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6 Questions To Ask At An Auction On Lake Martin

Lake Martin Auction property home25 waterfront condos are being auctioned at Harbor Pointe in Stillwaters on July 7th.  Five of those will be absolute.  This auction follows on the heels of one earlier this spring.  Is this a sign of the times on Lake Martin?  Does this signal an end to the seller’s market? Are auctions a way to get a good deal on Lake Martin property?

Like any real estate transaction, every auction is uniqueThe person that does the homework will either come out of it with a fair price or avoid paying too much.

What questions should buyers ask before attending an auction at Lake Martin?

1.  Is this an absolute auction?  Always clarify this, but usually an absolute auction means that they must sell on that day, regardless of price.  Even if someone bids $1 for a Lake Martin condo, they must sell.  If it is not absolute, then ask what the reserve price is.  I’m sure they won’t tell you that, but no harm in asking.
2.  How many / which parcels are absolute? The Harbor Pointe auction will have 5 out of 25 absolute.  But,  if you see an ad for a different auction that says “40 condos for sale, absolute auction” maybe only 2 will be absolute. You want to be clear as to which are absolute and you want to make sure that you’re under the tent when they’re selling the absolute ones.
3.  Have these properties been for sale before?  The auction company may or may not know the answer, or they may or may not be obliged to tell you.  Here’s where your Lake martin real estate property auctionresearch comes in the picture.  How well do you know the Lake Martin market?  Or Stillwaters? Or Harbor Pointe? If the lake properties have been for sale recently, the listing prices can give you an idea of the seller’s expectations.
4.  What do you have to do to be a qualified bidder?  Usually you can give them a check for like $5,000 or something or a letter from the bank, usually it is better to set this up ahead of time, the week before the auction.
5.  What are the fees to the buyer?  Usually the buyer pays a fee above and on top of the bid amount  – this could be 5% to 10% – to cover the cost of the auction and the auctioneer fees.  This is sometimes a big part of their pitch to sellers.  They say, why pay realtor fees of 6% when you can make the buyer pay 10%?  Sellers think they are saving money but it all comes down to what is net to them anyway, and buyers figure that in when they bid and reduce their top number by, say, 10%.  Whatever.
6.  Will you send me the rules of the auction ahead of time? I ask for those.  I read everything.  Every auction is a bit different.  Maybe I will spot something that I didn’t think to ask about originally.
Sometimes I have Lake Martin buyers ask me about things like this, where I am neither the listing agent nor involved in any way. If they are interested, I can call the auction company for the buyer and register them as a potential bidder.  The auction company usually pays an extremely small “referral fee” to realtors like me when they register a buyer that is a high bidder.  This doesn’t cost the buyer a penny more because the buyer’s fee will be the same whether I call them or the buyer calls them directly.  But if I do call, I can ask them all of the above questions and give my analysis.
Lake Martin home auctionIn the case of the Harbor Pointe auction, I would run a buyer a report of all of the sales in Harbor Pointe in the last 2 years, and give a bidder an idea of what the exact market price should be on a condo there.  This gives you a pretty precise point to bid up to without getting hurt too bad.  Again, it won’t cost a dime more, and could arm you with a lot of information for the auction.  If my registered buyer is not a high bidder, they don’t owe me a penny.
I will definitely be watching the auction at Harbor Pointe to see what happens. (Thanks, Kirk, for the idea for this post!)

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New Lake Martin Lunch Spot: Green Valley Market & Cafe

Lake Martin lunch restaurantLake Martin has another great dining choice! The Green Valley Market and Cafe is now open.

The Green Valley Market is located in the Eclectic or Kowaliga area of Lake Martin, next to the Kudzu Corner. They are located on Highway 229 about halfway between where 229 intersects highway 50 at Castaway Island Road, and where 229 intersects highway 63 (aka Kowaliga Road) in downtown Kowaliga.

The Green Valley Market and Cafe sells sandwiches, and offers a good assortment of meat at their meat counter. If you need a lotGreen Valley market outside of food for your Fourth of July party, you may want to ask them about their catering. One of the newer trends on Lake Martin is selling ready to eat casseroles and such for people who don’t want to cook yet would like some home cookin. They sell a lot of the warm up and eat type of fare, which I am sure is very good. They also sell boutique looking spices, and little gifts, etc.

Lake Martin real estate lunchI have tried just about every sandwich they make, and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised. They serve the sandwiches with sides like potato salad or pasta salad, but my favorite is the black bean salad. Usually a lunch menu on the fru fru side does not do much for me, but their sandwiches taste really good. They use good quality meat and give generous portions. It is a great choice if you are looking for something other than fried foods.

Check them out! I recommend them heartily and wish them the best. Their phone is (334)857-3663. Street address is 2415 Red Hill Road, Eclectic, Alabama, 36024.

Related post: Four Great Lunch Meals Around Lake Martin

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Russell Lands’ Fireworks Are On, But Don’t Try At Home

Lake Martin real estate propertyLake Martin’s Fireworks Display on the Fourth of July is one of the best things about the lake area. After years of watching the fireworks show at the lake has caused me to be jaded and judgmental of any other claims to have “the best fireworks show in the land.

Many have worried that this year’s severe drought would prevent Russell Lands from putting on their annual patriotic display. After the state fire marshall banned fireworks in 33 drought affected counties, rumors have been flying around Lake Martin that there would be no fireworks show.

Fear Not! The fireworks show is on! Russell Lands General Counsel Steve Forehand confirmed in a letter that they do plan to have the fireworks display this year. Russell Lands has a “special permit from the Alabama Forestry Commission and the State Fire Marshall.

If you would like to see the fireworks, you can drive to the Lake Martin Amphitheater for the best view. It’s about a mile south of Kowaliga Bridge on highway 63. The Sweet Young Uns, Muse, and Harbor Lights will be playing after the fireworks.

By boat, you can pretty much see them at any point from Kowaliga Bridge to Martin Dam, which will be packed with thousands of boats. If you want an unimpeded view, go to the Cocktail Slough, directly north of the Amphitheater. If you go by boat, take caution. This event makes for the most dangerous time to drive a boat on Lake Martin. Combine the darkness, drunk boat drivers, inexperienced boat drivers, and (this year) exposed islands and it can be a madhouse.

Back to the Russell Lands letter – if you rent a Russell Lands cabin, watch out. Forehand Lake Martin property real estate fireworksreminds you that it is against your lease to shoot fireworks on the property – and it “could result in termination of your lease. That would be a shame.

Help Keep Lake Martin Water Level Up

HelpAlabama Power has requested to lower the required stream flow coming from Martin Dam, in an effort to keep the water level on Lake Martin from plummeting even more.  Click here for the public notice from the Corps of Engineers.

Lake martin real estate helpWillard Bowers, Vice President of Environmental Affairs at Alabama Power, made a request on May 15 to Colonel Peter F. Taylor, Commander, Mobile District, US Army Corps of Engineers, to “implement a reduction .. of flow of 10%” on Martin Dam.  He said that if they continue at the current flow, Lake Martin will be at its drought contingency level by July 4.  In short, they want to reduce the flow so that the water level on Lake Martin might have a chance of not plummeting as quickly this summer.

Col. Taylor has responded by notifying the public about this request, to give everyone a chance to have some input.  On page 3 of his notice, Col. Taylor notes that if the proposed changes are NOT implemented,  APC has indicated that the  “impact of maintaining (the current) release to the Alabama River has fallen completely on the remaining storage at Lake Martin…… Lake Martin is projected to be 14 feet below the rule curve by early August.”  I might not be right, but I read that to mean that unless something changes, Lake Martin’s water level will be at 476 by August.

What can I do?

You can contact Chuck Sumner and let him know that you support the proposed reduction in flow from Martin Dam.  Maybe you don’t support it; you can tell him that, too. 

Email:   Chuck Sumner, Inland Environmental Team
           [email protected]  (thanks Mav)

Fax:  (251)694–3815

Voice: (251)694–3857

Snail mail:

District Engineer
U.S. Army Engineer District, Mobile
P.O. Box 2288
Mobile, AL 36628–0001

DEADLINE:  10 CALENDAR DAYS FROM MAY 31, 2007

Please act now!  This won’t restore Lake Martin to its normal summer level, and might not even keep us from dipping below 480.  But at least it gives us a fighting chance!

Drought & Alabama Power Lower Lake Martin Level

Lake Martin’s water level is low this year, and it could get even lower.lake martin real estate water level

Alabama Power says
that Lake Martin’s water level started dropping on May 18 and “could be much lower on July 4.”

It is no news flash that Alabama and much of the southeast has suffered a severe drought so far in 2007.  This follows on the heels of a dry 2006.  Since part of Lake Martin’s existence depends on it maintaining a certain level downstream, it has been affected.

 

The folks at Alabama Power are not optimistic: “most streams that feed our lakes are at the lowest levels ever recorded.”

Lake Martin usually is filled to full pool, or 490 feet above sea level, by May.  As of May 15 it was just under 486, and dropping.  They are even reporting to FERC about the lower water flow.

Again, a quote from Alabama Power: “Martin is not expected to fill above 486 and will begin to drop May 18.”

Get used to it folks; prepare yourselves for reality.

lake martin real estate water alabama powerAlabama Power owns the hydroelectric Martin Dam that dams the Tallapoosa River, creating Lake Martin.  They control the water level to try and balance their power generating needs with ecological effects, recreational effects, and the commercial navigation of the Alabama River, which is downstream of the Tallapoosa.

Alabama Power is currently distributing the word through news agencies and their own press releases  that we had better be ready for a long, dry summer.

 

Related Posts:

When Does The Water Level Go Down On Lake Martin?
Mythbuster: Alabama Power Leased Lots – Lake Martin

Mythbuster: Alabama Power Leased Lots – Lake Martin

Lake Martin Alabama power leased lotAlabama Power has leased waterfront lots on Lake Martin for decades.  Yet, so much rumor, speculation, and innuendo surrounds the topic it remains mysterious to many people, real estate agents included.

Allow me to try to bust the myth on this subject.

Why are there leased lots on Lake Martin?

Lake Martin dam alabama power real estateLake Martin was created in 1923 when the Southern Company (Alabama Power) built Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River.  They bought up all of the eventual waterfront at the elevation of 490 feet above sea level.  Since old Mr. Ben Russell (founder of Russell Mills), already owned the damming rights to the Tallapoosa, the Power Company swapped him those rights for one half of the waterfront.  Pretty much every inch of the 700 miles of waterfront of Lake Martin at one time or another was owned by either Alabama Power or Old Mr. Ben.

When did Alabama Power begin to lease lots on Lake Martin?

Sometime around in the 1960s, Alabama Power allowed people to build homes on the waterfront, but they retained ownership of the land underneath the home.  The people own the sticks and bricks, the company owns the dirt.  The people paid a monthly lease to do so.  Over the years, depending on the opinions of officers at Alabama Power, the homeowners were given the chance to buy the dirt under their homes.  No rhyme or reason to it, some years they would decide to sell, other years they would institute leases.  That policy continues today.  Who knows, they may decide to start selling lots to leaseholders tomorrow.  They might not.

How does a lot lease work on Lake Martin?

These days, when Alabama Power leases a waterfront lot to homeowners, they have a written lease, just like you would for an apartment.  The lease specifies the monthly rate (currently around $400), the length of the lease (currently twenty years), and the yearly increase of the rate.  The key here is that every lot is different, so if you’re concerned, consult a lawyer.  Alabama Power assigns the lease amount when they offer new lots for lease.  They offer the lots in a bid system, meaning, the homeowners bid offers of cash to pay for the privilege of entering the lease.  If you are the top bidder, then you must pay the monthly lease rate on top of that.

What happens at the lease end?

Again, you must examine each lease to be sure of how it works.  But generally speaking, at the end of the lease, one of 4 things can happen:

1.  Alabama Power renews the lease
2.  Alabama Power sells you the lot
3.  Alabama Power buys the house from you
4.  You pick up the house and leave.

My family has been selling real estate in the Lake Martin area since 1953.  We have never heard of Alabama Power buying a house, or making someone move their house away.  Not that it is impossible, but it is, in my opinion, highly, highly, improbable.  Most of the time they either renew the lease or sell you the lot.  Once again, if in doubt, talk to a lawyer.

Can you sell a leased lot home?

One word answer – YES.  There are plenty of great leased lot homesLake Martin real estate for sale now (like this one) on Lake Martin and many that have sold in the past.  Generally speaking, you can get more house or view for your money on a leased lot house than you can on a deeded lot home, because of the existence of the lease. The transaction works just like a deeded lot sale, except you have the added step of transferring the lease to the new owner.  Alabama Power must approve this transfer, but usually it’s just a matter of paperwork.

Can you finance a leased lot home?

YES – easily.  I almost always recommend that Lake Martin buyers use lenders from around the lake.  Not because I am related to any many of them, but because lake financing is usually a bit different than your standard McHouse in McSuburbia.  Local lenders are especially handy when it comes to financing a leased lot home.  They are familiar with all of the documentation, so it’s a lot easier to work with them.

Do you own a leased lot home and have some advice to add?  Or maybe you have questions that I haven’t answered here.  If so, please comment on this post and I will do my best to answer anything else.

Related posts:

When Does The Water Level Go Down On Lake Martin?

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Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: Bolton Cove Update

Lake Martin has a lot of development and new construction going on right now. One of the newest neighborhoods is called Bolton Cove. Below are some pictures of the construction progress, and how it compares to their plans.

Lake Martin Bolton cove real estate

Will the above be the site of the Bolton Cove Clubhouse?

Bolton cove ClubHouseStand-in
The above is a rendering of the planned Bolton Cove Clubhouse per the developer.

Lake Martin Bolton cove villaTo the left is an example of the “Tuscan inspired lake homes that will be the theme throughout Bolton Cove. I doubt you will be able to rent any of these.

Below is a pic, I assume of home sites, next to an existing Lake Martin home that is Lake Martin Bolton cove bordernot part of the project.

lake martin Bolton cove new constructionThe pic to the left was made standing on the south end of the cove, looking west to the back of that slough. I couldn’t easily tell by looking around how much waterfront the lots will have on Lake Martin. Maybe the next time I check I will be able to see some stakes or something.

Planned amenities of Bolton Cove:

The Bolton Cove Manor provides:

  • A community meeting room
  • Dressing areas
  • Swimming pool
  • Hot tub
  • Covered pavilions
  • Outdoor fireplace
  • Lake side beach

Concierge services:

  • Boat valet to the marina
  • Private slips
  • Lawn care
  • Hosting for Manor events

Directions to Bolton Cove:

To find Bolton Cove by land, from Birmingham you take 280 east, then take a right on highway 9 south at Kellyton, Alabama. Then take a left on Coosa County Road 20 east. Take Coosa 20 east until you take a right on the second Bywater Road, Bolton Cove is immediately on your left. You can take a left on Kowaliga Cove Road, it borders some of Bolton Cove, too.

From Montgomery, take Alabama highway 9 north, take a right on 259 north at Equality, then a right on Coosa 20 east, see above.

From Auburn take 280 west, then take a left on 22 west in Alex City, then a left on 259 south, then left on Coosa 20 east, see above.

By water, you need to be on the Kowaliga side of Lake Martin. Go north towards Willow Point. Pass by Sand Island. Head towards Veazy’s Marina and Scrushy’s house. When you see the point across the water from Veazy’s, hang a left and go west. Bolton Cove is almost directly west of Veazy’s.

Related post:

Have You Heard About These 4 New Projects On Lake Martin?

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Lake Martin Builder Spotlight: Landmark Constr.

lake martin builder constructionLake Martin is bustling with developers, builders, sub contractors, and all types of people in the construction industry.  To shed some light on the life of one of the “good ones,” today we chat with Bradley Pemberton of Landmark Construction & Development, LLC:


1.  How do you get your sub contractors to show up on time?
 

I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere.  Seriously, I think it has to do with a number of things. First you have to know what “on time” means – proper expectations. You have to know what their work schedule will be on each project, because it will be different depending on the sub and job location.  More importantly, I think if you’re honest, pay them quickly, and accept their bid without trying to beat them down, they will respect you more and work as hard and be as productive as they can.

2.  Where do you find sub contractors that will work on Lake Martin?

These days subs will come from all over to work on Lake Martin.  I like to deal with those whom I know best and already understand their schedules and quality of work. So I will first choose subs that I like to work with that are based closest to the area.  For me that means Wetumpka, Eclectic, and Montgomery.  However it is easy to find subs in Alexander City and Birmingham.

3.  You have built all over Alabama.  What is different about building around Lake Martin?

I like several things that have been different.  I like that Tallapoosa County issues Lake Martin builder contractorbuilding permits for all projects outside of the city limits. I think this helps legitimize the contractors and maintains a level of quality for all builders.  I have enjoyed working on lots with a little change in elevation.  It’s a challenge but a lot more exciting.  You know, Montgomery is not known for its beautiful mountain views; it’s pretty flat.

4.  How do you build a spec house that is attractive to many people yet not so “cookie cutter” or clone looking?

I think you have to really concentrate on the details and the exterior.  I think custom details that either come from ideas from previous custom homes or details specific to that house that present themselves as an opportunity to make a mark, are what you have to look for.  I think you have to do the same thing either in exterior details like the eave, you know, around the roof, or on the site with landscaping or railing details. The look these days at Lake Martin is exposed natural wood, tongue and groove, stone work, with the house done in earth tone type colors.  I like a lot of stone both inside and out, cedar beams, tongue and groove ceilings, that type thing.

5.  What question did I not ask that you thought I would have asked?

I thought you would ask what I like most about construction.  And the answer is that I love to solve problems and work out the small, (seemingly) inconsequential details.  More than that, I like to see something created from a combination of materials and people’s God given abilities.  It is so fun to ride by a project and be able to proudly say “I built that.”

 

 

Thanks, Bradley, for your time.  We wish you continued success in the future.  If you would like to know how Bradley can answer your Lake Martin construction questions, call him at (334)356–2259 or contact him at Landmark Construction and Development, LLC’s home page by clicking here.

Free Boats At The Ridge Boat Show & Spring Home Tour

lake martin the Ridge marina boat showFree boats Lake Martin!!

Russell Lands’ big event is the Russell Marine In-Water Boat Show and Spring Tour of Homes at The Ridge. It is scheduled for two weekends, April 28 & 29 and also May 5 & May 6.

For the past couple of years, Russell Lands has done a couple of the Tour of Homes deals per year at The Ridge. This year they are combining it with a Boat Show at the Ridge Marina, hence the lengthy title “Russell Marine In-Water Boat Show & Spring Tour of Homes.

Basically you can go out to the Ridge Marina and test drive some boats. I understand theylake martin the ridge tour of homes will have ski boats, Hurricanes, pontoon boats, etc. Then, you hop in the car and go on the Spring Tour of Homes at the Ridge. Each of the featured homes will have a nice new boat parked out front.

Here it is – the payoff – the “free boat – : “if you buy one of the nine feature(d) homes you will also receive a brand new boat from Russell Marine.

Considering that the nine featured homes are all priced at over $1 million, the “free boat is a nice gesture, but it’s not like it’s worth 10% of the home’s value or anything.

But, if you or any of your loved ones need a house and a boat, and would like to buy one (or all!) nine homes, and would like to receive one or nine “free boats, just give me a call, I would be glad to arrange it!

Related Articles:

Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: The Ridge

Hey Lake Martin Fishermen – Live Bait For Sale!

Kowaliga live bait and tackle - croppedLake Martin live bait fishermen have a new spot to buy bait.  Kowaliga Live Bait And Tackle is open for business.  The new store on Kowaliga Road (aka Highway 63) is south of Kowaliga Bridge.  In fact, it’s just south of my office, a tad north of the intersection with Highway 229.

The other day while driving to my office, I saw their sign, and I was so surprised that I chuckled.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I can’t remember the last time a new bait shop opened on Lake Martin.

Then, I was surprised that I was surprised.  Why not a new live bait shop?  Lake Martin has 700 miles of shoreline spread over 40,000 acres, and great fishing.  So why isn’t the live bait industry thriving right now?

When I was growing up on Lake Martin, if you wanted to fish, most of Lake Martin fishing real estatethe time you used bait.  You could stop by any old fillin station and at the very least they would sell crickets and worms.  It was commonplace.  In these days of clean, sparkly, mega-marts that sell hamburgers, haircuts, sub sandwiches, and also gas, the live bait selection has suffered.  You really have to hunt around to find it.  And even then, it’s hard to find the OSHA-defying oily tubs packed with minnows, and the stench, activity, and din of a room full of crickets.  To me, surviving a trip to the bait shop was half the fun of fishing.

Lake Martin is changing.  Is it just me, or are there really fewer live bait fishermen out there today?  The fish are still there.  Are they only being pursued by the plastic worm wielders and buzz bait boys?  Or are the fishermen being replaced by boaters?  I don’t fish as much as I used to; work is my excuse.  I’m looking forward to fishing a lot more this summer with my sons.

Lake Martin real estate cricketIncidentally, isn’t it also a sign of the times that the live bait guy has protected his business by forming an LLC?  Really – an actual legal entity was formed for the purposes, I assume, of “sellin crickets, worms, & minners.”  I applaud Kowaliga Live Bait And Tackle, and wish them the best of luck.  The next time my boys are at the cabin, our first trip will be to this new live bait guy.

If you have a tip on where else to find good bait – leave a comment / reply to this post and let us all know where to go…