Lake Martin Voice Realty
Archive for the 'Lake Martin Area Info' Category
Is Lake Martin’s full pool 490 or 491? I get some of the best ideas for blog posts from my readers and buyers around Lake Martin. Recently someone emailed me with a question regarding the new rule curve for Lake Martin and I thought I’d answer it here.
Q: I recently read your article on the Lake Martin Voice site about the winter lake level going to 483 feet instead of 480 feet as in previous years. Lower down the page in your web site article, you have posted a link to the Alabama Power announcement made in April of 2015 for this new low lake level policy. In the Alabama Power news release article, it states the new low lake level is going to be 484 feet during the winter draw down time. It states also that the technical high lake level is 491 feet in that same Alabama Power April 2015 news release/announcement.
Please let me know what your final understanding is on the new low lake level height. You may want to clarify this subject on your site.
A: The one foot difference is the difference between the unit of measure you use. It’s a difference of “sea level” and “martin datum.” The new level in winter is going to be seven feet below full pool. That’s for sure. Whether you call full pool 490 or 491 will depend on whether you call winter pool 483 or 484. Either way it’s a seven foot drop. Most of the current technical Alabama Power papers refer to full pool as 491. However they also refer to full pool as 490 on their app – Alabama Power Shorelines. Full pool at 490 is what most everyone around here uses, so that’s the unit of measure I use when I talk about full pool. Both are correct. And both yield a seven foot drop in the future.
Interested in the current Lake Martin water level? Or Lake Martin area weather? Also want to keep up with events from around the lake, places to eat, homes and lots for sale, where to shop, marinas around the lake, places to have fun, and more? Check out the Lake Martin Voice app!
The Lake Martin Voice App is available at the Apple App store here: Apple Store Link
The Lake Martin Voice App is also available for Google / Android on the Google Play Store
I am really honored to be a regular columnist for Lake Magazine. They asked me to write about the future of Lake Martin and the new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license. To read the article on their site Click Here, or feel free to read:
The wait is over. We knew it was coming. That was made clear back in April of 2015, but until we got the real copy of the FERC license in our (digital) hands, we did not dare strut too much. Now we know the reality – for the next 30 years, as long as the Lord God sends enough rain, Lake Martin will only drop 7 feet in the winter as opposed to 10. Plus, we will have a chance to keep the tub full until Oct. 15 instead of pulling the plug after Labor Day.
We at Lake Martin can now settle back and confidently plan how the next 30 years will be. 30 years! That’s practically a generation. I think the best way to consider this new license is to think about its long-term effects – effects that will come to bloom and blossom over a generation. As I have written previously, the new rule curve will only serve to improve Lake Martin and therefore our entire community and economy. This help, I think, seems pretty obvious to anyone that scans the new license. For an article from the Alabama Power Company Shorelines blog about the new license click here.
As I review the new FERC license, the first thing to grab my attention was a mention of those previous. The original one for Martin Dam started in 1923 and lasted 50 years. The next period was a 40-year license that started in 1973. So we are starting only our third license. Martin Dam 3.0. When you put it like that, it makes the lake seem pretty young, but in reality, radical change has come here since the start of our last license in 1973.
Looking at the big picture, I would say that the biggest change agent since 1973 was the development of private property. Prior to 1973, there weren’t many places on Lake Martin where you could own your own lot and home. Think about it – Russell Lands, the lake’s largest private landowner and developer, had only recently started Willow Point, its first venture. Alabama Power, the other big landowner, had sold very few, if any, lots. In the 1970s, if you had a cabin on Lake Martin, most likely it was the short-term rental of an Old Testament Russell Cabin or you owned your home but leased the lot from Alabama Power.
When you’re a renter, or at least a quasi-renter, there is little or no economic incentive to improve it.
As ownership spread in the 1980s and 1990s, so did the by products of ownership – stores, phone lines, garbage service and Internet. In the 2000s, it just kept going to include issues like environmental advocacy. Do you care as much about the water quality of a place that you rent casually? Or do you really start paying attention when you are an owner?
What new factor will play a big role in the next 30 years? It is hard for me to say. If I were forced to guess I would say it will be the rise of the Lake Martin investor. An investor can be someone that rents the property 100 percent of the time, or maybe a minority of the time. Yes, there are some owners that rent their properties out right now, but not that many when you compare us to the beach, etc. Why?
I think it is because of the relative novelty of the Lake Martin home ownership support industry. I don’t think this is an actual term, so I will try to define what I am saying.
As uptown as Lake Martin has become in the last 15 years, we are still in our infancy of companies that help one own a home, condo or lot here. Remember that about 80 percent of waterfront homeowners are not living here full time. In other second home markets, like the beach or the mountains, there are plenty of companies that will do more than just come by and cut your grass. There are entire businesses dedicated to concierge services, such as checking on your home’s condition every couple of weeks, or helping you light your hot water heater’s pilot light, or filling your kitchen full of groceries so you don’t have to shop before you come. Sure, these services might cost a bit, but for many people it will ease some of the worries of owning a second home that’s three hours from their primary residence.
When something is easier to own, it creates more demand. More demand helps prices. Higher purchase prices mean more people will also want to rent from you. It’s easier to rent your home when you have a concierge company that can help you winterize it when you need to, or change a bulb, or replace a sofa.
Will concierge companies totally change Lake Martin and usher in a significant number of Lake Martin investors? Who knows what will happen. But I do think that as Lake Martin becomes more popular in the next 30 years, we certainly will see more of them. And, I think that Lake Martin’s competitiveness versus other second home markets will be largely determined by support industries and the like. Just as the rise of the homeowner was a huge influence on the second license period, the rise of the investor could well be a big factor in the third.
And by the way, for those that might be worried about over development ruining Lake Martin, take heart. There are oodles of restrictions that the new license puts on Alabama Power. Even if the power company were not committed to responsible stewardship of Lake Martin (which it is), the new license is very specific about the use of about every inch of our waterfront.
Whether you are a renter, owner, investor, worker, boater or just a fan of Lake Martin, the next 30 years will be fun. Lord willing, I can’t wait to see how it will unfold!
The missing piece of what puzzle you may ask? The Coffee Corner located at 107 Main Street in historic downtown Alex City was the winner of the first ever MainStreet Alexander City Missing Piece Business Competition. The contest, sponsored by the downtown merchants organization was awarded to The Coffee Corner in summer 2015. To read more about this new restaurant and the Missing Piece competition check out these links.
I shot the video (above) in December, hence our reference to Christmas, but this is a good idea for a gift card any time of the year.
I like this spot and decided that the Cafe’ Au Lait is my favorite. They are fully open now and serving breakfast and lunch too. Please go by and enjoy coffee, a sandwich or salad.
Located at the corner of Main Street and Alabama Street in historic downtown Alex City – for a map click here.
To keep up with their latest events, daily brew or new additions to the menu (the Oreo Delight frappe’ looks soooo good) check out their Facebook page or call them at 256-392-4999.
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.
FERC has officially issued Alabama Power a new 30 year license to operate Martin Dam. This is great news, but we knew it was coming. If you have been watching this for a while, you know that Lake Martin was given the word back in April of 2015 that their application was approved.
When we heard the application was approved, we at Lake Martin were extremely excited, because it meant that the new water levels were approved. The new winter water low will be 483′ – a mere seven foot drop as opposed to the ten feet that we have had for a generation.
Also, we have a conditional fall full pool period. In English – that means, provided we have the rainfall, the lake will be full pool (490) until October 15, instead of day after Labor Day rule of old.
I highly recommend reading the actual license. It is pretty long, but it gives me a slight idea of the tedium involved in the process. As an unashamed bird nerd, I got hung up on the part about red cockaded woodpeckers for about 45 minutes. There are so many other parts of it that are really interesting that I plan to cover more deeply later.
If you would like to dig into the original, here it is: FERC LICENSE
Here’s the press release from Alabama Power: FERC License for Martin
Here’s an article from the Alex City Outlook: License Issued
Like I said, we knew this was coming, so it’s not like it’s a complete surprise. It’s kind of like waiting for Christmas. You know it will finally get here, but when it does, you think, “Finally!”
If you would like to read more history about the water level at Lake Martin, please see this link, here’s everything I have written on my blog since 2007: Water Level
If this has spurred you to buy or sell a piece of waterfront real estate on Lake Martin, please call me at the number at the top of this page. Or, you can email me here: Contact.
I am a full time realtor here at Lake Martin and would love to help out.
Kowaliga Kevin, the canine prognosticator of Lake Martin, has predicted six more weeks of summer for our beautiful lake.
Famous world over for his accurate weather prediction, Kowaliga Kevin has long been relied upon to let lake area residents know whether to pack up the boat and water toys or to enjoy more lake time. This year he has once again satisfied everyone by predicting another stretch of great weather.
“I know I usually go thorough this rigamarole with exiting the boat bathroom and whatnot,” said Kevin, alluding to his groundhog-esque Pomp and Circumstance. “But hey, this year it’s so obvious I really don’t have to trot out that old pony. I mean, it’s seventy-eight degrees and the water is perfect. Do you really need me to tell you it’s awesome?”
The shedding of the dramatic was a surprise to veteran Kevin watchers as he has heretofore shown a penchant for showmanship. Speaking from his headquarters, with his self portrait looming behind him, he added, “I’ve got another six weeks to enjoy the waters of Lake Martin. I’m not going to waste it by posing for you guys.”
When asked about rumors that Kevin was almost replaced by a “Frost” last year and a “JoJo” this year, he retorted, “Please. Those guys are losers. To quote Ric Flair, ‘if you wanna be tha man, you gotta beat tha man.’ Everyone knows I am the bull of these woods. I’m not worried about any pound puppy upstarts. I am not only A pro, I am The Pro.”
Though his delivery may be brusque, this is great news. Six more weeks of summer for Lake Martin!
A Lake Martin Leased Lot waterfront home is becoming an increasingly rare bird in our real estate market.
If you’re new to searching the Lake Martin MLS, you might have noticed a field in the information sheet that looks like this: Deeded: Deeded or Deeded: Leased. This is shorthand. If we had more room, it would probably look like: Is This Lot Deeded or Leased? and then have the answer either Deeded or Leased.
What is a leased lot home on Lake Martin?
A fair question. It’s a home where the seller is owns and is selling the improvements only, but they don’t own the land underneath it. They lease the land, usually from Alabama Power. Historically leased lot homes are less than 10% of overall sales. For more information, see the Leased Lot category of my blog.
Why are leased lot homes becoming more rare on Lake Martin?
About two or three years ago, Alabama Power began selling some of the homeowners the lots which they lease. Mind you, this was not Alabama Power opening up new lots to lease or sell, this was them contacting homeowners on existing leased lots, and saying, in essence, “hey, do you want to buy this lot at $X?” Because of this (relatively) new phenomenon, we Lake Martin agents are seeing fewer waterfront leased lot homes for sale on the market. Those that are on the market usually have an option to buy the lot. Often, you’ll see this noted in the (super secret) Agent Notes section of the Lake Martin MLS.
Recently, I had a buyer ask me about how one goes about purchasing a leased lot home with an option to buy the lot.
His Q: Is being able to secure purchase of the lot a reasonable contingency on a contract for the house? Would both transactions be handled together at one closing and with one mortgage or would they have to be separate?
“Excellent questions, I have closed a couple this way:
1.) That’s an absolutely reasonable contingency. In fact, I as your agent would insist on such a contingency, broadly worded like “contingent upon buyer’s obtaining an acceptable contract with Alabama Property company to purchase Lot X for $yyy,yyy and acceptable review of all lease documents.” The idea here is that if you can’t buy it for what you want, you’re out of there.
2.) closing at one time is doable. I have had one where technically it was two closings but they happened at the same time, where you sat down at the table and signed a bunch of docs to buy the lot first and then a bunch of docs to buy them all together. But it felt like one closing. I can recommend lenders around Lake Martin that are used to this concept. I would not recommend getting lenders from out of town because they have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept. No slight against them, it is admittedly a weird concept and if I hadn’t seen it at Lake Martin I would know nothing of it myself. In fact, growing up here I didn’t know anything about it, it wasn’t until I started selling real estate that I learned about it.
FYI here’s everything I have ever written about leased lots: Leased
It’s a little outdated because of the above but it hopefully gives you a decent background.
Do you have any questions about Lake Martin real estate? If so, please email me with this form or : info (at) lakemartinvoice (dot) com!
The Alex City SunFestival is a week long series of events coordinated by the Alex City Chamber of Commerce. It is a variety of things from hikes to downtown dancing! There is truly something for everyone. This is the third year of the festival. The Chamber has lined up a lot of local sponsors, and the entire community is involved.
For a complete schedule, see their website:
You can also see their Facebook Page here.
I think this is a great idea and it is really well done. Most of the events are free, but the week culminates in a Fireworks show and concert on July 25th by David Nail.
Here are the details:
This ticket will also get you into the Sun Festival Tailgate & BBQ Cook-off starting at 12:00Noon. 7:00pm Band Battle Winner 8:30pm David Nail 10:00pm Fireworks You will need a printed copy of your ticket to exchange for a wristband that will give you full access to all of the day’s activities at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex. You can bring your ticket to the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce to get your wristband or pick it up the day of the event.
I am putting some, not all, of the events on my Lake Martin Voice App.
Once again, congratulations to the Chamber and everyone in the Lake Martin area that has stepped up and made this week great!
Amy is the broker and owner of Amy Clark Real Estate. Amy’s contact info is:
Amy Clark Real Estate, Inc.
1994 Cherokee Road
Alexander City, AL 35010
Amy is a great real estate agent and friend. She has been a very loyal member of the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors for years, and has served in just about every office there is. Amy is also a hard working, good person, and I am so happy for her that she and her husband and fellow agent Todd were featured on HGTV. Please tune in to watch!
- Sunday May 3 at 7:30 pm CST
- Monday May 4 at 2:30 am CST
- Friday May 8 at 1:30 pm CST
Here’s the link on HGTV’s site: Lakefront Bargain Hunt
We are pleased to announce a brand new free app for the Lake Martin area! The Lake Martin Voice app is your mobile guide to the Lake Martin, Alabama, area. We offer mobile waterfront real estate search and events, mapped guides to restaurants (with menus), shops, weather, and much more!
As you can see above, the different tabs you can click through to navigate and learn more about what’s near you or happening at the lake are:
- Homes – every single home & lot for sale in the Lake Martin MLS, at your fingertips. Use our fast searches like “New Listings” or “Price Drops” or create your own custom search. Cruise by boat and see what’s for sale around you if you share your location with the app.
- Eats – Restaurants on and off the water around Lake Martin, mapped, with menus
- Events – what’s going on this week? Next month? Click and scroll to find out.
- Fun – Other things to do like where to hike, where to bike, boat ramps, golf courses, churches, and more.
- Weather & Water – conditions right now at Lake Martin.
- Marinas – mapped locations of all Marinas, plus contact info. Share your location with the app and see where you are, too!
- Shops – retail therapy locations on and off water
- News – the skinny on Lake Martin stuff
For example, here’s what the “Eats” section looks like. If you share your location, you can see where you are in relation to the restaurants. I snapped this screen shot when I was over on the east side of Lake Martin. If you want to browse around the map, you can. Or, if you want to scroll through the list at the bottom, you can do that to. Your call!
The Shops, Eats, and Marinas sections all work similarly, in that you can browse by map or by list. Every single Lake Martin marina is listed, but you will notice not every restaurant and store are. We purposely left out big chains like Wal-Mart or McDonalds. Nothing against them, but there are plenty of maps and apps that can help you find them easily. Our goal here is to make a special point to mention the locally owned businesses that are so frequently overlooked by visitors. For that matter, there are Alex City folks that are unfamiliar with the Dadeville side, and vice versa, so hopefully it helps them, too!
For more information, please see our FAQ page at: Lake Martin Voice app FAQ
If you want to request to have an event, restaurant, or shop listed in the app, you can fill out request forms below.
CLICK HERE to request for a shop be added.
CLICK HERE to request for an event to be added.
CLICK HERE to request for a restaurant to be added.
Yes, the news we’ve been wanting is finally here – it’s official!
FERC HAS APPROVED A 483 FOOT WINTER POOL & FULL POOL IN FALL!!
FERC has been in the process of relicensing the usage permit for Alabama Power for several years. Each license lasts about 30 years, so it’s a tedious process. If you would like full coverage of this, please see past articles I have written in the Water Level category in my blog. In fact, I think the first post I wrote for my Lake Martin real estate blog back in 2007 was about its water level.
Back to the Good News
If you would like to read the official statement from FERC, please CLICK HERE for that. If you would like to download the entire EIS, CLICK HERE – but be warned, it’s a PDF and about 4.7 MB and 295 pages.
The announcement has two main parts:
- Lake Martin will only go down to 483 feet at the bottom of winter pool, as opposed to 480 in the past. Three more feet will mean a ton more homes and boat ramps will have access to the water in winter. For real estate, this means lots more homes can claim the coveted “year ’round water” prize.
- Lake Martin will remain full until October 15, instead of Labor Day. In the past, the gradual water draw down started after Labor Day, usually the first week in September. Under the new guidelines, if we have enough rain, draw down will not start until October 15. As in the past, it won’t drain overnight, but it is a slow decline that hits bottom in late November or December. Now, it the bottom will be three feet higher!
What Does This Mean? As I have said in the past, I don’t think this huge victory will raise waterfront real estate prices on Lake Martin overnight. We should not see a huge markup tomorrow. But I do think that it will provide upward pressure for the next three decades. Everyone likes water, and the higher the better. I see this as a tremendous economic impact for the area as more tourists and second homers stay around longer in the fall!! I will write more about this but for now I would like to post this and celebrate!!
Update 4-10-15: Here’s a link to Alabama Power’s Official News Release
ONE MORE ANNOUNCEMENT:
I was going to wait until tomorrow but I am giddy with excitement, so here it goes:
I have created a FREE app for the Lake Martin area!! More info CLICK HERE!
The purpose is to provide an awesome mobile real estate search, but it’s much, much more than that. I also have curated info that heretofore only locals knew – Lake Martin events, where to eat (with menus), where to shop (with hours), weather and water level, and other things to do (where to hike, where to bike, etc). Imagine, when you wonder what’s going on at the lake, you are two clicks away from it now!! Here’s what the logo looks like:
If you think the water level thing is good news, how about the fact that the creator of the universe sent His Son to die for you? That’s what Easter is all about. We are giving praise for the fact that even though God knows are hearts, our innermost thoughts and sees that we’re sinners, He sent His son to die for His children. By His Grace we are saved, no other reason. Now that’s some real good news!