Archive for the 'Buying Tips' Category

Appetite For Mediocrity

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Saturday afternoon I spent the day running around town getting supplies to tune up my yard equipment. I know – super exciting… I am a stone cold gangster.

When I got done shopping, I realized that none of the stores I visited had two items- a specific hanger for my weed eater and an obscure spark plug sized just for it. No worries. I fired up my Amazon app, ordered them, and went about my bidness.

They were sitting on my doorstep at ten am Monday, less than 36 hours later.

I know my story is not unique. In fact, it’s pretty common. But I still get awe struck sometimes when I consider how Amazon has totally changed the game in e commerce, and how that bleeds over to almost everything else. We consumers didn’t start out demanding random spark plugs in less than two days. Amazon’s excellence made it happen though, and now I confess disappointment when other vendors can’t deliver like that.

Contrast that with this recent LA Times article I read about Zillow. Basically, their estimates stink and their home search tool is misleading and inaccurate.

So why do consumers keep using them? Why are we so demanding about shipping times on the latest Brotherband book but so accepting about a company that feeds us such terrible real estate data? I talk to buyers all the time that quote a zestimate to me and ask why it’s so high or low. Invariably they admit “oh yeah Zillow is terrible in my hometown.” So why use it for Lake Martin? Why use it for anywhere?

Aren’t you tired of the expired listings that look active? Aren’t you distrustful of their estimates? Can’t you see the futility of a website that says a house has 1,665 square feet but no bedrooms? Does the appetite for mediocrity in real estate know no bottom? Who knows, one day I might have to shift my approach and become Mr. Zillow. Maybe they will have decent data and maybe it will be the best place to connect to consumers, and I will have lost this philosophical position because the market has spoken. When that day arrives, look out. I will be its biggest cheerleader. But right now the most popular site we use to look for $5 spark plugs is better than the one for $250,000 homes. Does that make any sense?

As for me, I’m trying to revamp my entire website. Really, I guess, my entire business model. Today’s consumer demands fast, accurate info delivered on multilateral platforms. That’s it. They demand Amazon Prime level service from real estate agents. I strive towards that, not anything else. I am sure I will fall far short of that standard, but I’d rather fail doing that than drown in the legion of average.

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The Antidote To Antsiness

lake martin retirement home buyer

The antidote to antsiness is preparation – at least that’s what I think when it comes to buying a home at Lake Martin.

I spat out this nugget of wisdom as was talking to a buyer this morning. He and his wife are looking to move to Lake Martin permanently when they retire, which happens in a few months. They have selected Lake Martin as their ideal retirement area because they both went to Auburn, and have kids in Auburn now. They fell in love with Lake Martin and knew it’s where they want to live.

However, we have hit a couple of bumps in the road on the way to finding their dream home here at Lake Martin. We had one under contract, but the home inspection revealed a few things they didn’t like, so they had to withdraw from the contract. That’s a subject for another blog post.

Right now they are focused once again on the search mode. A few homes have looked promising, only to be taken off of the list for one reason or another. In one case, the home was snapped up quickly by another buyer. In a different case, we eliminated a home because we felt it was overpriced.

Anyway, I got the call from the husband that they are “getting antsy.” They have a trip up to the Lake scheduled in the next few weeks and would really like to find their perfect home for retirement.

That’s when I spat out – “the antidote to antsiness is preparation.” My point was, let’s go through the Lake Martin MLS, make lists, and commit to spending time on the phone to compare notes. That way, when they are finally able to make it to the lake, we have a good group of “maybes” instead of a wild goose chase. Fortunately, these particular buyers are not goose chasers; they are deliberate. They are informed. Their search will be easy and productive.

I was pretty pleased with this pithy quote, though. Most of my off the cuff quotes are either ludicrous, like when I tell my kids, “tonight I am going to teach you to skin a squirrel,” or overly simple, “this country started to slide when they eliminated glass bottled co-colas.”

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Goat in Little Kowaliga, Lake Martin

So I am going to keep using “the antidote to antsiness is preparation.” I don’t know if it helps you personally or in your business. It does for Lake Martin real estate. I see it often. Buyers that want to breeze up to the lake and fly around, seeing every new listing or every one they pass, soon find themselves disoriented and frustrated. It’s a big lake. Do your research. Search our MLS here. Mark your favorites, (yes you have to sign in, but only I see your info. I don’t sell it.) Then let’s talk, and I can help you separate the wheat from the tares. The sheep from the goats, if you will.

 

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2014 Is Lake Martin’s Best Year Ever

Lake Martin had its best year ever for waterfront real estate sales in 2014. This year’s real estate market report reflects record numbers of waterfront homes sold and waterfront lots sold.

Close readers of my prior market reports for Lake Martin will note that the previous record year for home sales was 2005. In that year, 285 waterfront homes, townhomes, and condos were sold in the Lake Martin MLS(*). It remained the high water mark as sales started to slide the very next year, bottoming with a miserable 137 waterfront homes  sold in 2008.

Do you remember 2008? I do. In 2007 we had no rain. In 2008 we saw few home sales.

Thankfully, the Lord God provided rain and lack of supply combined for the Lake Martin market to bounce back in 2009. As you can see on the above chart, the lake had 194 sales in 2009, a full 42% spike in one year.

Why do I go over these old numbers when I am supposed to be talking about 2014?

Because I think it is worthy to remember how everyone – ( well – almost everyone, see my point #3 to buyers in this report from 2008) – back then said “things will NEVER get back to the old days. We will NEVER see Lake Martin sell like 2005 again.” Wrongo. Incorrect. I heard the naysayers back then and I still hear someone say that at least once a month now.

Here is proof positive that you should never say never.  Seriously. Go back to my Lake Martin market reports in 2008 here and look at it.

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Sales

You also might remember that 2013 was a huge year for waterfront lot sales here on Lake Martin. Did we repeat that feat in 2014? Yes.

Unbelievably, waterfront lot sales were higher in 2014 on Lake Martin than 2013. One might be tempted to conclude that this is only because Alabama Power Company, a private utility and major waterfront landowner, decided to sell a bunch of lots in both years. However, even if you remove the 23 lots Alabama Power sold in 2014 through the MLS, it would still leave 51 lots sold, which is way better than 2012. Similarly, in 2013 only 17 of these waterfront lots sold were from Alabama Power. Remove those, and the record still stands.

FAQ About My 2014 Lake Martin Real Estate Market Report

1.) What prices do in 2014 on waterfront homes? I will cover Lake Martin’s pricing trends in a later post. But my quick answer is that I did not see a huge price jump. I will detail this in the future.  Please stay tuned.

2.) If we beat 2005 for the best year ever, I guess that means now we will start sliding again? Not necessarily. I calls them as I sees them. When sales start slumping and losing to the prior year, I will be the first to say it. But not before then. Mark my words, in a free market, everything has a cycle. Yes, Lake Martin will experience another contraction some time in the future, just not now. Right now we are booming. Also, since I strongly believe that price follows sales, I don’t think we can call a peak until we see upward price movement.

3.) What do you do in real life? I am not a blogger or writer by trade. I am a humble real estate agent here at Lake Martin. I write these market reports and other items to try and be helpful. If I may help you buy or sell something here at Lake Martin, please contact me by clicking here. I would love to be of assistance.

 

Related Posts About Lake Martin Real Estate Market Reports:

Lake Martin 2012 Waterfront Market Report
Lake Martin 2013 Waterfront Market Report

All Lake Martin Waterfront Market Reports

Copyright notice – the above, and every other post on this blog, is the property of John Coley, Broker, Lake Martin Voice Realty. Appraisers may use my information in their appraisals without charge or asking, but please give me credit by citing me, my company name and title, and website address of http://lakemartinvoice.com.  If anyone else would like to use this information, please contact me here and ask. I probably will let you do it, just please ask!

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Accuracy is not guaranteed but deemed reliable. The above does not include sales by   FSBOs or developers that sell privately and not through the MLS. But, I do think that the above represents a very large majority of all waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

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Another Lake Martin Video You Can’t Watch

At Lake Martin Voice Realty, we are big believers in real estate video. At this point, that almost goes without saying. We’ve been posting (hopefully) helpful videos about Lake Martin real estate and area info since about 2008. Some of these videos, though, are not for the public.
lake martin home seller video
I just posted a video to my YouTube channel that is not public. In fact, it is only aimed at four people.

Don’t feel sad, you can get one made for you, too. This Lake Martin video was made for two couples that went in together and allowed me to help them find their lake home. Due to work and kiddo restraints, they were all not able to make it to the “walkthrough” before closing. You are probably familiar with walkthroughs in your hometown – it’s where the buyer walks through the home, making sure everything is ok before closing, and perhaps – if they’re nice – the seller is there to let them know about the quirks, tips, and tricks of the home. Here at Lake Martin that also includes things like: How to winterize the landscape irrigation? How to treat the boat lift when the water goes down? Who’s the best neighbor to call if you need a tool?

So, no, you can’t watch my latest video. I made it by following around the seller and asking him questions. I uploaded it to YouTube and sent the Unlisted link to the buyers. It’s about fifteen minutes long, and hopefully will be of use to them for years to come. There is no extra charge for this, it is just how we roll up in here.

If you would like to watch all of the rest of the videos on Lake Martin that we’ve made since 2008, please CLICK HERE for my YouTube channel or here for a summary page and player on my blog.

If there are any questions you may have, please contact me and let me know. Thanks!

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Help Us Improve Our Site: Mobile Mode

Lake Martin Voice seeks to be the number one resource for all things about Lake Martin real estate.
lake martin mobile real estate search
We realize that a huge whallop of our readers do so from their mobile devices, be they iPhones, iPads, Androids, whatevers. We want Lake Martin Voice to be the number one resource for real estate on Lake Martin. Period. Therefore we want your mobile experience to be the best, too. Recently we installed a new tool to help with that. For the nerdy interested, it’s WP Touch, a WordPress plugin.

Anyway, we have some flexibility on how our menus and pages are displayed, so if you have any feedback we would love to hear it.

Specifically:

Do you like using the home search tool?
Is the home search easy to get to?
Once you’re on the home search, do you like it? What can improve?
What is hard to do?
What is easy to do?
Anything you would like added to the menus or pages?

If you have any feedback you can fill out this contact form or email me at john at lakemartinvoice dot com.

Thanks!

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550 Longpine For Sale In Trillium

Waterfront home for sale in Trillium at 550 Longpine!

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I am so proud to offer 550 Longpine in Trillium for sale! This beautiful waterfront home is the kind of house I got into real estate to sell! Not just because it is (clearly) a luxury home, but because this home really embodies the best of the Lake Martin experience.

This is what struck me the first time I drove up to 550 Longpine: as a real estate agent, you never really know what to expect. Many homes in Trillium are very nice, but because they were built in a different era, let’s say, you see a lot of million plus dollar homes that need updating. This is not the case here. From the driveway, I could see the timber / wood / stone features that carry throughout the home. To me, this home is a perfect combination of nice finishes and accessibility. This home feels fun. It feels like family.

When I talked with the owner, this theme continued. He confirmed to me that the areas like the huge greatroom, spacious kitchen, and covered back deck “act as funnels” to draw your family together when they spend time at Lake Martin.

Inside, the heart pine floors contrast with the stone work in the greatroom and granite in the kitchen to give you elegance that doesn’t feel like a an untouchable museum. It also has three bedrooms upstairs to accommodate guests.

And the lot – awesome! It has a rare combination of being flat, yet has deep water at the dock. Most of the time on Lake Martin if you want year ’round water, you have to trade off by having a steep rappel to your dock. Not so at 550 Longpine. Here you have an easy stroll over flagstone sidewalks to a deep water dock complete with a boat lift and boat ramp!

Maybe I ahve gushed too much here, but I would love to etell you more about 550 Longpine. Check this page for more info or contact me here!

 

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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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What Your Kids Think about the New Lake House

Kids like Lake Martin.  They like waterfront homes on Lake Martin.  And they are naturals at giving their testimonials on video – no coaching necessary.

This video below was sent to me by my buyers, the new owners of a lake house in Parker Creek.  Their daughter volunteered to give their family’s testimonial for me, and I think she does a great job.  Most adults cringe when asked to be in front of a camera, even if it is just my iPhone.  The fact that some agree to do it, I hope, is proof that they valued my help in the transaction.  But a kid?  Why didn’t I think of this before?

And on the flip side, I’ll bring back this video from 2010, where a mom (and friend of our family) talks about why she, as a parent, loves Lake Martin. There’s a lot of wisdom in what she says – see if you agree:

So – if you’re looking for a way to bond with your kids, try Lake Martin.  As a full time Lake Martin real estate agent, I’m happy to hook you up with a home or lot here.

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Water Depth Measurement, Boy Scout Style

When selling Lake Martin waterfront real estate, the worlds of work and fun often collide to produce a work day like last Friday at the lake.

As I’ve mentioned here before, Alabama Power dropped prices on the lots in Phase II of Shady Bay a few weeks ago, and there has been a lot of interest from buyers.  One particular buyer was referred to me by Lake Martin homeowner and architect, Bryan Jones.  (Bryan was recently featured is LAKE Magazine for his design of Lake Martin’s first Passive House.) This buyer was interested in two lots in Shady Bay, and wanted more info on water depth in front of both lots.  Bryan – always looking for an adventure – asked if I wanted to come and help him measure the water depth for this client.

But he was not interested in using the depth finder on my boat.  As sophisticated as he is in his fancy Atlanta office, he wanted to take these measurements using his kayak, his tape measure, some wooden stakes, a piece of paper and a red ink pen. Old School. We recruited our wives to help.

Shady Bay Water DepthWe had two lots, side by side, to compare, and we wanted to know how deep the water would be off the end of each hypothetical dock.

Step one of this highly technical procedure was to place some stakes on the shore – on either edge of each lot, and in the approximate middles.  We then stretched a long tape measure out over the water and took three different depth readings (with a yellow measuring tape).  We picked increments of around 20′, around 50′ and around 60′ based on Alabama Power’s shoreline guidelines (linked here) and the HOA’s rules specific to Shady Bay.  It rained on us a little, but such adventures are not thwarted by a little rain.

Shady Bay Depth MeasurementShady Bay Depth MeasurementShady Bay Depth MeasurementShady Bay Depth MeasurementShady Bay Depth MeasurementShady Bay Water Depth Measurement

Shady Bay Lot Water Depth Measurement

The measurements we took helped my client make his decision, and he submitted an offer on the lot.

So why go through all this trouble, when we could have just breezed through Shady Bay and gotten a reading from my boat’s depth finder?  Because we love the lake and the lake is fun.  If you are ever around Bryan and his wife, Allison, their passion for Lake Martin adventures is contagious.  That’s what a lot of us seek when we come here – a chance to slow down and be a part of an authentically fun moment.

When our “work” was finished, we headed south in the boat and had pizza at Chuck’s .  Then back north for peanuts at Peanut Point.  It was definitely a good Friday.

If you’re interested in Lake Martin real estate, I’d love to get to help you, too.  I’m a full time Lake Martin realtor and I’m up for the adventure.  I sell across the entire lake, and I sell nothing but Lake Martin.  Give me a call at 334 221 5862, email me at john @ lakemartinvoice.com, or click here to contact me.

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The First Thing to Do When You Buy on Lake Martin

We’ve had our first closing of a Lake Martin waterfront lot in Phase II of Shady Bay!  Alabama Power recently dropped the prices on all of these lots, and we’ve seen a lot of action, plus the first closing.  There are twelve lots remaining in Phase II.

As an accountant an a realtor, I get geeked up about the numbers and the business side of a sale, so when I asked my Shady Bay buyers what their first step would be now that they owned the lot, I expected them to say, “Meet the builder at the lot,” or “Go over house plans with the architect.”  Something business-y.  But that was not their plan, and I love what they said!  Check it out:

Now that is the first thing to do when you buy on Lake Martin!  I am so happy for these lot owners and I look forward to watching them create their dream home on the water.  Thanks for letting me share your excitement with my readers!

Like I said, the price drops at Shady Bay have created a lot of interest from buyers.  Shady Bay is an established neighborhood on the northeast side of the Lake Martin.  That means you can relax on the water, but still be in Alex City in minutes – the grocery store, the hospital, the schools, Highway 280.  It’s a great mix of city/vacation, and because it is close to Highway 280, a lot of things are close to Shady Bay.

For more info on Shady Bay, click here   If you like what you see, give me a call at 334 221  5862, and let’s talk about what this neighborhood has to offer.  I’m the listing agent for Shady Bay, but as a member of the Lake Martin MLS, I can help you with any property in the MLS, regardless of who has it listed.  For a quick tour of the neighborhood, check out the video below:

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