Lake Martin Voice Realty
Archive for the 'New Construction' Category
The Ridge Marina on Lake Martin hosted its In Water Boat Show for 2008 last weekend. I went down there on Thursday and filmed a little video footage of the Marina. It was a beautiful day, albeit windy. I was going to post this on Friday to give folks a chance to look around before they came. So by posting this today, I guess it becomes a “in case you missed it” vlog.
A couple of Sundays ago found us at Willow Point eating lunch to celebrate my Moms birthday. We ate lunch in the Willow Point Clubhouse, which overlooks the golf course, and of course, Lake Martin. I had my camera with me, and it was such a beautiful day, I thought to take a few photos.
Why do most Lake Martin lovers wait until Memorial Day to come to the lake? Beats me. Springtime has great weather “ plenty of sun and temps in the low 70s. What a beautiful day. Enjoy:
Willow Points 18th green:
Willow Points Driving Range:
The tee box on number 10, one of the holes that play along Lake Martin:
Willow Point Villas (available for rent by members):
The Pool & Cabana:
Right now there is no one set of zoning rules that covers the entire Lake Martin area. Why? For starters, it stretches over three different counties, and most of the shoreline is not inside any cities’ limits. It’s an old lake, developed in a rural area. But, as things change, prices rise, and high end developments are created, more people start talking about a zoning plan that would control the entire Lake Martin area.
I have been hearing a lot of local and industry talk about this lately. It seems that some mysterious document has appeared on the internets (insert grain of salt here) that purports to be a proposed bill for the Alabama legislature and would create a Lake Martin Planning Commission. The Commission would create and regulate zoning for all of the Lake Martin waterfront and surrounding area. You can see a copy of the document here on savelakemartin.com.
Is it for real? Is it a hoax? Who knows. I certainly don’t. Judge for yourself. But it got my puzzler puzzling, ‘til my puzzler was sore. Can “they” really do something like that? Ain’t this America? If something like the Lake Martin Planning Commission was done, how would “they” do it? If “they” could do it, would it be good or bad for Lake Martin?
I am no expert on zoning laws or Alabama lawmaking, so I talked to someone that is. My resource had these interesting observations:
1. Currently there is no proposed bill to create a Lake Martin Planning Commission or some such other Lake Martin zoning entity. If you would like to search pending or proposed legislation, click here for the Alabama Legislature search site. I can’t find one right now. Maybe it’s being crafted right now and will pop up there tomorrow, but at this writing, there is no such bill.
2. A Lake Martin Planning Commission as proposed would more than likely originate at the County Commissioners’ levels. Since Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Elmore Counties would be ceding their right to zone and control part of their land, each county’s commissioners would have to agree on it, vote on it, pass it, and petition the State first before it would go before the legislature.
3. Such an action would probably take more than one legislative session to approve. Since there are so many moving parts, things like this take time. So the public could have two chances at input, once at the county level and once at the state.
4, There might be many opponents at the state level that might lobby heavily against it. In the past, when other rural counties in the state have tried to set up special zoning for unincorporated areas, large insurance type companies have opposed it on the premise of looking out for the little guy.
Disclaimer: I do not have a crystal ball to predict the future. I don’t have x-ray vision to pierce the proverbial smoke filled rooms of politicians. “I am lowly priest from Honan province.” I am not even saying that such zoning would be bad. Part of me cringes at the mere mention of Orwellian sounding “commissions.” But practically speaking, if the two landowners that control 99% of the undeveloped land around Lake Martin want to voluntarily limit themselves, well…. And it may very well be beneficial in the long run. Who knows. Whether this turns out to be true or a hoax, I doubt it will be the last time the subject comes up.
Lake Martin waterfront property owners are in one of three counties – Tallapoosa County, Elmore County, or Coosa County. If you’re considering buying on Lake Martin, and are curious about property taxes, you would need to research all three counties to cover of your bases.
There are some similarities, however, in that they all are governed by the state of Alabama’s property tax laws. The property tax fiscal year in Alabama runs October 1 – September 30 every year. So the property taxes you would pay by December 31, 2007, were generated based on a snapshot of value taken on October 1, 2006. Here is some info for further research:
Tallapoosa County – Click here for a link to the Tallapoosa County Tax Assessor. The office number is 256–825–1046. Click here for an online calculator for Tallapoosa County taxes. It is a really good tutorial of how to translate assessment and millage rates to the actual taxes you might pay. They use an example of a $100,000 single family home, not in city limits, which yields a tax of $300.00 per year.
Coosa County – At this writing, Coosa County does not have its own website. Click here for info. The Revenue Commissioner is Charlie Luker, and is a heckofa nice guy. His number is 256–377–4916. Their rates may be a tad different from Tallapoosa and Elmore, but for planning purposes, they are about equal.
All three counties employ third party websites to publish their property tax map and owner information. The online sites are very useful, but take caution. The best way to determine current ownership is to do a deed search at the courthouse. Also, most of the time the lot lines are generally correct. But the best way to know your lot lines is to get a professional survey.
Many times the info online will only give you who was the owner on the previous October 1. That said, sometimes the counties update a sale as the year goes along. Consider if John Doe owned a property at 10-1-07 and sold on 1–10–08 to Bob Smith. Many times I have seen where the will leave John Doe as the owner but have Bob Smith’s name and mailing address in the mailing address slot. Then when the next year rolls around, they bump John Doe off and Bob Smith is property owner. But this is only a case by case observation.
If you are thinking about buying waterfront property on Lake Martin, and need some help in sifting through all of the Counties, school districts, and tax zones, I would be glad to help you estimate what your annual property taxes might be. As compared to other states, property taxes in Alabama are pretty low, so hopefully it will be a nice surprise. Email me, come by my Kowaliga office, or call my number at the top of this page. I would be glad to help you out.
Does Your Lake Martin Home Need Botox?
Okay, so since the holidays we’ve all been working on those New Year’s resolutions… and I’m not talking about losing those last five pounds.
Rather, it’s those things you want to change about your Lake Martin home – the kitchen that’s too small, the back porch you always wanted, the master bathroom suite with a super sized shower.
And, for the same reasons people hire personal trainers to finally get over that plateau, I have to break it to you – it’s time to hire an Architect.
I can hear the excuses already. While there can be some small truth to all of the following, running an idea by an Architect, even just through a quick phone call, can make a huge difference in your project’s success.
1. Architects Are Too Expensive
Yes, Architects can be expensive. But you would be surprised how much they can save you. Architects can take into account new products and building methods that save you money. A good Architect will keep the massing, the overall shape of the structure or addition, simple. That means you save money on the basics and allows you to splurge on the noticeable details that make your home really special – trim work, cabinets and exposed rafter tails that make the house shine. No one ever complimented anyone on the complexity of their roofline, but everyone notices if you have gorgeous custom cabinets. Those things are vitally important on a renovation or expansion job where new features need to match with the existing structure.
2. My Lake Home Project Is Too Small For An Architect
As for the idea that a renovation job is too small for an Architect – well, there are times when a job is so straightforward that a homeowner is best just getting a contractor to do it. But 9 times out of 10, even the simplest additions can involve complex problems, like:
• ensuring against water leaks when dealing with rooflines,
• recommending the best products for new windows, doors, and materials,
• stabilizing additions so they do not sink or settle at a different rate than the existing structure, and more.
3. Staying in Budget
Rule No 1: When your budget is important to you, tell your Architect.
Use your Architect to help you stay in budget by creating a team between yourself, the Architect and a Contractor. Have the Contractor review drawings throughout their creation – this allows everyone to stay on the same page when it comes to dollar signs.
4. Why not just use the Contractor?
As I said before, there are times when this is the best route. But what the heck, call an Architect and see what they say. If the project really is that easy, they will let you know. All you will have lost is the time of a quick phone call and most times an Architect can help recommend reliable contractors at the same time to help you get started down your new path.
Amy Stoyles is co-founder and partner of Archiscapes, LLC an architecture firm with offices in Alabama and Florida. www.archiscapes.com
Trillium, one of Russell Lands’ more mature Lake Martin developments, is located just west of Kowaliga Marina. Along with Willow Point and The Ridge, Trillium has some of the more high end homes on Lake Martin.
If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in Trillium, CLICK HERE to go to my Trillium 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.
Trillium was one of Russell Lands’ first neighborhoods that were completed in different phases. The first homes were built there around 1989. One element that was new to Lake Martin at the time was Russell Lands’ use of causeway construction.
Years of erosion on Lake Martin had made islands out of former peninsula. Russell Lands poured a lot of money in the construction of causeways to bring paved roads and utilities, thereby rescuing millions of dollars of real estate. I can remember one such “island” on the first phase. It was divided into four huge lots and priced at $250,000 each. It was laughingly dubbed “million dollar island” by hordes of us skeptical locals. We pondered “what fool would pay that much for one lot?” Eighteen years later, that amount will barely buy you any sort of waterfront lot, much less a showcase one like those on the points at Trillium. Turns out that we were the fools for not realizing the demand that would spur a long bull run for Lake Martin property. Lots like those would now cost you 10 times that amount if you could buy them at all.
By my unofficial count, there are 213 waterfront lots in all of Trillium. As of this writing, there are 8 homes and 4 lots for sale in Trillium in the Lake Martin MLS. If you would like any information on them, give me a call or email me.
Trillium does not have a clubhouse. It does have a guardhouse protecting the lone entry, but I have never seen a guard there. I suppose they could put someone there in the future if they wanted.
Because Trillium doesn’t have a clubhouse, it does not have any related things like a pool or workout center or anything. They do have some walking trails that are cut through the non-waterfront woods.
Waterfront lots in Trillium are flat. Just as many of the lots in The Ridge (link) are sloped, Trillium’s overall topography almost guarantees that each one of its lots are flat.
Generally, the lots are also big (for Lake Martin) and deep, sitting far back from the roadways. Trillium’s lots are also well covered with tall, mature pines.
There are no interior lots or homes. All homes in Trillium are waterfront. Who knows, maybe one day Russell Lands will sell off the interior land. Right now, they have retained fairly large sections of woods in between the phases to give Trillium a beautiful, woodsy, private feel.
Back in the heyday of “Russell cabins” Mrs. Edith Russell used to have a couple of cabins at the end of Pine Point. Apparently she was a fan of the trillium, a pretty, symbolic wildflower native to this part of Alabama. Hence the name of the subdivision and its types the names of many of its streets: Wake Robin, Nodding, Grandiflorium, Underwood, Catesby, and Narrowleaf.
One of Lake Martin’s newest developments – Eagle’s Point – has a model home that is ready to see plus several other spaces for lots.
Located at the easternmost end of Coosa County Road 20, Eagle’s Point has big water views looking southeast at the junction of Parker Creek and Kowaliga towards Willow Point and Sand Island.
Density: Phase I of Eagle’s Point has a total of 11 homes planned. Each home will have and its own pier. They have already cleared out the home sites, so if you drive by boat or car, you’ll see the phase I area. The planned Phase II extends east, across the causeway towards Veazy’s Marina. There are 20 planned homes in Phase II. A Phase III of interior lots is also planned.
House Plans: Eagle’s Point offers three different house plans. There are 2 plans with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. One plan has 4 beds and 4.5 baths. All are three stories and have at least 2,500 square feet.
Builder: All the homes will be built by Lake Martin builder Sammy Ransome. You cannot bring your own builder.
Pricing: The smallest home on lots 4 and 5 go for $980,000. The 2,762 square foot 4/4.5 is priced at $1,175,000. Right now there are 2 on the MLS – lot one (a 3/3.5 and 2,762 sf) priced at $1,115,000 and lot two (4/4 at 2,762) priced at $1,150,000. Prices like these put it in a similar to other Lake Martin developments like The Ridge and Willow Point.
Amenities: Eagle’s Point will have a gated entrance, private beach, common area fire pits, community dock for guests, golf cart parking by boat launch.
Directions: Eagle’s Point is in the Coosa County side of Lake Martin, at the end of Coosa County Road 20. Google Map to Eagle’s Point
The showcase is happening over two weekends – September 15 and 16 as well as September 22 and 23, 2007. Many of the builder spec homes that are for sale will be open to the public to tour. Russell Lands is also having the Grand Opening of The Ridge Club on September 15.
I am not sure which or how many of the The Ridge spec homes that are currently for sale will be in the Showcase. By my last count on the Lake Martin Area MLS, there are about 35 homes and 8 town homes (The Ledges at the Ridge) for sale right now in the Ridge. In the Spring Home and Boat Tour, (the last “parade” they did) I think they had like 14 or so homes available.
According to their press release by Schroder Public Relations, Russell Lands expects between 2,000 and 3,000 people to come through these two weekends.
Would you like a friendly, unbiased, neighborhood realtor to help guide you through the festivities? Drop me a line and I would be glad to help.
The Ridge – Russell Lands’ newest Lake Martin development – is near to completing its Ridge Clubhouse and Pool Area, while Phase III construction is ramping up.
I popped by The Ridge last week to look at some lots in Phase III. Phase III – which stretches south towards the Dixie Sailing Club, which is Lake Martin’s largest sailing organization. Phase III already has a few spec homes on the MLS, and builders are already started a few custom builds.
Originally, Russell Lands had planned to move Dixie Sailing Club out of The Ridge to their new digs by Labor Day 2007. But this letter from Russell Lands General Counsel Steve Forehand has forestalled that trail of tears until Labor Day 2008. Maybe they made this decision because sales in 2007 have not been as brisk as 2006. Who knows. The fact is, the old salts at DSC have one more year.
While I was checking out the view of Lake Martin from some new lots at The Ridge, I stopped by the Ridge Club to see how construction was going. As I stated in this earlier post, I really must say that The Ridge Club will be very nice when they are done. The pool area is comparable to many area country clubs, with a resort style, multi leveled, no sharp angle feel.
Inside The Ridge Clubhouse will be nice, too. I am a sucker for big stone and big wood, and the architecture in here looks like something out of Rohan. I’m loving it.
Alabama 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 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 homes 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.