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August Fishing on Lake Martin

Michael with 36 lb. striper caught on Lake Martin in July (photo courtesy of David Hare)

How many nighttime boat rides have you taken on Lake Martin?

I usually take several a year and I love them. The lake always looks totally different when the sun goes down. There’s a lot less traffic, but obviously you have to be on guard when operating a boat at night.

I have even fished many a night, especially in the summer. Warm water temperatures means low oxygen, and that means fish go down deeper. When the sun goes down it sometimes gives them a chance to come in to shallower water and look for treats like hatching mayflies. Granted, these are smaller spotted bass and bream that venture up to sip the insects. You probably are not going to catch any of Lake Martin’s famed 20+ pound striped bass by delicately casting a size 14 parachute Adams.

There are lots of folks that fish at night during the summer for striped bass, and David Hare’s company, Alex City Guide Service, is the best of the best.

I always pay attention to David Hare’s fishing reports. David is the owner and head guide at Alex City Guide Service.  Lately his (seemingly) unending pictures of nice stringers of striped bass has finally broken through my willpower. I can’t stand it anymore! I called David up and booked a boat for later this month. I have never been night fishing with him so I know my family and I are in for a treat.

If you would like to learn more about striped bass fishing on Lake Martin, please see his report for August below.

I also pay close attention to David’s Facebook page.

If you have any questions, please contact David directly at:

Alex City Guide Service
Captain David Hare
256-401-3089

davidbhare@yahoo.com

As of 7/11/17
Full Pool(491.00)
Clear
Surface Temp 88July was a pretty awesome month for night time striper fishing. With only a few nights being tuff we were able to limit out the majority of time plus land some nice trophies including a 36 and a 26 lber.
August fishing should continue to be good night time striper fishing. The water temps are going to be 90+ and the fish are going to be deeper this month than most any other month. I personally will be working in 100ft or deeper water looking for suspended fish in the 60-80 ft depths. I will also be expecting the best bite to be later in the night say 9pm or later, with good live bait, lots of patience will be the key to great catches.
August is also a good time for deep water trolling at daylight and dusk. I would try in the Ridge Marina area, the dam and Goat Island. For best results try using spoons, jigs and bug swim baits running them 40-60 ft deep.
Bream fishing is really good in August if you can stand the heat. You can limit out most any day at most any time. Try your luck in shaded pockets that are stacked with floating debris. Most any area of Lake Martin holds real nice bream.
Until next time – be safe, keep what you can eat and release the remainder for your next trip!Capt. David Hare
256-401-3089

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Lot Leases on Lake Martin

When my phone rings, I never know who or what is at the other end of the line. I am sure you are like me in that these days you get a lot of spam or robot calls on your cell phone. I must admit, a few weeks ago when I saw an out of state number call on my caller ID on a Saturday night, my first thought was to groan inwardly and think, “This is fake.”

I was really surprised when I learned the truth.

A real person was calling – it was Lydia Hu, Reporter / Weekend Anchor with WBRC Fox 6 in Birmingham. WBRC was working on a story for their Fox News On Your Side Investigation segment about lot leases for waterfront real estate in Alabama. Lydia asked me to explain lot leases for the viewers. Click here for a link to the entire segment that aired in June. Read below for my explanation of lot leases.

A lot lease is when a homeowner owns the home, the bricks and sticks and improvements on a house, but they don’t own the dirt beneath it,” I explained.

And the increase in the lease payments? “Most of the time it’s being calculated on the value of the lot. And so if the value of the lot goes up, the lease payment will go up over those 20 years.”

“Some people do prefer the lot lease because they are able to buy the house for a lot lower price and they have a smaller lease payment over those 20 or 30 years,” I explained.  Anyone with a lot lease should work with a local real estate agent familiar with the market.  

My advice? “As you come to the end of your lease, you need to be aware how much the local real estate market has changed.” 

Alabama Power is one of the two major land owners on Lake Martin. Many years ago, Alabama Power did not sell lake lots outright. They would lease them to folks for like twenty or so years. People would build homes on these leased lots – so it created a rather interesting condition whereas the person owns the home and dock and other improvements, but Alabama Power still owned the lot.

Around here at Lake Martin, we call these “leased Lot houses.” Whenever you sell a leased Lot house, as a seller you have to disclose the lease terms. As a buyer, you should be ok with all of them.

Until about 2012 or so, approximately 10% of waterfront home sales on Lake Martin were leased Lot home sales. The last time I looked, which was early 2017, I counted that about 1% of home sales were on leased lots.

I think this is because many leased lot homeowners took advantage of a program that Alabama Power instituted around then. They sent offers to leased lot homeowners offering to sell them the lots associated with their homes. Many waterfront homeowners took Alabama Power up on the offer, and thus there are a lot fewer leased lot homes. Logically, that means fewer will make it to the market.

I don’t really know if it reduced the amount of waterfront leased lot homes by 90%. Maybe it just meant that those who didn’t buy their lots then intend to stay for the long term, and so they are unlikely to sell in the short term.

But, I do have the conclusion that with fewer leased lot homes on Lake Martin, if you plan to sell one, you’ll have to do a better job at educating buyers on the whole situation. As with any part of real estate, if you’re dealing with a unique piece of property, it is essential that you get out the right information.

Whether your home on Lake Martin is on leased lot or not, I would love to help you sell it!

The first step is usually figuring out the potential market value. I can come by and take a look, no strings attached. Please contact me at here or call me at the number at the top of this page.

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Days of Our Market

Not too long ago, I read a pretty interesting article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The article was written by Leigh Kamping-Carder and was on page M1 of the Friday, April 14, 2017, edition. The headline was “For Sale… For Years.” It was an interesting study of luxury homes in the U.S. The key statistic examined was “Days On Market.”

Days On Market (DOM) is a figure that is closely tracked in the real estate industry. It is measured from when a home is first listed by a real estate agent to the time when the sale is closed.

I don’t know if there is a perfect number here, but I do think that economists watch trends. If the DOM in a region or the nation is rising, that could indicate a shift to a buyer’s market. Maybe the number of homes available for sale is rising or the number of willing buyers is decreasing.

Practically speaking, DOM comes into the conversation when an agent is talking with a prospective seller. The seller might ask, “How long will it take to sell my house?” The agent might answer, “The average days on market in our area is X,” in an attempt to estimate.

Since the WSJ is a national paper, its focus is usually macroeconomic – the big picture, coast to coast. The published observation was made in February, and the average DOM for all homes in the nation was 53 days; however, it was even higher for homes considered to be in the luxury category.

For those homes, the average DOM was almost double at 100 days. Then the author took it a step further and looked at the most expensive 10 percent of homes. That portion was 34 percent higher than luxury at 134 days. So the difference between the average home in the U.S. and the top 10 percent was almost triple the amount of DOM. Said another way, it takes almost three times the number of days to sell a top 10 percent home than it does an average one.

Naturally, this piqued my interest about little ole Lake Martin. Would we hold to national trends?

I took a look at the Lake Martin Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to derive some answers. Our MLS doesn’t have every single home sale in the lake area. For instance, a home sold “For Sale By Owner” wouldn’t be included, and occasionally developers choose not to publish every sale in the MLS. But, it does have a very high percentage of waterfront sales – I would hazard a guess at 90 percent of them. I think it is an extremely reliable indicator of value. Besides, local MLSs are where newspapers like the WSJ get their information.

I don’t often explore the non-waterfront section of our MLS, but this article made me curious. Which type of home has been selling more quickly lately? Waterfront or non-waterfront? And how would that stack up to the national average?

When comparing to the national numbers quoted in the WSJ, I decided to use more than one month here at Lake Martin. We are in such a tiny market; monthly statistics can be heavily influenced by one or two outlying sales.

My first step was to take a look at the average home sold in our area. According to the numbers reported by our MLS to the Alabama Center for Real Estate in 2016, using every home that sold, both waterfront and non-waterfront, the average Days On Market was 177. That is quite a bit higher than the national average of 53 DOM in February.

Then I looked at waterfront homes only. I found that in the three months ended March 31, 2017, the average Days On Market for waterfront only homes was 187. I can’t say that I was surprised. The 187 here at Lake Martin is a lot higher than the nation’s overall luxury market average of 100 DOM. But, we do follow the nation’s trend in that our luxury sales take longer than the average home sale.

What if I looked at the highest 10 percent of sales in the Lake Martin MLS?

When diving into these types of statistics, especially in a small market like ours, it is easy to end up comparing short-term results to long term ones. It would not be entirely accurate to compare, say, one summer month’s sales to an entire year or five-year trend. Since the WSJ article cited February, I wanted to be close to them with my end date. On the same token, we can’t really compare monthly sales in our tiny market to national statistics.

Therefore, I chose to look at an entire year but to end that year on March 31, 2017. In the 12 months from April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017, 337 waterfront homes were sold. The top 10 percent would be about 33 homes. The top 33 homes sold in that period ranged from $825,000 to two homes that sold for $2 million. Those 33 homes had an average Days on Market of 166. The lowest was a home that sold in zero days, and the highest was one that took 532 days to sell. But the average was 166, or about 11 percent lower than overall waterfront’s 187.

This finding was very curious to me. Up until now, Lake Martin has followed the national trend. A home for sale in our “luxury market” (waterfront) takes longer to sell than the average. But we buck the trend when it comes to the top 10 percent of highest priced homes sold. The national trend of 34 percent higher DOM than luxury did not hold with us.

I have a theory as to why. The top 10 percent group is pricing homes more accurately. There might be more buyers in that segment proportionally, but that would be hard to measure. We know we are in a seller’s market, so the overall market direction can’t be to blame. The same agents are selling the top 10 percent that are also selling the rest, so that is a constant. That is how I arrive at price. It is about all that is left to explain it.

I am not surprised that Lake Martin’s Days On Market is higher than the national average. We are always higher in that category, no matter what type of market – a sizzling seller’s or a drought-filled doldrum. We have limited supply and about 80 percent second home ownership. As my fellow agent John Christenberry said, “We deal with buyers that don’t have to buy and sellers that don’t have to sell.”

Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine. I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine. This article was also published on the ACRE (Alabama Center for Real Estate) website.

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Sun Festival 2017 – 9 Days of Fun in Alexander City

The Alexander City Sun Festival – nine days of fun – July 14- 22, 2017!

I really have to hand it to the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce. I think the Sun Festival is the perfect way to meld the City with Lake Martin. And they always schedule it after July 4th but well before Labor Day. The events are sponsored by local businesses that all bring their own flair. If you are anywhere near the Lake Martin area for this week, you owe it to yourself to catch one of these fun events.

With fun for the entire family be sure to make your plans now because you know you don’t want to miss anything! To help with your planning download our free Lake Martin Voice app – all of the events are listed. Be sure to check the Sun Festival’s Facebook page and website too for more details. Also the printed day-by-day guide can be picked up at the Chamber office and various businesses around town.

Listed below are a few of my favorite events:

  • July 15 – Slip-n-Slide 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run – Be sure to pre-register. I saw a pic of the slip-n-slide they will be using. They will end up at Strand Park and that is a great hill for sliding.
  • July 16 – PaddleBoard Race at Wind Creek State Park – This is sponsored by my friends Nicki and Jackson Dozier at TowBoat U.S. Lake Martin and also by Sharon and the Paddle Lake Martin group. The lake area has a growing paddle community and if you are new, this would be the perfect time to hop in, meet folks, and have fun.
  • July 17 – Dawg-Gawn Good Parade – Call me a sucker for dogs but I think this is just hilarious. Quintessential small town. You just dress your dog up in a funny costume, show up, and walk the walk. They even have prizes. Don’t take it too seriously, this is not Best in Show. It’s just for fun.
  • July 22 – On the Pontoon – two-hour cruises around Lake Martin sponsored by our fellow Lake Martin Voice Realty agent, the ever fun loving Paige Patterson. Paige will need to correct me if I am wrong but I think she has been doing these about three years. She first started them as a way to show real estate to folks new to Lake Martin, and it was such a hit she decided to incorporate a tour during Sun Festival. It’s a great way to get to know the Lake. Also, if you absolutely just had to buy a piece of real estate that you saw along the way, Paige probably wouldn’t hold you back. Just sayin’.
  • July 22 – Cornhole Tournament – starting at 4 in Strand Park. Cornhole is a “sport” that requires a minimal amount of effort.
  • July 22 – Moon Taxi Concert – starting at 6 in Strand Park. End the nine days of Sun Festival fun with a musical celebration! You absolutely need to get tickets ahead of time for this one, but they are only $20. Be sure to check the Chamber website www.alexandercitychamber.com.

Some of the events require registration or tickets. Registration forms can be downloaded at www.alexandercitychamber.com or go by the Chamber office.

Sun Festival is possible due to the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce, the many sponsors and volunteers and the city and county governments. Be sure to thank and support the sponsors and thank the volunteers when you see them!

Happy Sun Festival – enjoy celebrating all that Lake Martin and Alex City has to offer!

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Ego Versus Effectiveness

Earlier this year I had my first “Instagram closing” for a waterfront home sale here at Lake Martin.

Let me explain how it went down.

I saw a #sneakpeek of a new listing for a home in the Real Island area on my friend Becky’s Instagram feed. I forwarded it to my potential buyer and within 20 minutes they drove by the house. I scheduled a showing and the next day they made an offer, beating out a couple of other buyers, and got under contract. We closed soon after.

I was pretty amazed when I reflected that it pretty much happened over Instagram.

Not that Instagram or any social media is the end all be all.

In my opinion, too many real estate agents think that merely “having a presence” is the point of social media. They think they have to be everywhere. They brag on the number of platforms they’re on and say “Follow me on Facebook” or “Like my stuff on Instagram.”

I tend to think “Why should I follow you?” Or more accurately, “Why should the public follow me or any agent?” What is in it for them? Everyone these days has a Facebook page or Instagram or whatever. Big deal. It’s free.

The big question is “What are you (as a real estate agent) doing with it?

Social media is a tool, just like a phone or a car or a camera.

What separates effective agents from self-promoters is that effective ones think “How can I help my clients with this? What would they like? What is useful to them?”

If you are an agent reading this – think about it – what’s a more helpful way to use your phone to help your
buyer – texting them a picture of the view of Lake Martin from a home? or posting a selfie of you (gobbling
up all of the screen space) in front of the same view and posting it on social media? My friend Becky nailed it when she posted the sneak peak. She was being helpful to her followers and showing a great view of the home. It worked.

I admit, I have an ego just like the next guy. Probably more than the next guy. Sometimes it is a struggle to me to not give in to those that advise agents to constantly “promote your personal brand” by splashing your name and Glamour Shot all over the place.

For the record, I do think that brand promotion has its place – in limited quantities for specific purposes. But, I also think that my approach suits me personally.

My approach- to use my marketing muscle to talk about Lake Martin.

I try to talk about my sellers’ properties, not myself. My goal is to help buyers learn about Lake Martin, not about me.

I realize that along the way, parts of my life will inevitably spill into the interweb and my marketing. You can’t help it when you put so much of yourself into something. However, such spillover should be incidental to the process, not Step 1 of it.

To return to the Instagram example, true- that’s how we found it. But, my buyers would not have listened to me on that one had I not earned their trust over years of looking at other homes online and in person. In other words, social media was one of the tools we used. Not the only one.

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It’s Mosquito Season – who ya gonna call?

It’s mosquito season in Alabama and with all of the rain we have had in the last month you are probably hearing those pesky, buzzing mosquitos and feeling their presence at Lake Martin.

When at Lake Martin we want to be outside and enjoy ourselves – not keep swatting away mosquitoes. Help can be on the way! Call my friends with Mosquito Authority at (334) 648-0936. They are a local company based out of Montgomery and can help control mosquitoes around your home.

Last fall I wrote a blog post explaining what Mosquito Authority does and how to get in contact with them. If you would like to read it now click here – it should answer most of your questions. Prices have changed a little for 2017. The price is $69 per treatment. Or save some money and choose the one payment option for the remaining season – (currently there are 5 applications left in the official mosquito season.) The season starts in early April and continues thru October – the worst month for mosquitos is typically August.

There is no contract or obligation but if you choose the repeat treatments plan the Mosquito Authority guarantees that if the mosquitoes keep biting they will come back to spray again at no extra charge.

Mosquito Authority is helping keep away mosquitoes at our lake house again this year and they can make a difference in controlling the mosquitos around your yard too!

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4th of July Events at Lake Martin – 2017

What is there to do at Lake Martin on the 4th of July?

I am glad you asked! Since the 4th is on a Tuesday this year (and hopefully you have Monday off from work) there are loads of events scheduled at the Lake starting Friday, June the 30th. In fact there are too many to list here but don’t worry – check out my free Lake Martin Voice app for a full list of events.

As far as July 4th here are some great choices:

The Amp 4th of July Blast – Concert and Fireworks – gates open at 5:00 with music starting at 6:30 from The Bank Walkers and the Sweet Tea Trio. Fireworks will start at 9 featuring the Southeast’s largest fireworks show! Tickets are $10 with children 6 and under free.

Russell Marine 4th of July Boat Parade – boats will parade from Kowaliga Marina to Children’s Harbor in a “festive and patriotic holiday display.” The parade starts at 10. Prizes awarded! Register to enter the parade (call 334-857-2111) or enjoy the parade from the shore!

Blue Creek 4th of July Parade – starts at the North end of Ponder Camp Road at 11 and ends at Niffer’s. Watch or enter – fun for all!

Three cheers for the Red, White and Blue!

The Lake Martin Voice app is available for free (click on images below):

 

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Wine and Words to benefit Friends of the Dadeville Library

This year’s Wine & Words event is Friday, June 23 from 6-8 pm at Chuck’s Marina. Please come out to support the Friends of the Dadeville Library – sample some wine, browse the selection of books and listen to some live music from John Bull and Ed Pickett.

Also meet author Katie Porterfield who will be on hand to sell and sign her book “Find Your Heart in Lake Martin.” This book would make a great gift for anyone, any age that loves Lake Martin. To read more about Katie click here for an article from the Alex City Outlook.

Any donations will benefit the Friends of the Dadeville Library. The Friends are also offering chances to win a brand-new Fender “T-Bucket” acoustic guitar, featuring an on-board amplifier. Tickets for the guitar drawing are a $2 donation each. Tickets are currently being offered at Dadeville Public Library and can also be purchased at Wine & Words.

We are happy to help sponsor Wine & Words this year along with Chuck’s Marina Winestoppers and Friends of the Dadeville Library.

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Country Living 2017 Lake House of the Year at Lake Martin!

Country Living magazine chose their 2017 Lake House of the Year location at Lake Martin! Their July/August issue (which goes on sale at news stands this week) has been dubbed The Water Issue. And since you love Lake Martin like I do you will agree they made a wise choice in choosing Lake Martin as the site of the Lake House of the Year! This issue celebrates life on the water so be sure to pick up an issue today!

This beautiful, relaxed home was built in a collaboration with architect Jonathan Torode of Nashville (Pfeffer Torode Architecture), builder Chad Calhoun of Alexander City (Classic Homes), and Russell Lands on Lake Martin. The home is located at 321 Paddock Point in The Ridge, a Russell Lands development.  Click here for Google map.

The lake home’s exterior features rough cedar siding and a natural stone chimney and outdoor spaces that we all love such as a screened in porch, a lakeside fire pit and a deck area to watch the sunset. Inside the 2,900 sq. ft. home are expansive windows – each room taking advantage of natural light, oak hardwood floors, tongue and groove pine walls, a smooth cypress ceiling in the open living room, a natural stone fireplace, beautiful finishes in the kitchen such as subway tile quartz countertops and a pecky cypress kitchen island, 3 bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms with patterned porcelain tile, an upstairs bonus room, a pantry and more.

And guess what? You can take a tour between June 26 and July 9 from 10-5 daily. Tickets are only $15 and will benefit Children’s Harbor. Click here to purchase tickets now.

Check out one of the videos Country Living did (click play arrow):

To read the online article and see photos and more videos from Country Living click here.

If you are ready to find your Lake Martin home to enjoy life on the water give me, John Coley, a call or text me at the number at the top of this page, email me john@lakemartinvoice.com or contact me here.

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Small Changes in Kitchen = Big Difference!

We all know that the kitchen is the heart of the home and that applies to kitchens at Lake Martin too. The kitchen in this condo at Sunset Point in Stillwaters needed some updating. The existing white cabinet doors and drawer fronts were replaced with new white ones and the color of the walls were kept the same “lemon drops” yellow. The cabinet hardware was replaced which made a big difference.

All of the countertops were replaced and included a redesign of the peninsula counter containing the sink. A new tile backsplash was also installed and plug outlets were moved and updated which made a big difference in the overall look of the kitchen.

See for yourself – small changes can make a big difference!

If you’re a buyer who is looking for a Lake Martin home let me know.  My name is John Coley and I’ll help you find a property that makes sense for your vision and your budget Give me a call or text me at the number at the top of this screen or email me here.

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