Archive for the 'Lake Martin Area Info' Category

Lake Martin House Rental Tips

I’m getting a lot of calls and emails these days from folks wanting to rent a vacation home on Lake Martin.  Well, my company doesn’t do rentals, only sales, so I send callers to VRBO.com and lakemartin.com.  There are also a few real estate companies around the lake that manage rentals.

Lake Martin Voice Realty friend, Wayne, and his family have gone through the Lake Martin rental process a number of times, successfully.  I thought I’d let them share their advice with you, so check out their video below . . .

If you’re not very familiar with Lake Martin and want a better feel for the different parts of the lake, and the lifestyle you’re after, renting is great idea.  After you’ve rented a home, and you’ve fallen in love with Lake Martin, give me a call and I’ll help find you something permanent: (334) 221-5862.

Buyers – remember that I can show you any home in the Lake Martin MLS, no matter who has it listed.  The seller pays my commission, so it costs you nothing to let me help!

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Parker Creek “Neighborhood” on Lake Martin

When searching for waterfront homes in the Lake Martin MLS, you are bound to come across one of the areas on Lake Martin called Parker CreekParker Creek is not a formal neighborhood – it describes a very large area located on the northwest side of Lake Martin.  It is in Coosa County, Alabama, and accessed by Coosa County roads.  It gets its name from, you guessed it, Parker Creek, that once flowed into Big Kowaliga Creek before Martin Dam was constructed.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in the Parker Creek area, CLICK HERE to go to my Parker Creek Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Now, what you see in the map above includes a lot more than Parker Creek.  When you use my website to search the MLS for current homes for sale in Parker Creek, you’ll notice I’ve also included Oakachoy Creek past the Narrows, The Needles Eye, and Pitchford Hollow. My fellow locals, especially, will call me crazy for including these micro-areas in a Parker Creek search. I agree, they are not technically on Parker Creek, but they are close enough. And I can’t break these searches into every tiny slough and hollow or I would have a million Neighborhood Pages for Lake Martin. Basically this search catches every waterfront home and lot that is north of Sand Island and not in Willow Point. If you are relatively new to Lake Martin, you won’t care about this trivia. Sticklers, please forgive me and see the above map.

As one of the older areas that were developed on Lake Martin, you’ll see large homes with character, and smaller homes built with fun on the lake in mind. This is because most of this land was once owned by Alabama Power who leased the land to homeowners who then built their own improvements.  This program lasted from the 1950s to 1970s and resulted in a lot of little fish camp, rustic style homes. Then Alabama Power, over the course of many years, started selling each homeowner the lots underneath their waterfront homes. The Parker Creek area saw a renaissance of building as more people invested more heavily into their homes.

Parker Creek  has slowly populated over time to include tiny cabins that are next to million dollar homes. There are no official neighborhoods here, but there are lots of small, winding county roads, both paved and dirt. 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.)

Parker Creek Marina is located on the south side of the Parker Creek and has a gas dock, dry boat storage, ship’s store, and service facility. It’s independently owned, and is perfect for boat owners and their needs. Many people from the Little Kowaliga / Real Island area also use Parker Creek Marina since it’s so close to them by car.

Just like any waterfront home, lot, or condo on Lake Martin, I can help you with it, regardless of who has it listed. I would love to be your real estate agent. CLICK HERE to contact me, or you can email me (info @ lakemartinvoice . com), or you can call me at (334) 221-5862.

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Little Kowaliga “Neighborhood” on Lake Martin

Ok, so the Little Kowaliga area is not technically a neighborhood; rather it is a geographic area of waterfront homes on Lake Martin.  It’s a way to talk about that branch of Lake Martin on the west side of the lake, north of Kowaliga Bridge, and around the corner west of Sinclair’s and Kowaliga Marina.  Some people that grew up here or have had cabins on Lake Martin for 40 years may even argue with me for calling it Little Kowaliga.  Lots of people refer to this area as the Real Island area, because Real Island Marina is the oldest marina in this area.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in the Little Kowaliga area, CLICK HERE to go to my Little Kowaliga Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

The reason it’s called Little Kowaliga is because Little Kowaliga Creek once ran here before the lake was created by Martin Dam.  It is close to Montgomery, and traditionally a lot of Montgomery families have had cabins in this area.

There aren’t really any formal neighborhoods in Little Kowaliga – no gated entrances with formal signs, no neighborhood pools, etc.  Most waterfront homes in this area are located off of county roads.  This is a section of Lake Martin where you can have a trailer next to a two million dollar home.  It is similar to Parker Creek in that 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.

Driving directions and addresses can be wacky in this area.  The county line separating Elmore and Coosa counties runs through Little Kowaliga, so you can have homes in the town of Equality that can be in either Elmore or Coosa County.  As you drive the road on the north side of Little Kowaliga, road signs can switch from Elmore County to Coosa County, and then back again.  Google Maps and GPS’s still haven’t figured out many of the streets, so it pays to combine them with a good physical map of Lake Martin, and good directions from a homeowner.  Hancel Road, for example, is a road that runs in and out of both counties, and is spelled 3 or 4 different ways by street signs, Google, the MLS, and GPS’s.

If you’re looking for the “lake cabin at the end of the dirt road” experience, the Little Kowaliga area might be a good fit.  To see homes currently for sale in the Little Kowaliga area, CLICK HERE I’d love to help you find your Lake Martin home – in Little Kowaliga or anywhere on Lake Martin. Remember, I can help you with any property in the Lake Martin MLS, and it doesn’t cost the buyer a dime to have a realtor help you with your research and purchase.  The sellers pay my commission. 

If I can help, give me a call at (334) 221-5862, or email me by CLICKING HERE.

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Kowaliga Bay Neighborhood Tour on Lake Martin

Kowaliga Bay is one of the biggest water areas on Lake Martin.

It runs west to east, from the confluence of the old Little Kowaliga and Big Kowaliga Creeks, all the way to Martin Dam. If that doesn’t help you, think about the area where Sand Island’s water (that’s Big Kowaliga) meets Real Island’s water (that’s Little Kowaliga).  From there, going east under Kowaliga Bridge, all the way to the dam is Kowaliga Bay.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in the Kowaliga Bay area, CLICK HERE to go to my Kowaliga Bay Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Kowaliga Bay a large area that has been developed over time, so there is a huge variety of homes, lots, and property values here.  Kowaliga Bay is also home to a lot of the original Russell rental cabins – those old school green cabins you see on the great lots.  Ever heard the Hank Williams song, “Kaw-Liga?”  Yep – written in a cabin on this part of Lake Martin.

Landmarks in/near this area of Lake Martin include Church in the Pines and Sinclairs at the Lake (restaurant) to the north, Children’s Harbor (the lighthouse), the Lake Martin Amphitheater, Anchor Bay Marina, the Dixie Sailing Club, and, of course, Kowaliga Bridge.  If you’re coming from the west side of the lake by boat, you drive through it to get to Chimney Rock.  If you’re coming from the east side of the lake headed to Aquapalooza, you pass through it as well.

If you’d like to know more about the Kowaliga Bay area, or have questions about a specific home for sale in this area, give me a call.  I can show you any home in the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of who has it listed, and I would love to be your Lake Martin realtor.

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Spring Break at the Lake Part 3: Tour of Martin Dam

For almost 40 years I’ve enjoyed the pleasures of Lake Martin, but I’ve never given much thought to the reason for all the fun: Martin Dam.  These days, as the dam goes, so goes my livelihood, so it’s now important to me on many levels.  Plus, I’m the Science Olympiad guy who likes tours and turbines and rooms with lights and switches. Throw in a little history it’s a home run.  It was time to go.

Before 9/11, you could just show up and get a tour, but these days you have to schedule it in advance.  We had no luck finding a direct Martin Dam phone number, so we contacted Alabama Power through the “Contact Us” tab at the top of their website and typed out our message in the email contact box.  Two or so days later we got a response, and the next week we were at the east gate, ready to get started.  Lesson – plan your tour about a week in advance.  If you want to schedule a dam tour, contact Alabama Power by CLICKING HERE.

The guard who gave us our tour was very nice. He was extremely patient with our large crowd of kids and answered all of our questions expertly.

Like I say above, I’m just a Realtor, so I can’t help you book a tour

I can help you BUY or SELL your Lake Martin home, though, so give me a call at (334) 221-5862 and let’s talk.

[Edited: Sept. 11, 2012 – if you’re looking for my video, sorry! I took it down. Apparently I was not supposed to be filming while we toured. My bad! I must have missed that in the pre-tour briefing. However, don’t let my goof up keep you from your own tour! My kids still talk about it five months later, and it was a real treat for me as an Alex City native to finally check it out. It truly was a highlight of our Spring Break and I plan to do it again soon.]

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To Be a Good House Hunter, Know Thyself

I wrote the following article for the March 2012 edition of LAKE Magazine:

“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” John Calvin, 1559.

“Buyers are liars.” – Worn out real estate agents’ cliché.

Buyers Is that true? Are buyers liars that tell you they want one thing and then choose another? Or are they simpletons, to be led around by the nose like a bullock, and told what they want by an all-knowing agent?

Obviously, neither is true. So why then, in most buying experiences on Lake Martin, do home buyers end up not buying the first home they visit? Why do they have to look around and weigh their options?

I think it’s because each buyer must “know thyself.” Buyers need to research the market as much as possible and, during that process, they need to look inside themselves to discover what they really want in a lake home. If you have an unlimited budget, you can totally disregard this article. Most people do have a budget; most people have limits. Limitations mean tradeoffs.

I guess the concept of tradeoffs exists in any real estate market. Maybe in some markets, for example, if you want a new home and you want to be in a certain school district, you have to accept a tradeoff. At Lake Martin, the decision I see many buyers struggle to make is the home versus the lot.

Many times buyers must decide: do I want a bigger or newer home on a smaller lot with less privacy or waterfront, or do I want an older or smaller home on a bigger or more private lot? The difficulty comes in defining the adjectives. One person’s big is another person’s small. Some buyers can find privacy in the most cramped condominiums and others need to feel like they are the only ones on the lake.

I call this the “Home / Lot Continuum.” Imagine a line graph like we drew in high school. On one extreme is the person that loves the house and does not care one whit about the lot. The other extreme is a person who values the lot above all else and totally disregards what is built on it. Most people don’t fit in the extremes, instead finding themselves somewhere along the line. What about you? If you are pretty fairly balanced, which way do you lean?

These are the sorts of questions you need to ask yourself in the home buying process. The more you know about yourself and your preference on the home versus lot issue, the more easily you will be able to decide between two homes with the same price yet varying degrees of home and lot quality.

So how should you go about increasing the knowledge of thyself? Here are three ways:

Research online

Most of us Lake Martin realtors have websites with access to the Lake Martin MLS. Go to one and search in your price range, paying careful attention to viewing all available pictures and videos of the properties. Also, our MLS has a mapping feature that allows you to go to a Google Map showing you the location of the home or lot. Click on the satellite view and zoom in as tight as possible to check it thoroughly. This will allow you to get past the sometimes-fuzzy agent descriptions of “cute house” that is “recently updated” on a “private lot.” You can see for yourself how cute is cute, how private is private. Do they define “recent” as the disco decade? Judge for yourself.

Look In Person

I realize that most of the time this will involve talking to a realtor, which is the last thing most buyers want to do. I regret to break the news to you, at some point it is unavoidable. There is no substitute for being there yourself. I have walked down to the water on many lots that were described as “gently sloping” in the MLS, only to find myself huffing and puffing on the way back up. What did they mean by gently? What would they call steep? Sometimes the only way to know whether you want a short walk to the lake is to go and try it out.

Rent For The Weekend

If you are not ready to look with an agent, you should come spend some time at the lake. You can call it market research, but it is really just hanging out and having fun. Impose on one of your friends for a weekend vacation. If you don’t have a friend with a lake house, get better friends. Seriously, you can rent a home here and that will give you an idea about how you plan to experience the lake. You might find that your favorite lake moments are the quiet hours in the morning with a cup of coffee. Or, you might realize that boating is your thing. Does each of your family members need their own bedroom, or can you pile them in like alligators? While you probably won’t be able to test out a home that is for sale, your renting experience will give you a good idea of how you plan to use a lake house, and therefore shape your priorities.

Follow these suggestions and know thyself well to find your perfect lake home.

Or, maybe you will know it when you see it. I didn’t know I wanted a white miniature poodle until a stray one ambled up in my yard.

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Paddle Boarding At Lake Martin

Have you ever ridden on a paddle board, on Lake Martin or elsewhere?

I haven’t, but I seem to be among a dwindling minority.

This blog post was inspired by a recent announcement by my friends at Lake Martin Dock Company.  They posted on their Facebook page that they are now a dealer for Bote Boards – a stand up paddle board company out of Destin.  Bote Boards look cool to me because several of their models are designed for fishing.  There are little holes or slots in the top of the board in which you insert a stand.  As a fly fisherman, this makes me want one to try out the paddle and fish thing.  Have fun while getting a workout!

Stand up paddling is supposed to be great exercise, especially for the core.  I first heard about stand up paddling (SUP) from the Paddle Board race that Yolo put on with Bay Pine Marina.  Ever since I read this article I have wanted to try it out.

PhotobucketHow about it? Has anyone out there tried fishing from a paddle board on Lake Martin yet? 

What about the ultimate combination: on a paddle board, hooking into a big striper, while fly fishing, on the lake?  Anyone? Anyone?

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New Birding Trail Opens In Lake Martin Area

Piedmont Birding Trail At Horseshoe Bend Park  - 06 - Version 2The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail officially opened on November 17 with a nice ceremony held at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.

The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail is the central Alabama version of the popular birding trails like the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail and the North Alabama Birding Trail.

What is a birding trail?

A birding trail is a collection of locations where bird lovers and other folks can go to observe some of Alabama’s renowned diversity of bird species.  The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail is organized into three “loops.”

The Lake Martin Loop, obviously, is the part of the trail that will be closest to Lake Martin. Some of the observation points are directly on the water of the lake, such as the DARE Park and the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail head.  Others will take you off the water, but to nonetheless interesting spots like Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.

The new trail has already earned some attention.  Deborah Storey covered it in this Hunstville Times article.

Piedmont Birding Trail At Horseshoe Bend Park  - 25For what it is worth, I think this is an outstanding idea and brilliant marketing on the part of the various Chambers of Commerce that worked together to get this done.  I congratulate the Alexander City Chamber for taking the lead on it.  Even if you are not a “birder” – you should realize that birding related tourism is a really big business, and Alabama is a mecca.

Furthermore, it offers yet another thing to do off of the water for people who love Lake Martin.  Fall is the time of year that I think gives you the best chance to hike, bike, and explore the area around the lake.

Speaking of things to do, how many of you have never been to Horseshoe Bend National Military Park?  Why not? It is only about 10 miles off of highway 280 between Dadeville and Alex City.  The dedication ceremony gave me a perfect excuse to tour through it again. When I was growing up, we had oodles of school trips out there.  As a child, I never appreciated the sheer beauty of that park, nor did I grasp the historical significance of a battle that shaped the destinies of millions of acres of land, entire nations of native Americans, and at least one President.  (Hint: check a $5 bill).

After my tour the other day, I was really getting my nature, my history, and my local pride groove on.  I went wild in the Park’s gift shop, buying several (my wife rolled her eyes) books about The Battle, this area’s history, and nature.  My fellow nerds will please note I added them to my Lake Martin Voice Library.  Check them out, they are excellent reads.

To see my other pictures of the opening of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, and Horseshoe Bend Park in general, please see:

Flickr Photo Set by Lake Martin Voice
Piedmont Birding Trail At Horseshoe Bend Park  - 46

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My Barber Gives Cuts And Google Earth Tips

As a Lake Martin realtor, I am often guilty of a one track mind.  I constantly bend every experience, every encounter in my life back to Lake Martin real estate.  I admit it.  So forgive me if you think this is stretching, but..

The other day I was early for my haircut appointment.  My barber had another gentleman in the chair, snipping away.  It’s a one chair “salon,” so I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.

It was about Google Earth.

What?  Yes.

El barbero, or master hair cutter (I think of him as the guy who has the misfortune of dealing with my ‘fro once a month), was trading Google Earth tips with his patron.

He is in his mid 50s.  The customer is 70.

They were going back and forth with nuggets of wisdom about the online mapping service.  I was listening pretty hard as I am a Google Earth newbie.  They were talking about how easy it is to create custom maps, spots, and the like.

If they wouldn’t have thought me creepy, I would have videoed it on my iPhone.

It just goes to show you that this whole “internet” thing isn’t just for young people, unless you define young as under 80.  These results are typical.

A Thank You Note To YouTube

2011, in my mind, will be the year that I should write YouTube a thank you note.  I do a lot of online marketing on Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Flickr, and the like.  But my videos on Youtube are a huge blessing and are, pound for pound, the best return on my efforts aside from this blog.

“That’s great, John,” you may say.  “But the only people watching videos on YouTube are kids.”

Wrong.

We at Lake Martin Voice Realty have uploaded so many videos about Lake Martin real estate, area events, restaurants, marinas, etc., that we have had almost 86,000 views of them at this writing.  Phenomenal, and we have you to thank.  We have uploaded over 200 of them.  My average video length is about 3 minutes so that is 258,000 minutes that people have spent watching.  Amazing and humbling.

86,000 – that is more than a couple of national real estate brands have.  Check me out and see if I am wrong.  Go to the YouTube channels of any national brand and see how many views they have.  Then compare it to ours, and keep in mind that we (currently) have two agents doing all of this.

When you get that many views, YouTube starts courting you and asking you to put ads on your videos.  They also give you perks like being able to see your demographics.

Check out the age range of who is watching my videos:

Observe that over 60% of my video views come from people that are 45 and older. Amazingly, more views come from people 55 and older than do those who are younger than 35.

And that’s a good thing.  This is proof positive that I am hitting the sweet spot, demographically.  Well, I take that back.  The ultimate proof is when I hear from buyers that call me and say, “hey, I saw one of your videos on…” or a seller that says “I love your video home tours.”

Thank you, I still need your help

I thank the Lord, and also you, dear reader and viewer, for the eye popping numbers.  But I still need some help from you.

What do you like to watch or read about?

I have noticed that my highest read blog posts and most highly watched videos are on subjects that were originally suggested by readers.  So please, please, keep those suggestions coming.  Please contact me through this form or directly at [email protected] or [email protected]

Also – how can I increase my female viewership on YouTube?

Thanks!

 

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Tornado Recovery Action Council To Meet At Children’s Harbor

The Tornado Recovery Action Council comes to the Lake Martin area with a meeting at Children’s Harbor.  The meeting is on Monday, September 26, 2011, at 6:30 PM.

Their stated purpose is: “building a better Alabama and preparing for future disasters.”

They want to hear feedback from people in the Lake Martin area who were affected by the April 2011 tornado.

For more information about this meeting, please contact the TRAC directly through their website: TRACalabama.org

Here is their flyer:

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