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Archive for the 'Lake Martin' Category

Lake Martin A Top 12 US Vacation Home Market

lake martin real estate award wall street journalThe Lake Martin real estate market was honored again on November 9, 2006, by the Wall Street Journal’s RealEstateJournal.com, by being named a Top 12 Vacation Home market in the United States.

Regional and even national accolades are becoming common for Lake Martin.  In other words, the news is getting out.  I usually don’t pay much attention to such press, but this one really got my attention.  Not that I don’t agree, I honestly believe we have a national treasure in our backyard.  I can’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want a place on Lake Martin.  I guess what really got my attention was the source: THE Wall Street Journal – the Beacon of Capitalism, the paper divinely scribed by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand itself.  I love it.  I could read it with my hair on fire, as they say.   So when they honored the lake – I noticed – and so did millions of other readers.

Economists and writers can study and parse data all they want, but they are merely confirming what we all know to be Nerdtrue.  That is, while Lake Martin real estate prices have certainly risen in the last five years, on a national level we are still a relative bargain.  And here’s a more important fact but you can’t graph it – Lake Martin is one heck of a beautiful place.  I grew up on the lake, and therefore have talked to a lot of people about their families’ experiences here.  Maybe I have only met the happy ones, but I have never met a single person that said “you know I really regret buying that place on Lake Martin.”  Plenty have said “man, the biggest mistake I made was selling (or letting mama / daddy sell) that lake place.”  Nobody ever quotes their Return On Asset or their Debt To Equity Ratio of their lake home.  They talk about memories, fun, water, boats, fish and sun.

If you don’t like to hear all of that stuff, I’ll return to the hard facts of the Journal article.  Sure, Lake Martin has beautiful water, great views, peaceful mornings, fun nights – a rich, memory making Petri dish.  So do a lot of places in the nation.  But what we do have – that most don’t – are low property prices relative to the rest of the country.  I know it sounds crazy to the folks who have watched the prices rise – but the Journal’s statisticians looked and found that the property prices in Dadeville, Alabama – one of the towns close to Lake Martin – had really low property prices for second homes relative to local income and other economic factors.  In other words, they found that chances are slim that we are experiencing a dreaded B-word in real estate prices. I agree with them.  I also agree that there are certain segments of the market that have a lot of supply or are overpriced or both.  But, when compared as a whole to the rest of the nation’s vacation markets, we’re still a bargain – and a memory maker to boot.

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Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: Willow Point

Willow Point Lake Martin Real Estate logoWillow Point was the first Lake Martin neighborhood by developer Russell Lands.  After years of having only rental cabins, Russell Lands started a new era in Lake Martin real estate by developing and selling high end deeded lots in the early 1970s.

Willow Point is unique in that it is the only Russell Lands development that currently has a private golf and country club.  The Willow Point Golf and Country Club was founded in 1964.  It is truly a gated community, where you are stopped at the gate by a guard and you must show your ownership sticker or explain your business.

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

Willow Point has a Championship Grade 18 hole, par 72 golf course that twists and turns and follows Lake Martin’s shores.  Eight holes are bordered by the Lake, and hole number 13 is a par three island green.  As you can imagine, the rest of the holes have plenty of water, too.  If your skill level is like mine, be prepared to lose some golf balls.  They also have tennis courts, rental villas for members, a restaurant, bar and grill, fitness center, and pool.  It is truly a beautiful club.

Real estate prices in Willow Point have historically been among the strongest on Lake Lake Martin Willow point real estateMartin.  Vacant lots are rare since the development is almost built out.  Lots start in the 400s and go up from there.  Residences range from town homes to the biggest home on the lake, the mammoth compound of infamous (former) HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.  If you have ever seen it by water, you know it.  It is the top attraction on the “big house” boat tour.

Willow Point has the benefit of being inside the city limits of Alexander City, which means it has all of the utilities and conveniences thereof.  This was once a huge benefit 30 years ago when almost no other area of Lake Martin had trash, phone, and cable services.  Now this is not such an advantage, but Willow Point does boast another unmatched amenity: a paved, lighted airstrip.  The Russell Airfield is 4,500 feet long, so you plane owners should know if you can land there or not.

With all of the benefits listed above, Willow Point will likely continue to have a strong position in the real estate market on Lake Martin.

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Alabama Bloggers Carnival – April 23, 2007

Welcome to the April 23, 2007 version of the Alabama Bloggers Carnival. A blog carnival showcases different blogs that have something in common – in our case – we are all Alabama Bloggers.

Since I am admittedly the odd blog in this carnival, being the only real estate blog in the midst of political / cultural commenters, this theme will come off a bit forced. But, I thought our theme could be that of a politically charged shin dig held at a home on Lake Martin.

Whom do we find at the party?

Julie Green of Degree of Madness has barely made it in the front door before she heads to the kitchen to give us a taste of her bile for the legislature with It’s the pits.

TD of The Right Track holds court in the somber confines of the study with comments on the Virginia Tech tragedy in Hopeless Helpless and Lost and Gun Free Zones of Death.

Scott Allen of Scott Allen’s Thoughts is quite the mingler. Instead of camping out in just one room of the party, we bump into him in the bathroom with Sadly it has come to this and, then, very late in the party, in the TV room with More Virginia Tech Thoughts.

Wrapping it up, in the entertainment room we find carnival founder c.a. Marks at Alabama Improper with Sports & Coyote Ugly.

I hope everybody drives carefully home from the party. The next edition will be at Degree of Madness.

Ricky Bobby And NASCAR Coming To Lake Martin?

No vacancy Lake MartinIs it true that one of the events that affects Lake Martin area hotels is a NASCAR race?  Absolutely.  A recent article in the Alexander City Outlook points out that area hotels are jam packed with race fans whenever the track at Talladega is running.  The spring and fall races are so big that they top even Auburn football games in terms of economic impact.

How can this be?  The Talladega Superspeedway is only about 45 minutes from Alexander City.  When a NASCAR race is at Talladega hotels and restaurants in a 150 mile radius are affected.  Talladega has a capacity of about 143,000 official seats and allows hordes to crowd the infield.  People also camp outside the track for days.  It is crazy.

Ricky Bobby Lake martinNeedless to say, that craziness means dollars to cities nearby, and the Lake Martin area is no exception.  So, if you are reserving rooms around the Lake, you may want to avoid the weekends of  April 29 and October 7, 2007.  If you plan to cruise around the hotels looking for NASCAR celebrities, don’t bother.  Ricky Bobby and all of the other big hairy American winning machines fly home after the race.

Top 5 Shortcuts To Lake Martin

Lake Martin al Holding mapLooking for the fastest directions to Lake Martin? Or maybe a better way to get there from here? We all have our tried and true routes, but recent road work has opened up a few new ways to get to the fun faster. Also included are a few well worn trails, so take a look – maybe it will give you more time on the water!

  1. 1. From Montgomery / Atlanta to Blue Creek / Stillwaters / County Road 34 – Now the fastest way to get to the east side of Lake Martin is to take Interstate 85 to the Tuskegee exit (#32) and take Alabama Highway 49 North. This route is back in action since they have fixed the bridge over Sougahatchee Creek. It is windy and wicked but the best way to get to everything east of Chuck’s Marina. West of Chuck’s to Martin Dam, it’s a toss up between this way and taking AL highway 229 at the Tallassee exit.

2. From Birmingham to Parker Creek / Real Island – unless you are in the Oakachoy Slough (in which case take 280 into Alex City & Elkahatchee Road) – then the best way to get from Birmingham to this side of Lake Martin is to take highway 280 to Alabama Highway 9 South in Kellyton. From Highway 9, take either Coosa 20, Coosa 2, or Highway 259 to Coosa 24.

3. From Auburn – If you are heading to the south end of Lake Martin, take Shug Jordan Parkway to North Donahue to due west on Lee County 72, to west on Alabama Highway 50. If you are headed to the north (Alex City) end of the lake, take 280 west.

4. Highway 229 from Tallassee to Little Kowaliga – If you are heading on north 229 from Tallassee and are headed to Little Kowaliga, there’s no need to follow 229 to 63 and then go south to Elmore County 80. Take a left on Elmore County 357 aka Deer Track Road. Take a left on 407 (East Cotton Road). Continue on 407 as you cross Highway 63. 407 will T into Elmore County Road 80 at Mt. Hebron. That one will save you 10 minutes.

5. From Coosa 2 to Parker Island Road / Coosa 24 / The Needles Eye – I saved the best for last. For anyone lake martin Car in mudtrying to get from the Real Island / Parker Creek Marina area to the Needles Eye area, you know that getting around that slough takes forever. But – the shortcut is a dirt road that is on Coosa 2 about 1 mile west of where Elmore 55 intersects it. This road runs north and south between Coosa 2 and Coosa 24. It crosses the headwaters of Parker Creek, so it can be muddy. I’m sorry I don’t know the name of the road, but … isn’t that the case with all of the best shortcuts?

Know another great shortcut or cut through? Let me hear about it! I am already compiling another list for my next post. Don’t worry, you’ll get the credit.

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5 Mistakes When Buying Real Estate On Lake Martin

Lake Martin House in waterIt’s easy to make mistakes when buying a home or lot on Lake Martin. Whether you are a wizened real estate pro or a newcomer looking for your first property, there are some pitfalls that everyone needs to avoid. Heck, you could say that about anywhere, though, because real estate is such a local thing. I make my living selling real estate in the Lake Martin area, but if you dropped me off in Craig, Colorado, or Nicholasville, Kentucky, I would be just as lost and in need of local advice as the next guy. Here are 5 mistakes that you can avoid on Lake Martin (no particular order of importance):

1. Don’t waste your time calculating price per square foot of waterfront homes. As a former math major and current recovering accountant, I struggle to ignore this siren call every day of my life. I want so badly to have a piece of data like this to graph, make bar charts, build trend analysis, and otherwise calculate to the fifth decimal point. Alas, it is useless. So much of the market value of a Lake Martin waterfront home is in the lot, not the home. The lot drives the price, and very few lots on the lake are exactly the same. Even when the lots are pretty comparable, the homes are different, even on the same street. Yuppies in McMansions sit next to rasslin fans in shacks. Even in neighborhoods of similar construction, the lot drives the price.

2. Calculating price per waterfront foot of a lot is almost as useless. Well okay, you say, since on Lake Martin the lot drives the price, why can’t we value a lot by comparing it to other lots that have sold and divide sold prices by the amount of feet of waterfront they had? Nice try, but this still will trip you up. You can apply rules of thumb, such as, anything over 200 feet on a point lot should be priced at a premium, but you still have variables Lake Martin Math frustrationsuch as view, steepness of lot, etc. If you have a swampy 300 foot lot in the back of a cove that is on 1 foot deep water and the neighbor’s dock is 3 feet from yours, it will sell for much less than a gently sloping, 200 foot lot with a “big water view and a sandy beach. Try to graph that relationship; I dare you. I have tried and failed. I am considering creating a prestigious prize to challenge the nerd community, maybe they can come up with one.

3. You bought the house but you don’t own the lot underneath it. In most cases, when you buy a home on the lake, it is on a deeded lot. But, some homes on Lake Martin are built on leased lots. That means you own the home and all other improvements on the property, but Alabama Power owns the dirt. You lease it from them and pay them a monthly lease fee. When you buy the home you assume the terms of the lease that the previous owner negotiated with Alabama Power. Monthly lease rates and terms vary widely. Have an attorney check the lease before you buy. All other things being equal, a house on a deeded lot is worth more than the same one on a leased lot.

4. You take time to think about it. Contrary to a lot of other second home markets in the South, Lake Martin is still a sellers’ market. Sure, some sellers put ridiculous prices on their homes and therefore they take a while to sell. But if it is priced right, property still moves in a matter of days, not weeks. I’m not advising running out and buying willy-nilly, no. Let a local real estate agent help you. Do all of your research very carefully so that you know exactly what you want and how much you would like to invest. That way when something pops up on the Lake Martin MLS that you like, you can move swiftly and with confidence. Once you decide to offer, do it fast.

5. You don’t make an offer because the seller is asking too much. Lake Martin real estate Howling ape regretfulAs I mentioned above, Lake Martin is in a sellers’ market right now, but sometimes things are still overpriced. I advise buyers to make an offer based on what they would pay. You never know, sometimes the seller will come to their senses and back off a ridiculous asking price. Maybe your offer will finally convince the seller to come down. Too many times I have heard buyers say, once discovering the selling price of a property they liked, “if I would have known they would have taken that, I would have bought it. The only way to find out is to pony up and make an offer.

Can you think of any other mistakes people make? Leave a comment below, and we will edit this article to include your submission!

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Jazz Fest 2007 at the Lake Martin Amphitheater

Lake Martin Jazz fest band The Jazz Fest– the Lake Martin area annual music festival that is free to the public – has been scheduled for Friday June 8th and Saturday June 9th, 2007.  Mark your calendars and plan to be in the area, because, as always, some great bands will be on hand to entertain you.

The music on Friday night will be held under the stars in downtown Alex CitySaturday night it will be at the Lake Martin Amphitheater just south of the Kowaliga Bridge on AL Highway 63.  I’m giving you plenty of notice so that you Lake Martin Jazz Fest Drumswon’t miss the biggest area concert event of the year.  It’s a BYOB event, so you won’t get stuck buying a 12 ounce cup of beer for $12, but it is also BYO common sense, so please drink responsibly.Lake Martin trumpet

Just because the admission is free doesn’t mean that the music stinks. In fact the Jazz Fest has a reputation for booking folks just before they make it big.  I am on the Jazz Fest Committee this year and you can be assured that this year will be no exception.  I will post the lineup here as soon as they have it booked.  Last year they had bands like Tinsley Ellis, the Subdudes, Marc Broussard, and the Deadstring Brothers in the lineup.

In prior years such names as Los Lonely Boys, The Derek Trucks Band, bluesman Taj Mahal, Bela Fleck and the FlecktonesDickey Betts, the Radiators, and Dr. John have made the event a must do for anyone in the Lake Martin area.

If you would like to help the event remain free (read … donate and become a sponsor) you can either go through the contacts on the Jazz Fest web site or you can contact me.  If you just want to enjoy the music, great, I will see you there!

BONUS TIPThe Derek Trucks Band– is scheduled to play again at the Lake Martin Derek trucks at Lake MartinAmphitheater on Memorial Day weekend, Sunday May 27, 2007.  Gates open at 4:30 PM, but you’ll have to pay to see this show.  I’ll post ticket details as soon as they come available.

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Heard About These 4 New Projects On Lake Martin?

Psssst .. There are 4 new construction projects on Lake Martin that might be news to you. Lake Martin Real estateEveryone loves a juicy piece of gossip, and the only thing growing faster than the Lake Martin real estate market is the grapevine that spreads the news about it. Are any of the new construction projects below going to be near your lake place, or the one you plan to buy?

  1. 1. The Bluffs at Copper Creek
  • Location – Off of Centerport Road and Highway 50
  • Concept – Condominiums
  • Density – 8 buildings – 3 stories each, 10 units per building or 80 total
  • Price Range – looks like the first phase is $341,000 to $431,000
  • Available – First buildings to be ready by “late Summer 07
  • Lowdown – This is on the Cooper Branch of Blue Creek. How they got from Cooper to Copper I do not know. Maybe there is a Copper Creek in Cooper Branch. They’re still working out details such as boat slips and amenities.

2. Waterstone

  • Location – Near Nero’s Rock Road off of Elmore County Road 80 and Highway 63
  • Concept – turn key homes, community waterfront
  • Density – there are 93 lots for sale on the master plan
  • Price Range – 4 different house plans from $289,900 – $319,900
  • Available – taking reservations, no construction is apparent right now
  • Lowdown – 93 homes on about 12 acres (per tax map). None of them will own waterfront. There will be a zone along the shoreline that apparently will be owned by the Homeowners’ Association. The 8 planned docks will be community property as well.

3. Crowne Pointe

  • Location – Take Highway 50 to Centerport Road to Silverhill Road, all the way at the end of the peninsula
  • Concept – Condominiums
  • Density – 5 buildings, 3 stories each, 18 units per building or 90 total
  • Price Range – resales are priced from $375,000 to $610,000
  • Available – all 5 buildings still under construction, buildings 1 & 2 – Spring 2007, 17 for sale on MLS now (you can search it by clicking “MLS Listing Search” on the right margin, no strings attached)
  • Lowdown – These units were the priciest until the Ledges at the Ridge and The Pointe in Stillwaters. They took a long time to get going, but they’re closing in on being ready. Big water views abound.

4. Bolton Cove

  • Lake Martin yada yadaLocation – Take Highway 9 to Highway 259 to Coosa County Road 20
  • Concept – 25 Tuscan villas based around and sharing a Manor, pool, beach, and various concierge services
  • Density – 25 home sites
  • Price Range – according to the website $700,000 to over $1 million
  • Available – taking reservations, construction is not apparent right now
  • Lowdown – I guess if the Maestro has Tuscany locked down, Jerry Seinfeld can get a villa here on Lake Martin

Click here for Bolton Cove Update

Do you see any corrections that I need to make? What about construction updates? Has anyone heard of any other new developments? Break the news here by writing a comment below.

When does the Water Level go down on Lake Martin?

Lake Martin Water LevelWhen does the water go down?  Does this house have water year round?  

I hear this a lot.  When people are looking for homes or a lot on Lake Martin, they soon learn that the lake’s water level fluctuates.  Depending on your preferences, this might affect where on the lake you choose to be.  If you are not aware of the lake level’s changes, it may affect how happy you are with your purchase.  If you want to be able to take a New Year’s Eve boat ride, you will be disappointed if you are high and dry with no water in the winter.  Or, maybe you prefer a quiet cove off of the main thoroughfare.  In that case, don’t over pay for a place that doesn’t fit your needs.  You need to learn a little about Lake Martin in order to make the right decision. 

Why does the lake level go up and down?  First, you need to know that Lake Martin was created back in then 1920s when the company that is now Alabama Power dammed the Tallapoosa River.  The Tallapoosa River joins the Coosa River to form the Alabama River near Montgomery.  The Alabama flows all the way to Mobile Bay, and is a navigable river. The Alabama River must maintain a certain level so that barges can move up and down it.   

So, part of the reason the Martin Dam exists is to ensure that the Alabama has a certain amount of water flow.  Since Alabama Power owns the dam, they (with permission of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) decide how to regulate the water level.  So how does this affect your lake house?

Read the rest of this entry »

Alabama Blogger Carnival – June 25, 2007

The Alabama Bloggers must be at the beach for the summer, because we only got 3 submissions this week. Kudos to those who checked in with the office to get it done.

Sniper One has been busy – two submissions in one week. I guess his spotter is helping him reload quickly. In his first post, Sniper One presents Pakistan Honors Osama In Response To Rushdie Knighthood posted at “7.62mm Justice” . As always, he pulls no punches.

His second post is entitled “Jimmy Peanut: Stop Supporting Fatah over Hamas. Alas, I cannot supply a link here because he gets a little blue. You can read it at “7.62mm Justice” . I understand and recognize the Sniper’s free speech rights, but the Voice has language restrictions a tad more modest than the barracks or gun range. But, an interesting article at any rate.

Moving on, Nicki presents Red Cross puts social networking and online tools to good use posted at The Birthplace of the Process of Illogical Logic. I have never read her blog before this, and I welcome her to the blogosphere.

Next week – click here to see who the next host of the Alabama Bloggers Carnival will be.

Thanks!