect, for allowing me to write these columns this year for his excellent Lake Martin Magazine.  I have really enjoyed the different medium of writing that his magazine offers, and also relished the crossover discussions I have had with those who read his magazine more than they read my blog.

So if you are a Lake Martin Voice blog reader who is unfamiliar with Lake Martin Magazine, please check it out online and in print. They have the best photography around, and (present company excluded) some of the the best writing as well.

Movie References

When I think of the phrase “it’s over” – I always think of Animal House.  However, as I was working on this article, I initially wanted to reference a different movie that also uses “it’s over” but in a much more dramatic way:

Rambo – First Blood.

It's over, Johnny.

There’s that scene where the hard core Green Beret Colonel Trautman comes to the hick town to reign in his master warrior John Rambo, played of course, by Sly.

It really is a much better scene to convey the shake-them-into-reality feel that I wanted.

He hollers at Rambo:

“It’s over Johnny!”

I even was going to let that be the headline. But I thought it might confuse the reader into thinking he was screaming at me. Plus, Vietnam is not really a good comparison to second home real estate on Lake Martin.  I didn’t want to stir up images of that.

Stallone fan or not, you have to admit that was a great movie, and an even better scene.

Even more, it launched an entire sub industry of survival knives.

I bought one at the Santuck Flea Market when I was 11 or 12.  I still have it.  I didn’t use it to fight any commies or even cauterize my own wounds but we do use it to dig up weeds in our yard.

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Lake Martin Home Sales Post Best May Since 2006

May, 2011, was a great month for waterfront home sales on Lake Martin. A total of 24 lakefront properties were sold on the entire lake – all brokerages, all agents.  This is the highest number of Lake Martin homes sold in the month of May since 33 were sold in 2006. It beats the 22 sold in May of 2010 and 2009, the 14 sold in 2008, and 23 sold in 2007.

When I pull the numbers from the Lake Martin MLS*, I find that 2011 is trending to be yet another strong year for us, perhaps to be the third year in a row that we will have bested the prior year in waterfront home sales.

Please note that in the above chart, and for the all charts going forward, I plan to quit showing 2005 – 2007 data, unless I am trying to make a specific point.

My reasons for this are:

1.)  Visually, it’s hard (for me at least) to look at so many years on one chart.  They just all mix together and lose context.

2.)  It is my sincere belief (backed up by the numbers) that 2008 was the bottom of the Lake Martin real estate market.  “The bubble” is old news. Instead of focusing on how off we are from 2005, I think the more pertinent topic to people interested in buying or selling on Lake Martin now is: how high up are we from the bottom? And, are we in danger of dipping back down again? To highlight these topics I need more space, and 2005 – 2007 must go.

I’m not throwing away the data or anything, I can always trot it back out of needed.

The below chart will show you the trend of waterfront homes sold on Lake Martin for 2011. We are trending about 10% above 2010, which suggests that we will end up selling about 50% more homes this year than in the bottom of 2008.

See The Momentum

I am a firm believer that in order to understand the direction any real estate market, anywhere, at any time, one must study the comparison of year to year monthly sales.  In other words, did the number of homes sold this month beat the same month last year? And how many months’ of victories have been tallied in, say, the last running 18 months? The answer to this will tell you that market’s momentum, and give you insight to the likely direction of pricing.

Yes, that’s right.  I’m saying pricing trends follow sales trends. If home sales go up, so will prices.  Dropping sales will drop prices.

What is the real estate sales trend for Lake Martin? Why am I so confident that we are at a low (relative) risk to a double dip?  See this chart:

The above is  a chart of the numbers of waterfront homes sold on Lake Martin since January 2008.  It shows the result of taking the current month homes sold and subtracting the same month in the prior year. Take January 2008 for example.  It sold 5 fewer homes than January 2007, thus the -5 position on the chart.  Ditto February 2008.  But in June 2009 – we see it sold 19 more homes than June 2008, so it registers a big blip up.  The key here is to focus on that zero line on the y (vertical) axis. Anything above that is “good” – aka an increasing sales momentum. The reverse is also true.

I have often cited this chart, but it is proof positive to me that Lake Martin is still on an upswing from the real estate bottom. Furthermore, you can see from the chart that in 2008 it swung from mostly negative numbers to mostly positive.

This is excellent news.  We are very fortunate here.

Waterfront Lot Sales On Lake Martin

Another bit of big news is the huge increase in waterfront lot sales for 2011. Looking at the entire Lake Martin market, 4 lots were sold in May, 2011.  This equaled May 2010.  If we consider the entire calendar year, we are trending above 2010, which was a boom year for lot sales.

Looking Ahead

Obviously, we have many more months to go so it doesn’t pay to get too ahead of myself.  But I do think that so far we can draw two conclusions:

1.)  Lake Martin waterfront home sales for 2011 will be strong again, matching or beating 2009 and 2010.  Personally I would not be surprised if it ends up at 10 – 15%  higher than last year. I think this also gives a little upward pressure to prices, if not this year, maybe 2012. Preliminary looks at June numbers look strong.

2.) Lake Martin lot sales in 2011 will again be strong. I think 2009 will be the bottom for lot sales, and it’s interesting to me that its bottom happened 12 months after the waterfront home sales bottomed.  If lot pricing follows home pricing behavior, then we will see that 2011 will be the year that Lake Martin waterfront lot prices stop dropping.

One Final Tidbit

I always puzzle a bit when the numbers don’t match my gut.  For the last 60 days or so something has been gnawing at me. We know that real estate prices are still low on Lake Martin.  Check.  We know that there are many waterfront homes for sale right now.  Check.  So:

Why am I having to hustle so hard on the last 3 or 4 deals I have done?

By hustle I don’t mean work in general. Not looking for pity. What I mean is that on these deals it seems like each one of them has had 2 or 3 other buyers at the sixteenth pole.

To drop the sports analogies, it seems like the “good deals” are being snapped up faster.

Am I correct? If so, that would mean that we have a high majority of homes that have been for sale for a really long time. The dogs (bad deals or junky situations) and the dreamers (sellers that are being ridiculous) are so numerous that it clouds judgement of the market as a whole.  But is that a fact?  And how can I go about proving or disproving my gut?

If anyone out there has a suggestion for metrics, please let me know.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Through April
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by  FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

 

 

 

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Lake Martin Spring 2011 Real Estate Sales Results

Lake Martin has seen strong waterfront home sales for the first four months of 2011.

Forgive me for the boring title to this post, but sometimes straightforward is better. It’s also tough to make up a headline that encompasses a four month period (January 1, 2011 – April 30, 2011).  The reason I wait so late to give the first Lake Martin MLS* real estate market report is that sales are typically low in January and February.  Plus, I around that time I am compiling the much more statistically significant 2010 year end review. This year is no exception.

I am pleased to see that the overall Lake Martin real estate market reflects my gut feeling of a very swift sales season for waterfront homes. Personally for me, and also for my fellow Lake Martin Voice Realty agent John Christenberry, 2011 has been a year of tremendous blessing thus far.  We have been able to help more buyers and sellers this year than ever before, and we thank you for that!

2011 Looks Like Another Strong Year

I read and watch a lot of so called real estate experts that predict a “double dip” – or another wave of foreclosures, or some such other phantom menace that will upend the market once again. Who knows? Maybe they are right. But one thing’s for sure – if it does happen again, we will see the fundamental market indicators start to weaken. By “fundamental market indicators” I simply mean the important statistics we all should be watching: homes sold versus last year and average prices.  We haven’t seen those indicators weaken since their low of approximately July of 2008.

Since we are in such a small real estate market here at Lake Martin can only look once a year at pricing trends in order to have any degree of certainty. And when we look at homes sold versus last year, we see a strong market.

In the first four months of 2011, 56 waterfront homes were sold through the Lake Martin MLS – this is almost 8% over the 2010 total of 52.

If you look at the waterfront home sales by month, you see that 2011 beat 2010 three out of four of those months:

Lake Martin 2011 home sale results

I realize with so many years’ worth of Lake Martin MLS sales on this graph, it’s starting to be a bit busy looking. I might drop anything pre 2008 in the future, just to make it more readable.

Here are the same monthly numbers in a chart, in case you are more of a numbers person than a graph person:

chart of lake martin alabama waterfront home sales 2011 since 2006

When you look at cumulative sales, you can see that 2011 is already way ahead of the trough year of 2008, and the comeback year of 2009:

lake martin alabama waterfront home sales

Here are the numbers, once again taken from the Lake Martin MLS and filtered for waterfront home sales only:

cumulative waterfront home sales on Lake Martin Alabama

Obviously, it is way too early in the year to say for sure that we will beat 2008 again. But at the pace that Lake Martin is on currently, and when I look on the MLS now and see how many sales are pending, I think it’s pretty safe to say that 2011 will be a good year for home sales, at least as many as 2010. And, when a market, whether we are talking about Lake Martin homes or yearling thoroughbreds, beats the previous year, that’s the definition of a rising market.

Number Of Waterfront Homes For Sale On Lake Martin

Over the last six months Lake Martin has seen the typical, seasonal rise and fall of homes on the MLS that are “Active” – aka For Sale. At April 30, 2011, that number stood just under 500.

lake martin alabama active listings

It’s a total guess, but my feeling is that we will peak out at the low to mid 500s in 2011. We don’t have any big condo projects that are about to dump a lot of units on the market at once, that I know of.

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Sales

As of April 30, 2011 has been the best year for waterfront lot sales since 2006 at Lake Martin.

lake martin waterfront lot sales

A total of 15 waterfront lots have been sold on Lake Martin in 2011, through April 30.

lake martin waterfront lot sales

In short, it looks like 2011 will be another good year for Lake Martin real estate.  Barring a huge blip in the road, we look to avoid the low of 2008 and continue to look like a post real estate bubble market.

I am not sure what kind of evidence people need to finally move past the mentality that we are in a crisis market. If three straight years of strong sales don’t do it, what will?

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Waterfront Lots
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

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Lake Martin Homes for Fifty Cents on the Dollar?

A Lake Martin Foreclosure Update

If a cliche gets repeated enough, it becomes empty and loses all meaning.  Every male whitetail that we see on the side of the road – especially during hunting season – is an 8 point buck.  I’ve never heard different – “Dude,  I was driving home last night and I saw this huge 8 point.”  Never a 6.  Or “I’m not sure.”

Almost every police briefing I’ve ever seen opens with “At this time” and repeats it several times. “At this time we are searching,” or “At this time we are asking,”  or “At this time we have in custody.”  Of course it is at this time.

Screen shot 2011-05-09 at 12.30.39 PM“(So and so is) here for the right reasons” – you hear this a lot during recruiting season. Coaches are always so happy because every single player that committed did so “for the right reasons.”  All their coaching staff is there “for the right reasons.” Consider the opposite – how helpful would it be to announce that you plan to NOT recruit kids who want to be there for the WRONG reasons. You also hear it a lot on these silly reality shows like the Bachelor.  I am sure that you, dear intellectual reader, do not stoop to watch such drivel, so I will let you know that I have heard that every single bachelor since Season One is in earnest search for ladies who are “here for the right reasons.”

That’s a long intro to get to Lake Martin foreclosures.

I bring in these cliches at this time for the right reasons.

Twice this week I have heard a Lake Martin foreclosure cliche.  Buyers often ask:

Aren’t Lake Martin foreclosures selling for fifty cents on the dollar?”

(I could riff on the minutiae of this forever.  It’s never expressed as fifty percent of anything. Or half of anything.  It’s always fifty cents on the dollar.  And never 53 cents.  Never 47 cents.)

Screen shot 2011-05-10 at 2.43.03 PMSo can you buy a Lake Martin waterfront home for half price?  My answer is: “Yes and no.” It depends on what you are calculating. Fifty percent of current listing price? Fifty percent of the original listing price? Or fifty percent of what the builder hoped it would sell for in 2007?”

I hear,  “Well,  I know for a fact my cousin bought a home in Tallahassee last year,  and he told me it sold for fifty cents on the dollar.”

Pause the conversation – let me say here that I cannot blame a buyer one bit for wanting an extremely good deal. If my cousin told me this, or if I saw it on the Today show, I would get my hopes up too.

My job as a responsible Lake Martin real estate agent is to help buyers gather accurate information.  I don’t ask these questions to cross examine or doubt them, but to examine the information from which they are making assumptions.  Once I start asking questions, if they are working with a real world example of their cousin (instead of just the Today show), the more questions I ask, the more realistic it gets. “Well, he bought his foreclosure in Mediumburg for 150,000 and I know that’s different than Lake Martin.  Well, yes, the listing price from the bank was only $200,000.  But three years before that, the builder was asking $300,000.”

OK – I see.  In a certain manner, I can see the fifty cents on the dollar with that example.  Furthermore, I can point to many examples like that with Lake Martin foreclosures on waterfront homes.  But, if a waterfront home has already been foreclosed upon, it is pretty rare to sell for fifty percent of the current listing price.

I suppose I could, if I wanted, advertise similar deals going on in the Lake Martin real estate: Lake homes for 50% off! I would have to put in real tiny print “As compared to the wishful thinking listing price of 2007.”

(I can think of several bank stocks that I used to own that I wish still would sell for what they did in 2007.)

That’s why, whether I am helping buyers or sellers, I try to help them concentrate on today’s prices.  Today’s situation.  Forget yesterday.  It doesn’t matter if you are trying to buy a foreclosure, or competing to sell against one.  It’s all the same.Screen shot 2011-05-10 at 2.36.57 PM

Buyers want a good deal.  Same as always.  Sellers want the best deal for their home.  Same as always.

The Lake Martin real estate market is still seeing some new foreclosures on waterfront homes, condos, and lots.  There hasn’t been a flood, or a second wave, or anything like that.  Taken as a percent of market, we still don’t have as many foreclosures as compared to the rest of the nation.

The foreclosures, short sales, and conventional sellers that we do have on Lake Martin are enough to effect the market, though.  Supply and demand.

Would You Like Our List Of Lake Martin Foreclosures?

Click here and fill out the form.

Do you own a waterfront home, lot, or condo on Lake Martin, and are wondering what it might be worth? Contact us here or at 334 221 5862 and we can work you up a free, no hassle, no obligation Comparable Market Analysis.

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