Archive for the 'Lake Martin' Category

Closets For Your Lake Martin Cabin: $50

lake martin real estate for saleDo you have a a cabin on Lake Martin with no little or no closet space?  Why not buy a nice armoire for $50?

Lots of the waterfront homes around Lake Martin were built in the 1960s, so that means no storage.  The owners can fix them up or keep them rustic, but lack of closets can be a hassle.  In fact, one of my listings that sold this summer didn’t have a closet.

Solution: Buy a used armoire.  I read in a recent Wall Street Journal article that there are tons of really nice used armoires out there for the taking, some as little as $50.  This is caused by the flat screen TV phenomenon.  As people upgrade to the new thing, they can no longer fit them into their entertainment center / armoire.

Hotels have it even worse.  As they struggle to keep fresh, they are dumping armoires by the thousands.  Why not buy one online and take it to your Lake Martin cabin?  Either keep it for a tube TV or convert it to store clothes, lake toys, or whatever.  Many of these furniture pieces are from pretty swanky hotels.lake martin storage

Check it out:


Hotel Surplus Outlet,
This Los Angeles liquidator is encouraging customers to buy armoires and convert them into computer stations.

Universal Hotel Liquidators,
Armoires start at $89.95. Starting next year, the company plans to throw in free tube TVs to help move inventory.
National Content Liquidators,
Starting prices for armoires here are down to $50. Among its hotel clients: Le Meridien in Beverly Hills.
AMC Liquidators,
This Fort Lauderdale liquidator has sold armoires that were once used to furnish the Breakers hotel in Palm Beach.


Learn how to convert your entertainment armoire into a wardrobe.


Lake Mag Interview: The Uncensored Director’s Cut

Lake martin magazineLake Martin Magazine interviewed me a couple of weeks ago about the effect of the drought on the Lake Martin real estate market, and general trends affecting buyers, sellers, and realtors. They included it in an article called “Special Report: The Water Issue” in the November 2007 issue. I thought Nikki Reeves and Kenneth Boone did a good job of covering a huge topic.

While they didn’t publish the entire interview, they did use a couple of nuggets, and managed to add in a compliment to me. Here’s the entire interview, with the parts that Lake Magazine used highlighted in yellow:

Lake martin drought effect on real estateLake Magazine: Has the lake level affected your individual/company’s business this year in comparison to previous years? Has it done so in a positive/negative way?

John Coley: While I personally have been fortunate to have a better year in 2007 than 2006, I can’t say that for the real estate market as a whole. Through August, the number of waterfront closings per year was down 35%, from 346 to 226. I can’t help but think that a portion of that is due to the low lake level. I don’t think that it’s a majority of the culprit, though. I think the major blame for a slower market still lies at the feet of sellers who have overpriced their offerings. From 2000 to 2006 sellers became accustomed to 30% gains in value per year, and priced in 07 accordingly. The facts have shown that there was little or no value gain in 07 from 06, and some sellers have not figured that out yet. Case in point is the auction in July 07 at Harbor Pointe. They sold 25 condos in one day even though the water was extremely low, so you can’t blame it on the level. They sold them because the prices were low enough for buyers to accept.

LM:  Do you think the drought will be a positive thing for the lake market – in terms of rebalancing a surplus of property and real estate agents?

JC:  This is kind of a philosophical question. I think it is part of the natural free market cycle of business, so I don’t think it’s “positive” or “negative.” It’s just natural, so deal with it. Is a forest fire a “positive” experience for wild turkeys? Well, if you’re the turkey that gets burned up, no. But if you survive it and the forest in general grows more healthy because of the fire, then maybe it’s “positive” for you.

On the practical side, I do think that the lake will follow the national trend of less people joining the real estate profession over the next two years or so. The same thing happened in the tech stock boom of the late 1990s. Lots of people quit their jobs to be “day traders” or they did it on the side. The stock market crashed, and they went back to their old jobs.

There will always be room in the market for good, honest, hardworking real estate agents. In a slower market, there is less incentive for those who are half hearted or not dedicated to join up. The same rule applies in any profession. In the minds of the average American, real estate agents have a pretty low image, so I doubt we’ll see any “Farm Aid” style benefit concerts for starving Realtors.

LM: What benefits are there for buyers in the coming months? Sellers?

JC:  Buyers – I think it’s a buyers’ market in every category (condos, lots, homes), so they have the benefit of buying at good prices. The only way they can benefit, though, is to actually buy. If they sit around and try to perfectly time the “bottom” – then they may miss out. Study after study shows that most “experts,” much less the average joe cannot accurately predict the perfect bottom of any market. In fact, once the public realizes that a market is on an upswing, sellers have started to gain momentum again.

Sellers – I have talked to several people that are now considering upgrading their homes to take advantage of the buyers’ market. I think another benefit is that if they price their property correctly, and either the water comes up next spring or interest rates tick down a half point, they could have some pressure relieved. The last buyers’ market in 1999 and 2000 lasted for a couple of years, if that, then it took off and ran for 7. Sellers can be confident that, if they price it right, stage it properly, and market it hard, their home will still sell. It might take longer, but a good agent can get it done.

Lake martin propertyLM:   Is there a silver lining to the drought for the area’s real estate market?

JC:  If Alabama Power is successful in their efforts to raise the winter level water pool to 483 or 485 as opposed to 480, that would be great. If this drought gives them the evidence they need to make the case, it will be worth it.

And if there are fewer real estate agents around, maybe there will be fewer agents’ mugshots grinning at you from signs, magazines, and mail outs. Ha!!

LM:  What are your predictions/plans for 2008?

JC:  If this severe drought continues, I think it will become a major, rather than minor negative effect on waterfront sales. The question in the minds of the buyer that’s new to the market, is “will it ever come back?” Veteran buyers realize we’re in an 80 year anomaly and it hasn’t bothered them that much. But 2 or 3 years straight of less than full pool conditions will start to take a heavy toll. Personally I think that is highly unlikely if you look at the rain patterns over the last 50 years. But it’s a remote possibility.

I think that most sellers will not be very negotiable in Jan 08 – Mar 08, gambling that the water will come up. They will figure, “hey, I’ve waited this long, why not wait a little longer.” I think more buyers will start to wake up and realize that the time to buy is now. For so long I heard from buyers that said “call me when that market is not so crazy.” I’m calling them now.

LM:  Anything else you think needs to be included.

JC:  Feel free to quote from these related posts:

Nobel Winners in Economics Say Buy Now on Lake Martin
This Man’s to Blame For the Slow Lake Martin Market
6 Crucial Changes Coming to Lake Martin Real Estate
To Predict Lake Martin Real Estate, Look West

Thanks again for the mention, Lake Mag!!  (all photos in this post were taken by Kenneth Boone / Lake Magazine – Lake Martin Issue, November, 2007) 

Click here for the entire Lake Magazine Article.

Elmore County Water System Extends Intakes Deeper in Lake Martin

They are extending the intakes to deeper water.  This video was made on 10–26–2007 at the County’s intake station, which is on the Little Kowaliga branch of Lake Martin.  To get there you go to Elmore County road 80 and take Lakepoint Road to Wavecrest Drive.  Click on the “play” symbol in the middle of the video below to watch.



To the link on the clip on Youtube, click here.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Drought Hits The Weather Channel Video

Alex City Water System Extends Intakes Deeper in Lake Martin

The drought this year has threatened to lower the level of Lake Martin to below where the intake valves for the water works of the City of Alex City are located. The City has had to extend their intake valves to deeper water.  This video was filmed 10–26–2007 on the Tallapoosa River just above River North Marina.   Click on the “play” symbol in the middle of the video below to watch it.



 Or you can click here to see the video on Youtube.

Alabama Power Wants Higher Winter Level On Lake Martin

lake martin water level changeLake Martin HOBOs President Jesse Cunningham announces that Alabama Power is taking a major step by requesting to hold more water in the lake during the next few winters.  Cunningham reports in an email, “I received word on Friday from Charles Stover with Alabama Power that they have just filed a request with FERC” to increase the winter water level to 483 from 480.  Three extra feet spread over 44,000 acres means that we would need a heck of a lot less rain to get to full pool of 490.

This will please Lake Martin property owners that might have access to the lake at 483, but not the normal winter level of 480 msl.  The higher winter water level will give more recreational opportunities to boaters, skiers, and anglers.  The higher the water, the easier it is to launch a boat, and the easier to navigate and enjoy.

Alabama Power is applying to renew their permit to operate Martin Dam.  Before they request any big change, they must submit reams of data to prove to FERC that any operational change will have minimum impact.  Maybe this awful drought that we have been suffering will give Alabama Power more ammo to prove the obvious point – more water in Lake Martin is a good thing.  I think they used to fear holding too much in case of a hurricane or flash flood.  But these days, with them computers and what all, we can predict precipitation much more accurately, and we have plenty of time to open the gates in case of a flood.

Sure, this probably won’t help us this winter, but every winter thereafter will be great.  Kudos to Alabama Power and every Lake Martin affinity group that helped push this idea.  Let’s hope FERC approves it!


Related posts:

Alabama Power Seeks Input To Relicense Martin Dam
Drought & Alabama Power Lower Lake Martin Level

Nobel Winners In Economics Say Buy Now On Lake Martin

lake martin alabama pricesThe winners of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics, are advising buyers to act now on Lake Martin.

OK, OK, maybe Leonid Hurwicz, Eric Maskin, and Roger Myerson haven’t come right out and literally said that, but a quick review of their work should tell you that they would advise it.  Their work laid the foundation for mechanism design theory, which attempts to explain how sellers and buyers allocate resources in the real world.

Our old friend Adam Smith describes the theoretical world of free market capitalism, where buyers and sellers have perfect information.  If a seller has 100 widgets, he sells exactly 100 for his lowest price and has no one asking for more.  Exactly 100 buyers show up and buy them at their highest price, and no one walks away empty handed.

In the real world, however, information is not perfect.  Sellers don’t know buyers’ top number.  Buyerslake martin waterfront real estate lots don’t know how bad a seller needs the money.  Let’s say a butcher has 20 people show up for his 15 steaks, and 5 people go home mad because of the shortage.  The butcher should have raised his price to the point that he had 15 and only 15 buyers.  Classic shortage strategy.  Or, what if it’s the opposite?  Say the butcher has so many unsold steaks that he may be forced to throw out meat.  That’s called a surplus.  So the butcher should lower his price and sell the steaks rather than trashing them.  If steak loving buyers realized that he was dropping prices, they should get off their duffs and get down to the grocery.  Simple, right?  Easily applied to Lake Martin real estate, right?


There is a surplus of Lake Martin waterfront property right now.  At current buying rates, it will take 25 months to sell it all.  That, my friends, is a surplus.



If you’re trying to sell your Lake Martin real estate, you should get realistic about prices.  I am beginning to see this happen.  There are very few sellers still out there that think that it’s still a booming sellers’ market.  But have they learned the lesson enough to look in the mirror and lower prices on their own waterfront homes or lots?  They all say “I know the market has cooled off, but…”

lake martin real estate lot propertyBuyers:

Lake Martin buyers need to come to the table.  All through 2006, the only thing I heard from reticent buyers was “call me when this crazy market slows down, I’ll buy then.”  Well, I’m calling.  It’s slow.  Sellers are hurting.  Are you going to wait until it takes off again to buy?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.




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Lake Martin Drought Hits The Weather Channel Video

lake martin drought  weather channelThe historically harsh drought that has hit Lake Martin in 2007 has been highlighted by The Weather Channel Network.  They sent reporter Julie Martin (no relation) to shoot a video spot that aired last night.   Click here for the video.  If for some reason it doesn’t auto play after the commercial, look to the right and select the video titled “Drought and no water to drink.”

The Alex City Outlook also reported on the video.

Mostly, I think it’s a pretty good report.  I would have liked her to point out that right now it is about 3 feet below the winter water plan, or, 3 feet lower than it normally would be.  Not 13 lower.  Still, maybe reports like this will help Alabama Power in its appeals to the Corps of Engineers to allow less downstream flow.

Incidentally – my Dad’s real estate office in downtown AC (aka the Northern Command) is visible at 0:32 in to the video, 2 doors to the left of Carlisle’s Clothing.  Maybe now I can talk him into hanging a “” sign on the front of his building – or maybe a Glamour Shot photo of the two of us … hmmmm …


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ElCo Tax Man Squeezes Lake Martin Property Owners

lake martin real estate TaxesIf you own Lake Martin waterfront property that is in Elmore County, chances are that your assessment (and therefore property taxes) went up this year.  I have heard lots of anguish from taxpayers that were shocked by their increase this year.  I don’t know that those in Elmore County are any worse than Tallapoosa or Coosa, but ElCo has been hit hard this year.  Property tax rates have stayed the same, but when they raise your assessed value, your taxes go up anyway.

If you disagree with your assessment, there is an appeals process.  You will need to call the Elmore County courthouse at 334–567–1428.  They only allow you to appeal for a certain time, so if you disagree, hurry up.  Be warned – I have heard of some taxpayers’ appraisals actually going UP after an appeal.  I guess after scrutinizing, the tax man figured he needed to go up, not down.

Lake Martin property owners from outside the state of Alabama should note that our property tax fiscal year runs October 1 to September 30.  So, the bill that you have to pay by December 31, 2007, is based on an appraisal at October 1, 2006.  Therefore any appeal that you make would need to estimate the value at 10–1–2006.

The best way to get your appraisal lowered is to show them comparable sales that prove a lowerlake martin property taxes value.  The best comparables are those that are most like your waterfront home or lot.  On Lake Martin, most of the value is in the dirt, so look for comparables with similar views, water depths, and sizes as yours.  Then try and find homes that are like yours.  Generally, it is easier to first find similar lots, then adjust for the differences in the homes.  For instance, if your neighbor sold on September 20, 2006, and his lot is almost exactly like yours, you would only need adjust for the differences in your homes.  If he had four bedrooms and you only have three, then you would adjust down by the cost or value of an extra bedroom.

lake martin property valuesIf you are trying to appeal your assessment, and need some comparable sales, or you are just wondering what your Lake Martin waterfront home or lot is worth, give me a call.  I would be glad to help you out, no cost, no obligation, no cheesy sales pitch, no guilt.  I promise.  Just buy me a Slim Jim at Nail’s and we’ll call it even.

Lake Martin Marina Spotlight: Real Island Marina

lake martin Real Island real estate area

Real Island Marina – one of Lake Martin’s older full service marinas – is located in Elmore County on the southwest side of the lake. It’s close to Lake Martin landmarks such as Kowaliga Marina, Kowaliga Bridge, Willow Point, Parker Creek, and Sand Island. The Real Island / Little Kowaliga area is popular on Lake Martin. Since it is relatively close to Montgomery and Birmingham, homes for sale in the Real Island area are typically sought after by lake goers from these cities.

To contact Real Island Marina, call (334) 857-2741.

Real Island Marina sits on Little Kowaliga Bay, at the edge of the old Little Kowaliga Creek. It used to be an independent marina, but several years ago it was purchased by Lake Martin major landowner and real estate developer Russell Lands. It is now part of the group of 4 marinas that Russell Lands owns on Lake Martin.

One unique thing about Real Island Marina is the RV Rental area. That’s right – you can trailer your RV to Lake Martin and rent a spot from Russell Lands at Real Island. The views are great, looking over Little Kowaliga. The RV park probably sits on a couple million dollars worth of dirt. It stays booked up with long term leases, but if you want a spot, no harm in asking by calling the number below.

Real Island offers gas service, some boat parts, convenience store type food, and dry boat storage. Most of lake martin real island area homes for salethe time they have dry storage available, but with the recent drought, they might be booked up. If you need storage over the fall and winter, call now.

Right now, the water level on Lake Martin is 478.1 feet. There is a boat ramp at Real Island Marina, and you may or may not able to launch from there. You definitely should call and ask them before you make the trip.

To contact Real Island Marina:

2700 Real Island Road Equality, AL 36026

Phone: 334-857-2741

Homes and Lots For Sale In Real Island / Little Kowaliga

Are you interested in waterfront homes or lots for sale in the Lake Martin area of Real Island aka Little Kowaliga? Then CLICK HERE for the Little Kowaliga neighborhood page on my site. You will see a current, up to the minute list of waterfront homes and lots for sale, plus a general description of the Little Kowaliga area, and why some people call it Real Island.

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Alabama Power Seeks Input To Relicense Martin Dam

Alabama Power Martin Dam Relicensing

Alabama Power owns and operates the hydroelectric Martin Dam, which impounds the Tallapoosa River to create Lake Martin.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – regulates Alabama Power’s operation of Martin Dam, and its effect on the water flow downstream on the Tallapoosa River, as well as any economic, environmental, and other impacts in the Tallapoosa River Basin.

Every 25 years Alabama Power must apply to FERC to renew its license to operate the dam.  As you can imagine, it is a really big deal, and a lengthy, red tape filled process.  They are required by FERC to perform all kinds of studies – water quality, water quantity, erosion and sedimentation, wildlife impact, economic impact – just to name a few. 

Other regulatory agencies, such as ADEM, also get involved, suggesting different studies that they think should be taken into account.  Local advocacy groups, such as LMRA,  CALM, Lake Watch, and the Lake Martin HOBOs, have all had a keen interest in the process to try and put forth issues that they each feel should be addressed on how Lake Martin is managed.

Input is also sought from average joes like you and me.  For instance, yesterday I attended a public meeting in Alex City for those interested in the different “Issue Groups” about the Relicensing Project.  I went to the “Water Quality and Quantity Issue Group.”  Most of the material was over my head, but the basic gist was that this group is focused on studies about water quality and quantity.  Jim Crew, the Alabama Power employee in charge of the Martin Hydro Relicensing Project, gave an overview of the process.  They are in the first formal stages of creating that application.  They must apply by 2011 to be renewed in 2013.

If you have any concerns whatsoever about Lake Martin and how it is run, now is your chance to get in the loop and let your voice be heard.  For instance, if you think that they should only lower the water 5 feet in the winter in the future, visit the Martin Hydro Relicensing Project’s web site.  Call Jim Crew at 205–257–4265 or Viki Jackson at 205–257–2211 and ask them how you can get involved.  After sitting through that meeting, and talking with Alabama Power officials afterward, I got the feeling that they are honestly doing their very best to involve all the “stake holders” in this and address everyone’s concerns. 

Alabama Power has also recently gone to bat for Lake Martin against the Corp of Engineers and other influences that affect Lake Martin’s water level and I applaud them for it.  If you have been an APCo hater in the past, thinking that they are part of some shadowy effort to rob you of nostalgia, well, here’s a chance to get them to listen to you.  Act now or wait until June of 2036.