Archive for the 'Neighborhoods' Category

It Takes a Village

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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.

It truly takes a village of people to help buyers purchase a home here at Lake Martin.

Sure, you might be tempted to think that the only people involved are real estate agents and lenders.  While they are a great idea, agents and lenders are not necessary.  I will say that, according to the National Association of Realtors, 87 percent of buyers used Realtors last year to help them in their purchases.  Since I am an agent, this recommendation won’t surprise you, but I do think a great agent more than pays for himself or herself.  Choose one wisely.

Your agent should also be able to help you find additional people to assist in your purchase.  An effective agent should have the contact information of the below folks ready at a moment’s notice.

A first person you might need is a good general contractor or GC.  A GC’s advice can give you the data you need to be confident about your decision to negotiate with the seller and get a written contract.  You may need them to walk through the home on which you have selected to make an offer if there are big repair items, but please do not drag the GC around to every single home you view.  You want them to actually return your call when it really counts.

One of the first things to do after you have a written contract is to think about the land on which the home sits.  Before you even get to the house, it is a good idea to hire a surveyor.

When you consider that most of the value of a waterfront home is in the dirt, it’s a good idea to get data on that dirt.  A surveyor can help.  Some buyers elect to go pretty light here and only ask the surveyor to “mark the corners.”  This means simply finding each point of the property line and putting up some sort of marker.

Another option, albeit more expensive, is to get a complete survey of the property and its improvements.  At the end of this operation, you would be handed (or emailed) a survey that shows the home, the dock, the driveway and just about anything else that is on the lot.  A drawing like this can be extremely useful for future expansions but also could be helpful in case your neighbors get – shall we say – liberal with the placement of their yard art.

Most buyers are attuned to the fact that a home inspector is a critical part of the process. Make sure the one you hire after you are under contract is certified.

My personal theory on home negotiation is not to use the inspector as a way to nickel and dime the seller into having to repair every little scratch on the home; remember, most of the time the value of a Lake Martin home is in the lot anyway.  It’s just my opinion, but even though I like an inspector to point out every blemish, I am just looking for the big things.  I am mainly concerned about the expensive systems or potential repairs.  I think buyers should approach inspections with the mindset of priority, ranking the repairs according to their preferences.

Contrastingly, some aggressive buyers in our current seller’s market are forgoing a home inspection.  The mindset of these buyers is that they want to make their offers more attractive to the sellers, thus beating out any potential competing offers, since the purchase is not subject to an inspection.  If you choose that route, be careful, and be sure you understand all the risks.

A septic inspector is also a very important person, and this inspection also should be set up after the contract is signed.  A septic inspector is needed because of two factors: 1) most home inspectors will not include the septic system in the scope of the home inspection; and 2) almost every single home on Lake Martin is on a septic system.

Many of the septic tanks were built in a time when there was no building code in effect.  In fact, the only time the word ‘code’ came up back then was to describe the Lake’s temperature in January.  Septic inspections are not a must for every purchase, but a buyer would be wise to at least consider it.

Next comes a termite inspector, who is usually paid by the seller, but that’s negotiable.  This is a totally separate inspection, done by a pest control professional.

Usually a termite inspector issues a Wood Infestation Report, or a WIR.  A WIR will tell you if, on the particular day and time inspected, the home had active or previous infestations of termites, powder post beetles and/or wood-decaying fungi.

Many people I talk to think this is a bond that guarantees against the cost of future infestation. It is not the same thing.  If you want a termite bond, negotiate for it.  A WIR is only a snapshot of that day.

Also, unless the house is brand new, I would expect previous infestation.  Most waterfront homes on Lake Martin are older and have battled the humidity of the South.  This usually yields some sort of previous infestation.  Don’t let this freak you out unless the damage is so great that your home inspector is concerned.

An active infestation, however, is a showstopper.  You had better get those nasties out of there before you buy the house.

A dock person is another lake-specific professional that might not translate to your hometown.  Every Lake Martin home is different, but this could potentially be an expensive repair or an important part of a planned renovation.

If the home you like has a dock that only needs a few top boards replaced, then it is no problem. Your solution could be a carpenter if the job is that light; however, if the dock is about to fall in, or if illegal foam has been used on the floating dock, you need to get the advice of a contractor that specializes in dock construction.  A regular home inspection does not usually cover the dock or seawall; so don’t rely on it here.  Get a specialist to review the situation.

Similarly, you might need to get a dock contractor’s advice if you plan a big expansion.  What if your planned expansion would run afoul of dock regulations?  Is that a deal breaker for you? Then you had better include that in your negotiations with the seller.

Selecting a good attorney is often the last choice made in the purchase process, but that does not mean it is an unimportant one.

First of all, pick someone that is a good explainer.  I have been selling real estate on Lake Martin for more than 10 years, and I still learn something new at each closing.  When you have questions about something as important and expensive as a home purchase, it helps to have a good teacher on your side instead of a person that just spouts legal jargon.

Another critical point in selecting an attorney is his or her local title search expertise.  Just because your cousin Vinny is awesome at health care law in New Jersey doesn’t mean he is good at searching title at Lake Martin.  Our lake counties are rural areas (thank the Lord), and the title chain often includes some cornbread and collards stains.  The local title agents know the twists and turns of the local courthouses.  Pick a good one and trust the one you pick, but get the title insurance anyway because no one is perfect.

I may have left a few villagers out, but hopefully, I have named most of them.

 

 

 

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Do Restrictions Constrict at Lake Martin?

 

lake martin alabama deed restrictions covenants
Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine. I also published it on my column on al.com – where I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for AL.com.

Bob and Susie Q. Buyer have found a way to buy a Lake Martin waterfront home that will pay for itself!

It’s easy money, they think.

They have done their due diligence (i.e. watch HGTV) and are ready to make their move. They have found the perfect little Lake Martin waterfront cabin. It’s on a beautiful lot with 500 feet of waterfront. When they noticed that house is crammed over to one side of the lot, it gave Bob and Susie Q. their idea. They buy the home, cut the lot in half, sell the lot, and pay for their entire purchase.

They can’t miss, right?

I can think of two reasons they will.

Firstly, they might need to consider that HGTV is carried on the cable networks of Charter, Com-Link Inc. and Dish here at little ‘ole Lake Martin. In other words, we know how to flip (and flop) here, too. If a deal is that much of a layup, it will likely be scooped up by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand way before it comes on their radar up there in the big city.

Secondly, the biggest reason is that the lot is restricted. Well, I should say that there is a 98% chance it is restricted and therefore they cannot split the lot. The seller is selling the lot subject to the same deed restrictions which they bought, and at Lake Martin, that means you can’t split it, among other things.

Yes, there are some needles in the haystack here and there. But, the last time I looked for a buyer, I reviewed the 100 or so waterfront lots for sale on the lake and only found two or three that were truly unrestricted.

If you are unfamiliar with deed restrictions, think about the neighborhood where you live just outside of Gotham. Most neighborhoods have their own set of rules about what kind of home you can build. They might also have rules that state the minimum size a home can be, how close it can be placed to the lot lines, the materials used, or any number of things.

Still other neighborhoods have “Architectural Review Boards” which is a committee of residents tasked with making sure all new construction fits the Homeowner Association’s guidelines.  These are all “deed restrictions” because they are part of the deed when you bought your house.

I hear from buyers all the time that let me know that they want a waterfront lot that is, in their words, “unrestricted.” When they mention that, I always ask them if they plan to split the lot or build two homes on a lot. Usually, they say no. Most of the time buyers think unrestricted refers to controls like architectural review committees.

They don’t want anyone telling them what color paint to use on their deck.

This also comes up when people want to be able to park their RV on the lot for a few years before they build their home. Or, they even might want to park the RV during the precious few months of home construction. Most formal neighborhoods and county road plats at Lake Martin have restrictions against this.

Other buyers might like to put a manufactured home on the lot, and keep it like that as long as possible. Again, it’s equally difficult to find a lot that would allow this.

Does that mean all restrictions are bad? If your neighbor split his lot into 30 parts and plans to sell them all to the highest bidders, would you be excited about it?

The point here is that each lot buyer must not go around making assumptions. Don’t assume that all restrictions are “bad,” or that any restrictions are “good.” One must behold any deed restrictions with one’s own eye and decide beauty.

How does one do that?

You verify before you buy.

After that, it’s too late. Therefore, a buyer with concerns about when can be done on the lot should include a contingency in the real estate contract to say something like “this offer is subject to buyer’s favorable review of all deed restrictions” or something like that. The buyer should consult an attorney to make absolutely sure.

I am not a lawyer, but experience here at Lake Martin has pretty much taught me to never assume.  But, if I had to guess, I would say that Bob and Susie Q. Buyer won’t be able to split that lot.

I will take a 98% chance any day of the week!

 

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Interview: StillWaters RA Manager Kevin Eason

Kevin Eason has been the General Manager of the StillWaters Residential Association for several years now.  Kevin is extremely competent and helpful, and the neighborhood has benefited from his expertise.  Recently I sent Kevin an email, asking him some general questions about StillWaters.  In the course of selling waterfront real estate around Lake Martin, I get asked for information I don’t have, and it is really nice to have someone like Kevin to lean on for good answers.  I am extremely grateful for his advice below!  The best way to reach Kevin directly is to call him at his office at 256-825-2990 or see the equally informative StillWaters Residential Association website here: StillWaters RA.

If you would like more info on my site on StillWaters, see the page here.  It includes a live, ever-updated list of every waterfront home for sale and every lot for sale inside StillWaters.  There is also a video tour!

Q: How many total acres are inside StillWaters?  How much of that is waterfront?

A: StillWaters is approximately 2,400 acres and we have 23 miles of private roads.
I do not know how much is waterfront but we have several miles of waterfront.

Q: How many homes are in StillWaters?

A: There are 1,815 property owners in StillWaters. 1,056 residential units, this includes single family homes, condos, and villas. There are 568 single family homes and 488 condos/villas. We also have 14 timeshare units that are not included in the total number of units. During the busy season we have 14 new guests, mostly families, check into the timeshares every Friday.

Q: How many unimproved lots?

A:There are currently 759 vacant lots; however, a few lots are very large and could be subdivided into several more building lots.

Q: What is the breakdown on waterfront lots vs. interior lots that are unimproved?

A: I do not have a breakdown of waterfront to interior lots. I can tell you there are only 14 vacant waterfront lots left, a few are listed for sale by their owners.

Q: What do the homeowner association dues cover?

A: The SWRA annual dues include the maintenance of the private roads, gates, pool, tennis courts, park, and other common areas.

Q: What percentage of your residents are permanent?

A: We think we have approximately 600 permanent residents. This is difficult to determine because a portion of our residents live in StillWaters six months out of the year and then somewhere else the rest of the year. There are 954 registered voters inside StillWaters.

Q: What frequent questions do you get from new or prospective owners?

A: The most frequently asked question by new interior owners concerns access to the water. The marina has plenty of boat slips for rent and you can pay an annual fee to use the boat ramp. We do not have a beach or other access for owners. The most frequently asked question overall is where can I rent more storage space.

Q: And lastly, how are the sales in StillWaters?

A: We had 157 properties sell in StillWaters in 2015, 136 sold in 2014, and 132 sold in 2013.

If you see anything you like in the list above, click on the picture, then click on the star beside it on the MLS list, register, and the MLS will automatically notify me.  Or, you can contact me through this form, you can email me ([email protected]), or you can call me at (334) 221-5862.

 

 

 

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133 Whisper Wind Home Tour

My friend Becky Haynie recently held an Open House at 133 Whisper Wind, Windermere West on Lake Martin in Alexander City.  Becky is the Listing Agent with Lake Martin Realty and can be reached at 334-312-0928 or emailed at [email protected]  Watch the home tour video above which she graciously allowed me to record.

The home at 133 Whisper Wind is a 5/4 floor plan with a 3 car garage which sits on a great lot. Inside, you will find spacious family rooms on two levels – the main level and the terrace level.  Both family rooms have fireplaces, too.  Two of the five bedrooms are on the main level.  Enjoy beautiful open lake views from the home or from the pier, lakeside fire pit or outdoor swing.

Listing price for this home is $825,000.

Click here  for the Google map link.

More Information About Windermere

Windermere (click here for my neighborhood link to Windermere) is close to marinas and boat ramps, Russell Crossroads and Russell Forest trails.

Would you like to see a summarized list of every waterfront home and lot for sale in Windermere? Click here!

Watch the video below and enjoy the bike ride from Windermere to Russell Crossroads.


As Becky pointed out in the video, just like any waterfront home, lot, or condo on Lake Martin, I can help you with it. I would love to be your real estate agent! CLICK HERE to contact me, or you can email me ([email protected] lakemartinvoice.com), or you can call me at the number at the top of this page.

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You Just Saved $10,000

Happy Friday and Congratulations!! You just saved $10,000 on Lot 61, Phase II of The Ridge!

We just dropped the price on Lot 61, Phase II of the Ridge. It’s an awesome waterfront lot on Lake Martin. Just think of it, you didn’t have to lift a finger and you saved $10,000. The price has been reduced to $229,000 from $239,000. CLICK HERE for more info on the lot.

Lot 61, Phase II is on Eagle Ridge in one of Lake Martin’s most prestigious neighborhoods: The Ridge!

Waterfront lot and home sales are beating last year by 26% on Lake Martin, and 2014 was a record year. Now is the time to take advantage of a great new price on this  wonderful lot!

Call John Coley at 334 221 5862 or john (at ) lakemartinvoice (dot) com.

More Info: The Ridge in Lake Martin

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Live With Bears In Shady Bay

Have you ever thought, “Lake Martin is almost perfect, but what if it were a little more like the Smoky Mountains?”

lake martin alabama BEARS

Photo Credit: Alex City Outlook

If so, your dream may have come true. Black bears have been spotted around Lake Martin. See this article in the Alex City Outlook. I must admit that I often have wished Lake Martin could be more Smoky like, but it has to do mainly with wild trout. If some mad plan could be hatched so that the Tallapoosa below Martin Dam could sustain trout, maybe we could become the next South Holston.

Back to reality, this story reminds me that I have many waterfront lots for sale in Shady Bay. They range in price from $57,000 (Lot 23 Ph I) to $190,000 (lot 5 Ph II). If you would like to see the entire list, see Shady Bay Lots For Sale. Or, if you would like to learn about Shady Bay real estate in general, see the Shady Bay neighborhood page.

Since the black bear article first appeared, the sightings have decreased. Maybe the bears have moved on, or maybe they are getting camera shy.

But one thing’s for certain – Shady Bay on Lake Martin is a great spot to build your waterfront home. There are homes underway on lots 9 – 14, and they are going to be some really nice ones!

If you have any questions about the lots in Shady Bay, or anywhere else, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can put you in contact with builders and architects to answer your design and construction questions, if you would like me to do so.

 

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Price Drop on Shady Bay Waterfront Lots

Great news! Prices have dropped on great waterfront lots in Lake Martin’s Shady Bay neighborhood!

Shady Bay is a great waterfront neighborhood on the northern end of Lake Martin. I have several waterfront lots for sale in Shady Bay. We started out with fourteen lots and have sold six, so we are down to eight. We recently dropped the prices on these lots, so if you are looking for a site to build your Lake Martin dream home, now may be an excellent time to take advantage of the new prices.

For more information on these lots, please see:

Shady Bay

For more information on Shady Bay in general, please watch the above video or click on this: Shady Bay Neighborhood Page.

Which lot looks right for you? Please call at 334 221 5862 or contact us here if we may help!

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Pace’s Peninsula Lots For Sale

If you’re looking for a waterfront lot on Lake Martin, you might be interested in some new lots we have listed in the Pace’s Peninsula area of Lake Martin!

Pace's Point Lake Martin AL

Click here to see the whole list of lots for sale in Pace’s Peninsula.

We at Lake Martin Voice Realty are proud to be the listing company for these lots. We put them on the market on October 6, and we already have eleven of the sixteen lots under contract!

As you can see from this page, the lots are not in a row or in a specific neighborhood. Rather, they are sprinkled around the Pace’s Peninsula area, mostly off of Pace’s Point Road and Pleasure Point Road. These roads are at the very end of Tallapoosa Count Road 34, a (relatively) major road that runs west from Alabama Highway 49 on the east side of Lake Martin.  These are lots that Alabama Property Company (a subsidiary of Alabama Power) has owned for years.

If you are interested in any of the remaining lots, please CONTACT US HERE.

Did you miss out on one of these lots? Would you like to be notified more rapidly about Lake Martin real estate? We would be glad to help you out with that.  Contact us and allow us to help! We promise never ever to spam you, sell or rent your info out to anyone else.

But, we can’t keep you up to date without a little info from you!

 

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A New Restaurant for Parker Creek!

My Saturday was spent with a fun couple from Georgia, showing them Lake Martin waterfront homes for sale in Parker Creek.  Around lunchtime, we had an hour break in between showings and I was starving.  But with only an hour to spare, our lunch options were limited: bottled water and peanut buter crackers at the Parker Creek Marina were the best we could do.  And I was thankful for those.

Fast forward a year to next summer, same situation, except I plan to have lunch with my clients at Parker Creek Marina’s new restaurant.  That’s right – Parker Creek Marina is opening a restaurant in 2015, and I think it’s a great addition for the west side of the Lake Martin.  Below is a picture I took of their plan.  It’s on a bulletin board inside the ship’s store, so it’s available for everyone to check out.

New Parker Creek Restaurant

The back story on this restaurant has to do with the elusive Parker Creek food boat I’ve been searching for.  There were plans for a food boat (like Nibblers Float Thru Grill near Blue Creek), but the marina was told it had to install new septic in order to run this boat and be up to code.  They decided if they had to have new septic, they might as well have a permanent restaurant on their premises.  Parker Creek is such a popular area of the lake, and there just aren’t many restaurants close by.  I hope they have wild success, and I will gladly swap in my bottled water and crackers for whatever fare they decide to serve.

If you’re looking for a waterfront home in Parker Creek, the addition of this restaurant makes this area even more attractive. Give me a call and let’s talk Lake Martin real estate. I’m a full time agent at Lake Martin, and 100% of my realtor time is devoted to helping clients buy and sell property here.  I can help you with any listing in the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of who has it listed.  I’d love to help you, too.

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Updated Tour of Parker Creek Marina

If you’re looking to buy waterfront real estate, that means you probably want a boat.  And if you have a boat, you probably need some gas.  When showing Lake Martin waterfront homes, I often get these questions, “Where is the nearest marina?” ” How do you get there by land?” and “How do you get there by water?” If you’re looking for waterfront homes for sale in the Parker Creek area, then take a look at what Parker Creek Marina has to offer:

I’ve heard all about this food boat that is operating out of Lake Martin’s Parker Creek Marina.  I haven’t seen it yet, so I thought I’d drop by.  I went during the week, so the marina was closed and I didn’t learn anything about the food boat.  But it was a pretty day and it gave me a chance to video their new dock.

I don’t know exactly what Parker Creek has in store for next summer, but something’s going on.  If you have any updates, let me know.

If you’re looking to buy Lake Martin waterfront real estate in the Parker Creek area, check out my Parker Creek Neighborhood page.

Lake Martin Voice Neighborhood Pages

Lake Martin is huge, and it can feel overwhelming to search the entire lake for a home.   I created these Neighborhood pages to simplify the process.  If you know exactly where you want to be on the lake, quickly skim the live feed of current homes for sale in that area.  If you’re not sure where you’d like to buy, use these pages to learn about Lake Martin in manageable chunks.  Each Neighborhood page has a video tour, a history of the area, a map showing boundaries, and most importantly, a live MLS feed of homes and lots currently for sale.  These are not just my listings – these are all listings from all agents and brokerages.

And if you see something you like, or you want help sifting through the info, give me a call and let’s talk Lake Martin real estate.  334 221  5862.  I’d love to work with you!

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