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Archive for the 'Buying Tips' Category

Lake Martin House Rental Tips

I’m getting a lot of calls and emails these days from folks wanting to rent a vacation home on Lake Martin.  Well, my company doesn’t do rentals, only sales, so I send callers to VRBO.com and lakemartin.com.  There are also a few real estate companies around the lake that manage rentals.

Lake Martin Voice Realty friend, Wayne, and his family have gone through the Lake Martin rental process a number of times, successfully.  I thought I’d let them share their advice with you, so check out their video below . . .

If you’re not very familiar with Lake Martin and want a better feel for the different parts of the lake, and the lifestyle you’re after, renting is great idea.  After you’ve rented a home, and you’ve fallen in love with Lake Martin, give me a call and I’ll help find you something permanent: (334) 221-5862.

Buyers – remember that I can show you any home in the Lake Martin MLS, no matter who has it listed.  The seller pays my commission, so it costs you nothing to let me help!

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Market Report May 2012

The Lake Martin real estate market had a smashing May, tallying 32 waterfront homes sold! This is the highest number of homes sold in six years, since May of 2006.

In this real estate market report I wrote for Lake Magazine, I noted that according to the Lake Martin MLS*, April 2012 had a relatively weak number of waterfront homes sold. I wondered if this was a signal that the Lake martin market was slowing down, or if this is a mere timing thing, setting the table for an explosive May.

It seems the latter was correct. 32 waterfront homes sold in one month is a lot for a little market like Lake Martin. Please note these numbers encompass all brokerages, all agents, in the Lake Martin MLS.

How good is 32?

To help put it into perspective, I looked at each month’s sales history since January, 2005. I found that May 2012 was the best home sales month on Lake Martin since 33 was sold in May of 2006. Think of that – the last time we have seen sales like this was in a confirmed seller’s market of 2006.

Also, another way to view this month is to ask this question:

Q: Since January of 2005, how many times has the Lake Martin real estate market exceeded 30 waterfront home sales per month?

A: Just six. That’s right, over the last 54 months, including the blistering years of 2005 and 2006, Lake Martin has exceeded 30 only six times: May 2012, August 2009, the above mentioned May 2006, and three times in 2005.

I think this proves that April 2012’s weak showing of 14 Lake Martin waterfront homes sold was an aberration, a timing issue. Of course, the same could be said about May, but I doubt that is really the case. As I write this, there are 23 home sales pending in the Lake Martin MLS and 17 recorded as sold since June 1. In other words, June is setting up to be a good sales month as well, very likely to beat the prior year’s June total of 22 homes sold.

If we step back and look the cumulative total number of waterfront homes sold on Lake Martin so far this year, we see that 93 homes have sold. Once again, this is the best five month start since 2006.

Lake Martin Lot Sales 2012

Lake Martin waterfront lots are also selling well so far in 2012. In May, 10 lots were sold, which was the best since 10 sold in April 2011. Other than last year, we have not seen that many lots sold since 2005.

Supply Side

When I first started blogging about Lake Martin real estate way back in 2007, I always included the numbers of waterfront homes for sale on Lake Martin. Every month I trotted out the supply. But, it got rather tedious so I stopped doing it every month, only mentioning it once per quarter or so. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because it frustrated me to see the number of homes for sale keep rising when the Lake Martin market was in an obvious shift to the buyer’s side of the equation. I don’t know.

I do think it bears a look now, in light of the sustained sales.  I took a look at the number of waterfront homes for sale on Lake Martin in the last few years. It has been dropping quite a bit. If we use the month of May as an example, we see that in May of 2009 there were 589 homes for sale on the MLS. May of 2010 saw it drop to 492, then drop to 476 in 2011. In May of 2012 it was only 411. That is a 30% decrease in supply in three years. True, that percentage fluctuates based on which month you consider. It also is true that many more condos were for sale back then, but I looked at the condo effect in this post and it wasn’t all that big an influence in sales.

If supply stays low and sales continue on this trend, could 2012 be a year of actual price increases?  I’m not willing to go out on that limb.  Yet.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Lot Sales 2011
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Year In Review

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)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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Little Kowaliga “Neighborhood” on Lake Martin

Ok, so the Little Kowaliga area is not technically a neighborhood; rather it is a geographic area of waterfront homes on Lake Martin.  It’s a way to talk about that branch of Lake Martin on the west side of the lake, north of Kowaliga Bridge, and around the corner west of Sinclair’s and Kowaliga Marina.  Some people that grew up here or have had cabins on Lake Martin for 40 years may even argue with me for calling it Little Kowaliga.  Lots of people refer to this area as the Real Island area, because Real Island Marina is the oldest marina in this area.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in the Little Kowaliga area, CLICK HERE to go to my Little Kowaliga 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.

The reason it’s called Little Kowaliga is because Little Kowaliga Creek once ran here before the lake was created by Martin Dam.  It is close to Montgomery, and traditionally a lot of Montgomery families have had cabins in this area.

There aren’t really any formal neighborhoods in Little Kowaliga – no gated entrances with formal signs, no neighborhood pools, etc.  Most waterfront homes in this area are located off of county roads.  This is a section of Lake Martin where you can have a trailer next to a two million dollar home.  It is similar to Parker Creek in that there are really no undeveloped lots left.  When you see new construction on a waterfront lot in Little Kowaliga, odds are that person has torn down an old cabin or mobile home.

Driving directions and addresses can be wacky in this area.  The county line separating Elmore and Coosa counties runs through Little Kowaliga, so you can have homes in the town of Equality that can be in either Elmore or Coosa County.  As you drive the road on the north side of Little Kowaliga, road signs can switch from Elmore County to Coosa County, and then back again.  Google Maps and GPS’s still haven’t figured out many of the streets, so it pays to combine them with a good physical map of Lake Martin, and good directions from a homeowner.  Hancel Road, for example, is a road that runs in and out of both counties, and is spelled 3 or 4 different ways by street signs, Google, the MLS, and GPS’s.

If you’re looking for the “lake cabin at the end of the dirt road” experience, the Little Kowaliga area might be a good fit.  To see homes currently for sale in the Little Kowaliga area, CLICK HERE I’d love to help you find your Lake Martin home – in Little Kowaliga or anywhere on Lake Martin. Remember, I can help you with any property in the Lake Martin MLS, and it doesn’t cost the buyer a dime to have a realtor help you with your research and purchase.  The sellers pay my commission. 

If I can help, give me a call at (334) 221-5862, or email me by CLICKING HERE.

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Lake Martin MLS Users: Name This Face

I need some help!

What do you call the middle face in this picture? Sort of smiley? I know the one on the left is a big smiley face, and I guess we can call the one to the right a frowny face. I just have no clue what to call the middle one and it is affecting me. Why?

These faces are a feedback tool within the Lake Martin MLS.  People who are searching for waterfront homes, lots, or condos for sale on Lake Martin can use this feedback system by creating themselves a Portal. You create a Portal on the MLS by clicking “Save” on a search, after you check a particular listing, or if you click on one of these faces to give feedback. Then you are asked to register some info and create a Portal. The big smiley face puts your selection in a Listing Cart called “Favorites.” The middle one is “Possibilities” and the frowny is “Rejects.”

Why would you want to do that? I can think of a few reasons:

1.  My buyers love this feature. There is safety in numbers. You know, the old “many have enjoyed this, you will, too!” line.

2.  Registering allows you to save your favorites without searching again and again each time you log on to search the Lake Martin MLS.  It saves you huge amounts of time, plus your spouse can log on also and see the same info.

3.  Don’t worry, your info comes only to me!  This may or may not be a comfort, but this live feed to the homes and lots for sale is provided by me, so only I see your email address or any other contact info you provide.  I don’t spam and no one else will have it.

4.  It saves a lot of time when/if you are ready to buy, even if it’s 6 months later.  I can find the current examples of your past favorites and get a good idea of what you like and what you don’t like.

Like I’ve said many times before, the Lake Martin MLS is the #1 source for the most accurate, up-to-date information on homes for sale on the lake.  If you’re not sure how to use it effectively, I’ll give you the 5 minute lesson:

If I can help you, please call me at (334) 221-5862, email me at info @ lakemartinvoice .com, or CLICK HERE to contact me.  I can help you with any property in the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of which realtor has it listed.

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We’re iPad Friendly

I’m watching you.

Well, not really. As the owner of Lake Martin Voice website, I am able to see in general how many people read the pages, where they click, how long they stay on the site, etc.

One really cool thing I noticed the other day was that I am getting quite a bit of traffic from people using mobile devices. In fact, about 20% of my traffic is from some type of mobile device. By a huge margin, the most popular device people use on my site is the iPad.

I suppose it’s from people sitting at home and surfing the web on their iPads. I can’t imagine that too many people with cell plans on their iPads are riding around Lake Martin looking.

These big numbers made me wonder what the iPad experience is for my readers, so I got mine out and played around with it.

I found that my site handles is quite well. The pictures and videos work and look great. The only thing I had to change was how the Lake Martin MLS displays on an iPad. If you click to “Home Search” or “Property Search” link to look for homes or lots, you will be given a choice. The MLS feed will ask you if you want the Full Site or the Mobile SiteIt’s my recommendation that you use the Mobile Site.  It is a little easier to navigate, and it frames the home pictures and videos really nicely.

So whether you’re sitting in your living room on a iPad, at work or home on a desktop, or reading this on your phone, we thank you for dropping by. It’s our aim to be not only the most helpful website and brokerage in the Lake Martin area, but also to be at the leading edge of real estate technology in the entire nation. If you have any suggestions on how we can get better, please let us know by using this form to contact us or email us at info @ LakeMartinVoice . Com.

Thanks!

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The Down Side To Free Information

When I started blogging about Lake Martin real estate in 2007, I made the decision to give as much information as I could online. As a real estate agent, obviously, I am limited somewhat to what I can say by state and federal laws, ethics rules, and client relationships.

I also limit myself by common sense. When I state facts, I name my source. When I’m giving you my personal opinion, I try to disclose that very clearly. Other than that, I let it rip. I figure that’s the whole purpose of a real estate blog like this. I am supposed to try and give you information about Lake Martin that no one else does.

When I first started this, I had many fellow agents tell me I was crazy. Their thoughts were, why should I put so much information, and more critically, my analysis, online? Isn’t that too public? Shouldn’t I keep all of that to myself, and force people to call me if they wanted the scoop? They would ask, aren’t you afraid the reader will call someone else after you’ve done all that work?

My reasoning is that I agree with those that think the “Information Age” is over. Thanks to the web, Google, online databases like the county tax offices, information is free and flowing. You don’t really need me to get the basic facts about a Lake Martin home or lot that is for sale. If you spend time online, you can get that. Gone are the days of having to physically walk into an agent’s office to pierce that silo of information. I think that any real estate agent’s value now lies in helping you make sense of the flood of info. I should be able help cut through the noise to find the deals or help you sell. That’s why when it comes to information and advice about Lake Martin real estate, I put it out there and hope you call me.

I’m sure that there are readers out there who never call me. In fact I know by looking at the sheer volume of my web traffic, there is no way that every single person uses me as their agent. Occasionally they even use another.

I know! Shocking! 🙂

The other day a fellow called me about a lot that was for sale in the same neighborhood where he had recently bought a home. He casually mentioned that he watched one of my private home tours and that’s why he ended up buying the house.

Wait a minute – I said. I only send private home tours to people who have requested info of me. That’s what happened in this case. He requested info on a Foreclosure, and I later filmed and sent a private video tour to everyone on my foreclosure list. He saw the video, liked the house, but decided to use another agent to buy it. Ouch.

Further and even more ironically, after our conversation about the lot, he put in an offer on it – you guessed it – through yet a different agent. The deal didn’t go through, and afterward he admitted he wished he had used me.

That makes two of us.

But that’s life these days. I realize I will miss out on some. Tough but true.

I have set up this site to allow you to be anonymous as long as possible, as long as you want to be. I just try to be as helpful as possible to that when it comes time to pick an agent, you pick me. If you do make that decision, please use this form to contact me, or email me at info @ LakeMartinVoice . Com , or call 334-221-5862.

Thanks!

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The House Gawker’s Home Tour on Lake Martin

There are a lot of fun things to do at Lake Martin. Each summer seems to bring a new spot to visit or a new sport to enjoy on the water. But there is no doubt about it – one of the most popular things to do is ride in the boat and look at waterfront homes.

Maybe you don’t want to actually go in them, maybe you’re just curious. Or maybe you really are considering buying, but just not this weekend. I can help. Just let me know where you will be staying on the lake, or what part of the lake you plan to visit, and I can make you a Home Tour map!

That way, as you drive around and see for sale signs on docks or on the street, you can check the list to get the sales info. Contact me my filling out this form or calling me at 334-221-5862 and I will be glad to help you make a map.

Not ready to talk to a cheesy ole realtor like me? I don’t blame you. Check out this How To video where I coach you on making your own map. If you do decide to do it, and see something you like, please let me know. I can help you with any property that is for sale, no matter who has it listed. The seller pays my commission so it doesn’t cost you a dime more to let me help you.

Have fun, and I hope to see you on the lake!

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Lake Martin MLS Search Tips

Kenneth and Melinda are looking around for a waterfront home on Lake Martin, and I am honored that they selected me to help them. A couple of weeks ago they were at the lake and we were looking around when Kenneth went into an unsolicited testimonial about the my Lake Martin home search – aka MLS search.

I can’t take all of the credit, FBS Data Systems runs our system, called FlexMLS. In my opinion there is no finer software solution or way to search for homes and lots. FlexMLS is an outstanding product that is very responsive, customizable, and relevant to the way that consumers would like to search.

Please take a minute to watch this video, where Kenneth explains how he started his Lake Martin home search with a couple of hundred potentially confusing possibilities, then whittled it to a managable twelve, then zeroed in on the five or six he wanted to see.

He searched on his desktop mostly, but then was able to save and transfer his favorites to his smart phone.  We even zoom in and Kenneth shows you how to do it on his phone. The great thing is that my website, Lake Martin Voice, and Lake Martin’s FlexMLS system automatically recognizes if you’re using a mobile phone and tailors the experience for you. Kenneth was able to find two more homes that he wanted to see while we were at the lake.

Would you like to start your own search for a waterfront home or lot at Lake Martin? Click here or above on the Property Search button and get started. Once there, click on a smiley face and it will allow you to save your favorites.  Don’t worry, the registration only comes to me, no spam.

Thanks again and way to go, Flex!!!!

 

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Lake Martin Market Report: First Quarter 2012

Lake Martin, Alabama, waterfront home sales continue the hot streak of 2011 by posting 43 homes sold in the first quarter of 2012.

I studied the Lake Martin MLS* to see how the home sales have been in the first three months of the year. Personally, this is the best January, February, and March that I have ever had, praise the Lord. But I wondered if my experience was atypical. Generally, Lake Martin home sales are coolest in the cool months, so what was the rest of the market doing?

A quick look at the numbers in the Lake Martin MLS, which includes all agents, all Lake Martin real estate brokerages, shows that in January of 2012, 12 waterfront homes were sold, in February of 2012 it was 11, and 20 homes were sold in March of 2012 for a total of 43. This number was the best since 2007’s 43 and almost equaled 2006’s 46.

Lake Martin Real Estate Trends for 2012

What does this mean? Is this brisk pace a good omen for Lake Martin sales in 2012? It’s too early to tell, I think. If you look at 2007, which had an equally good start, the drought and the real estate bubble bursting combined to crash the market that year. However, in 2006, a great first quarter signaled a great, but declining, sales market. We just won’t know until we have more data.

But the good news is that one thing is sure – this strong quarter shows us that the sales momentum from 2011 has continued.

Lake Martin Waterfront Foreclosures Update For 2012

The other day Jessica from the Alex City Outlook called me to interview me about foreclosures in the Lake Martin area. She asked me if I felt that foreclosures were increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. My first instinct was to say that they have stayed steady, based on this post where I detailed foreclosure trends for the last three years.

However, I looked at the numbers just in case, and was surprised.

Of the 43 waterfront homes sold through the Lake Martin MLS in the first three months of this year, 13 were listed as foreclosures. That’s 30%! Way over the 7% in each of 2009, 2010, and 2011. What does this mean? Is this finally the “huge flood of foreclosures” that we have been hearing about?

I don’t think so. I think it is merely pent up supply and a coincidence that they all fell in the same quarter. I base that opinion on the fact that there are only 12 other waterfront homes listed as foreclosures that are for sale right now out of 379 total homes for sale. That’s only 3% of the supply.

Wait a minute, you might say. Maybe the foreclosures are selling at a higher proportionate rate. Maybe they are the better deals and will be sold first, thereby skewing the market down.

Perhaps, you might be right. But I think we still need more data to be sure. Remember, the first two months of the year historically are some of our lowest sales totals. It doesn’t pay to draw too many conclusions.

Let’s be happy for a strong three months of sales on Lake Martin, but let’s reserve prognostication until we have a few more months under our belts. And since we don’t wear belts much around here, I guess I should say the elastic band on our swim suits.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Lot Sales 2011
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Year In Review

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)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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To Be A Good House Hunter, Know Thyself

Lake Martin spring sunrise
Spring time on Lake Martin means lake house hunting time, no doubt about it. Everywhere I have gone in the past couple of weeks, people have asked me, “I bet this warm weather has people out looking, huh?”

The answer is a big yes.  The warm weather also has everything blooming, and the turkeys gobbling.  We love spring!

If you are considering buying a Lake Martin home or lot this year, you might like this article I wrote for Lake Magazine – Lake Martin edition.  I titled it, “To Be A Good House Hunter, Know Thyself.”  I think the more introspection time you spend as a potential buyer, the better.

If you and your family are having a tough time coming up with conversation starters, try asking yourselves these questions:

  1. When at the lake, I see myself spending most of my time: (prioritize) a.) on the water; b.) on the dock; c.) on the back porch; d.) inside in the _____ room
  2. If I had to choose, would I rather have a nicer house on a smaller lot or a smaller house on a nicer lot?
  3. True or false, I simply must have enough water depth to be able to hop in my boat at my dock in late December and go boating.
  4. Would you rather be closer to your primary residence to have a shorter drive to the lake, or would you rather be closer to your favorite Lake Martin attractions and have a shorter drive to them when at the lake?
  5. If you think you won’t mind a fixer upper, how much money exactly and how much time are you willing to spend in year one?

These questions are just a start, feel free to supplement more that pertain to you. Come up with your own, and I encourage you to let ALL family members fill this out separately and then compare results together.

Be sure to check out Lake Magazine every month for what I think is the best lifestyle magazine in the Lake Martin area.  Some other good articles in the March issue are:

Find Shelter In Your Cellar – Henry Foy’s latest installment on wine

Wake TV – Sawyer Davis updates us on a new way to keep up with the wakeboarding world.

Age Old Native – I am a sucker for Kenneth Boone’s articles on local flora and fauna. This one is about ground cedar, aka Fan Clubmoss.

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