Lake Martin Voice Realty
Archive for the 'Real Estate Tips' Category
Are you selling your Lake Martin waterfront home “For Sale by Owner” (aka FSBO)?
Then let me tell you about a secret weapon.
Posterous.com is the best way right now to market your Lake Martin home, condo, or lot on the internet. I agree with its legions of fans that use it because it is SO easy. Once you set up your free account, it’s like having your own blog. It’s simple to add new info and update pages about your property, and it’s also easy to get that valuable information in front of potential buyers.
I use Posterous myself as a way to distribute pictures and quick videos. I’m such a big believer in Posterous, I’ve actually taught a couple of classes to Lake Martin area small business owners on how to use it to help their marketing. Lake Martin FSBOs can also use Posterous to help them sell their homes.
Surveys by Realtor.com prove what common sense tells us – internet marketing is a huge part of the real estate industry. 90% of home buyers use the web before they ever call a Realtor. So if you choose to sell your lakeside home yourself – you need to tap into this marketing engine.
4 cool things about Posterous.com:
1. FREE – it’s free to get an account. Once you have an account, it’s like having your own blog.
2. Easy to add info – if you can send an email, you can add web pages to your Posterous blog. Take a few pictures of each room. Attach them to an email, let the subject be “kitchen” or “lake view” or whatever. Type description in the body of the email. Send the email to [email protected] Do this for every room or vista of your lakefront property. Each email will create a new blog post, and thus go a long way to describing your property.
3. It cuts down on a lot of curious types and can also serve to qualify your buyers. When those tire kickers, or even legitimate buyers, call you for a showing, refer them to your Posterous blog first, so they can check it out before they come physically.
4. Email a video, too! Shoot a clip and email it to your Posterous blog. Posterous will embed the video. So easy.
Granted, a free blog like this will not gain the instant attention from the search engines and social media that an established site like Lake Martin Voice will. Years of work and hundreds of posts have built up credibility for Lake Martin Voice.com and my related pages on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I don’t blog for vanity, I do it to sell homes, lots, and condos.
Obviously, I would love to help anyone on Lake Martin. But hey, if you choose to sell your Lake Martin home yourself, Posterous is a great tool. So great, in fact, that I rank it as a secret weapon.
If you think you might need some help selling your Lake Martin property, we would love to hep. Contact us here or call at 334 221 5862.
I love to use full motion video tours to market Lake Martin homes. I think it’s a cool use of today’s technology, but mostly I love video because buyers and sellers love it.
Sellers like it, too. When I show them how much a full motion video tour helps spotlight selling points, give context (how do you get to the lake from the kitchen?), and keep buyers’ attention, it’s a no-brainer. They want a video.
When a video is not a video..
Again, I realize all of this is pretty obvious. People want video of homes on Lake Martin or any other real estate market for that matter. Realtors everywhere are interested in doing more video, hence the (very flattering) invitation that ReTechSouth gave me to teach this class on real estate video at their conference in Atlanta.
With so many agents now trying to provide video, sometimes you encounter a slide show that is put in the “Video Tours” link on the Lake Martin MLS. These photo slide shows are also known as “Virtual Tours.” Not the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, Virtual Tours aren’t bad per se. They are better than nothing. But most of the time when you click on it and watch, you are seeing a photo slide show of the pictures you just viewed, only set to Yanni /John Teshian muzak.
Why would you want to watch a slide show of pictures that you just saw on the MLS, only set to muzak? I don’t know. Like I said, it’s better than nothing and I certainly don’t fault other agents for using them. Just don’t call it a video.
That’s why I take pains (often) to point out that I do FULL MOTION video tours. I shoot them, walking through and around the lake homes WITH A VIDEO CAMERA.
Can you tell the difference?
I have long desired take the same property and to put a full motion video against a cheesy virtual tour, just to show the difference. But the problem is, I don’t do virtual tours. I would have to use someone else’s Virtual Tour as a comparison to my video. I’ve never done it because I don’t want to appear to be negative about another agent. Nor would another agent allow me to post their virtual tour on my blog. So I’ve never had a side-by-side comparison. Again, my goal here is not to criticize but to explain why I go to so much trouble to (attempt to) do a nice video.
Now we can.
Unit 202C in Harbor Pointe is one of my current listings. Therefore I have a full motion tour of it. Coincidentally, I had the same unit listed back in 2006. So – for illustrative purposes only – I have gone back in time and grabbed my pics from the initial listing. Nobody should get their feelings hurt – these are my old pics taken with my old point and shoot. No wide angles, no nothing.
I have created a typical Virtual Tour, and will let you be the judge.
Which one do you like the best? If you were a buyer, which gives you more information? Context? Makes you want to take the next step?
If you were a seller on Lake Martin, which would you want to be used for your home, lot or condo?
Here’s the typical slide show. Now, PLEASE keep in mind – I DON’T DO THESE! It’s for illustrative purposes only! You may want to turn your speakers down a bit – Yanni doesn’t allow any voice overs to mar his sultry Virtual Tours’ insomnia fighting tunes.
What did you think?
Next, here’s the full motion video tour that I did for this condo, and also one I did a few years ago about Harbor Pointe in general. Turn your speakers back up - you can hear a narration description.
How about it? Can you please vote below?
You won’t have to give any personal info. It’s completely anonymous.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.
A Lake Martin Foreclosure Update
If a cliche gets repeated enough, it becomes empty and loses all meaning. Every male whitetail that we see on the side of the road – especially during hunting season – is an 8 point buck. I’ve never heard different – “Dude, I was driving home last night and I saw this huge 8 point.” Never a 6. Or “I’m not sure.”
Almost every police briefing I’ve ever seen opens with “At this time” and repeats it several times. “At this time we are searching,” or “At this time we are asking,” or “At this time we have in custody.” Of course it is at this time.
“(So and so is) here for the right reasons” – you hear this a lot during recruiting season. Coaches are always so happy because every single player that committed did so “for the right reasons.” All their coaching staff is there “for the right reasons.” Consider the opposite – how helpful would it be to announce that you plan to NOT recruit kids who want to be there for the WRONG reasons. You also hear it a lot on these silly reality shows like the Bachelor. I am sure that you, dear intellectual reader, do not stoop to watch such drivel, so I will let you know that I have heard that every single bachelor since Season One is in earnest search for ladies who are “here for the right reasons.”
That’s a long intro to get to Lake Martin foreclosures.
I bring in these cliches at this time for the right reasons.
Twice this week I have heard a Lake Martin foreclosure cliche. Buyers often ask:
Aren’t Lake Martin foreclosures selling for fifty cents on the dollar?”
(I could riff on the minutiae of this forever. It’s never expressed as fifty percent of anything. Or half of anything. It’s always fifty cents on the dollar. And never 53 cents. Never 47 cents.)
So can you buy a Lake Martin waterfront home for half price? My answer is: “Yes and no.” It depends on what you are calculating. Fifty percent of current listing price? Fifty percent of the original listing price? Or fifty percent of what the builder hoped it would sell for in 2007?”
I hear, “Well, I know for a fact my cousin bought a home in Tallahassee last year, and he told me it sold for fifty cents on the dollar.”
Pause the conversation – let me say here that I cannot blame a buyer one bit for wanting an extremely good deal. If my cousin told me this, or if I saw it on the Today show, I would get my hopes up too.
My job as a responsible Lake Martin real estate agent is to help buyers gather accurate information. I don’t ask these questions to cross examine or doubt them, but to examine the information from which they are making assumptions. Once I start asking questions, if they are working with a real world example of their cousin (instead of just the Today show), the more questions I ask, the more realistic it gets. “Well, he bought his foreclosure in Mediumburg for 150,000 and I know that’s different than Lake Martin. Well, yes, the listing price from the bank was only $200,000. But three years before that, the builder was asking $300,000.”
OK – I see. In a certain manner, I can see the fifty cents on the dollar with that example. Furthermore, I can point to many examples like that with Lake Martin foreclosures on waterfront homes. But, if a waterfront home has already been foreclosed upon, it is pretty rare to sell for fifty percent of the current listing price.
I suppose I could, if I wanted, advertise similar deals going on in the Lake Martin real estate: Lake homes for 50% off! I would have to put in real tiny print “As compared to the wishful thinking listing price of 2007.”
(I can think of several bank stocks that I used to own that I wish still would sell for what they did in 2007.)
That’s why, whether I am helping buyers or sellers, I try to help them concentrate on today’s prices. Today’s situation. Forget yesterday. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to buy a foreclosure, or competing to sell against one. It’s all the same.
Buyers want a good deal. Same as always. Sellers want the best deal for their home. Same as always.
The Lake Martin real estate market is still seeing some new foreclosures on waterfront homes, condos, and lots. There hasn’t been a flood, or a second wave, or anything like that. Taken as a percent of market, we still don’t have as many foreclosures as compared to the rest of the nation.
The foreclosures, short sales, and conventional sellers that we do have on Lake Martin are enough to effect the market, though. Supply and demand.
Would You Like Our List Of Lake Martin Foreclosures?
Click here and fill out the form.
Do you own a waterfront home, lot, or condo on Lake Martin, and are wondering what it might be worth? Contact us here or at 334 221 5862 and we can work you up a free, no hassle, no obligation Comparable Market Analysis.
You’ve signed a contract to buy the Lake Martin waterfront home of your dreams (woo hoo!), and now you’re interested in having a home inspection. Home inspections are usually pretty straightforward deals, but in a rural, waterfront market like Lake Martin, sometimes there’s a little more to consider.
Watch the video below, and I’ll give you 6 tips for a successful Lake Martin home inspection . Hopefully, this will help you really get to know the Lake Martin property you are about to buy.
In short (for the ADD), here are my home inspection tips:
1) FSBOs – have an inspection before you put your home on the market.
2) Call a sea wall contractor to inspect sea walls – home inspectors may not be certified in this area.
3) Contact Alabama Power Shoreline Management to inquire about changing the structure of an existing dock. They permit all dock construction at Lake Martin.
4) Call an irrigation contractor to inspect wells and pumps that pull water from Lake Martin for irrigation. Home inspectors do not typically inspect these.
5) Call a dock building company to inspect your docks and floating docks.
6) Call a septic tank installer to inspect your septic tank. Most homes on Lake Martin rely on individual septic systems.
What about you, Dear Reader?
Do you have any tips from your home inspection? Let me hear about them. Leave a reply and comment below. Lake Martin is such a huge place, surely there are more than 6 tips!
I was talking to a buyer from out of state the other day. We were planning his trip to Lake Martin to look at some homes for sale. We have spent a lot of time talking on the phone, and he has spent time on the computer, going through homes and looking at pictures and video online. We have narrowed down his choices from 30 to six waterfront homes.
Then he asked, “How long will it take us to go through and see these?”
I budget about 45 minutes per home.
Why? Two reasons:
1. Lake Martin is big
This may be obvious. Lake Martin has about 770 miles of shoreline. It stretches over 3 of our central Alabama counties. Sometimes it takes 45 or 50 minutes just to drive from one end of it to the other. Naturally, you have to factor in some drive times. In fact, if some buyers want to see as many as 10 or so homes, and if they are spread around Lake Martin, I will suggest that they break that up into two different days. This is why smart buyers make thorough use of my listing videos, pictures, and even private video tours to cut their research time down drastically.
2. Lake Martin is rural
That may be why you are coming here. But most Lake Martin “neighborhoods” are only loosely defined. There are no long rows of tract housing that you can walk door to door to door. Many are barely connected by county roads, so the going can be slow. But, like I said, aren’t you coming here for a slower pace?
As you can see, travel time is a big reason it takes 45 minutes per home. Another is that you really have double the factors when you look at a waterfront home than you do on a “town” home: the inside, and the water.
It takes a while, especially when every home is different. Lake Martin doesn’t have any areas where the same builder has gone in and built 50 homes, each with slight variations. These homes were built, one by one, by different builders, for different owners with different tastes. Vive la différence.
How do you get from the kitchen to the lake? If you’re talking in the back of the home, can you hear it up front? Questions like these can only be answered on site.
Another obvious point, but the water is hugely important. You have to judge each home or lot based on fuzzy criteria like view, privacy, depth, and potential. Due to changes in topography and landscaping, this can vary widely home to home. even if they are neighbors.
I tweak my formula slightly based on the weather, time of year, and who all is coming with us. Are you bringing kids who will want to swim at every stop? Or Gammer and Gaffer that will want to stop at every c-store for a break? Have you ever been to the lake or are you a veteran? Here’s a sure sign the showings will be slowest, but most fun: are you bringing three or four friends along, with refreshments?
My algorithms are private, and patent pending. The only way you can see if I schedule you up or down from 45 minutes is to contact me and make an appointment!
As a Realtor on Lake Martin, I get asked about foreclosures a lot. Lake Martin’s waterfront real estate market seems to be a little different from other second home markets, and that is currently creating a unique spot in the market cycle for buyers and sellers. Watch this video, and I’ll try to explain:
Basically, I think the Lake Martin waterfront real estate market bottomed in 2008. Numbers of waterfront homes sold were up about 40% in 2009, and steady with that in 2010. 2011 seems to be trending above 2010 for numbers of homes sold. Prices stopped dropping in 2010. You can say what you want about the economy, the President, the Congress, or the price of tea in China. If this isn’t a clear sign of recovery for the Lake Martin market, I don’t know what is. If the dreaded double-dip happens, you will hear about it here first, but it’s got to start dipping to be a double-dip.
I also get asked a lot about specific homes that are on other websites and are listed as foreclosures. People ask me, “Hey John, why isn’t 123 Main Street on your list? I see it on McHuge McForeclosuresite.com.” The answer is, 99% of the time, by the time they get to McHuge, they have already been foreclosed, listed with an agent, and sold. McHuge is way, way slow.
Lake Martin is made up of 3 rural counties in east central Alabama. There is virtually zero online newspaper coverage of legal notices or foreclosures. The huge aggregator websites pick up information that is old, inaccurate, and many times, not waterfront.
So, I make my own list of foreclosures, and am glad to share it. If you’d like to request a current list of waterfront foreclosure properties, just fill out the form (I do not spam, nor do I give, sell, buy, or receive email accounts from anyone or any other company. Read more about why you need to fill out a form).
Here’s a tip: If you’ve requested it before, THERE’S NO NEED TO RE-REQUEST to get the latest list. Just bookmark or “favorite” the page on your internet browser, and you’ll get the most recently updated lists.
Send your request, check out the current list, and call me if you see anything interesting! (334 221 5862)
Almost every day I talk to Lake Martin buyers who feel that the waterfront real estate here is still overpriced. On certain properties, I agree with them. I guess that’s the case in any sort of market – buyer’s or seller’s. It’s true – there are some good deals out there – but you definitely will not get a good deal if you don’t make an offer.
I was very honored that Marty selected me to help him look for a Lake Martin home. He ended up buying the third house on which he made an offer. The first house was a foreclosure, and the bank apparently didn’t want to sell it for what he wanted to pay. The next house was from a regular seller, but they didn’t come to terms. Maybe the third time is the charm, because this one worked out for him. In this testimonial, Marty gives us all some good advice on being persistent, being patient, and making offers.
If you would like me to help you find your dream lake home, please contact me, or call me at 334 221 5862. There is still plenty of time to find a Lake Martin waterfront home (or lot or condo) and enjoy it this spring.
Laura’s husband signed a contract on a Lake Martin waterfront home, even though she’d never set foot on the property. Sounds like a pretty trusting wife! Well, that’s true, but Laura also had a powerful tool that many Lake Martin buyers do not have access to: Lake Martin Voice Realty’s private video tour service.
We make a lot of videos. If you roll through our video channels on this website, you’ll see testimonials, custom Lake Martin Voice listing videos, and community information segments. But what you won’t see are the many private tours we make for our clients eyes only.
Sounds a little weird, but it’s actually pretty simple.
As members of the Lake Martin MLS, we can show anything in the lake area. We can’t market other Realtors’ listings, but we can make private video tours for our out-of-town buyers, and give them an exclusive link to view these homes online. Lake Martin has over 700 miles of shoreline, and it’s physically hard to see as many homes in a day as you can in the city.
Sometimes photos alone (virtual tours are photos, by the way) make it hard to “get the feeling” of a home or understand how the floor plan works. Sometimes photos just aren’t enough. Many of our clients have used these private, walk-through, video tours to narrow their search, and make their house hunt as efficient as possible.
As our client, Brent, says in the video below, “I didn’t want to drive up here and look at 200 houses.”
These private tours are also helpful when a property hits the MLS that we consider an exceptional “Best Buy” that probably won’t last long. For example, if we know you’re looking for a great deal in, say, the Parker Creek area, and one comes along, we can drop by the house, create a video tour, and have it in your inbox very quickly. You watch the video, and decide if it’s worth viewing in person.
There’s only one catch: you have to be a Lake Martin Voice Realty client. Contact us and put us to work.
Membership has its privileges, even if they are kind of geeky.
REtechSouth, the best real estate conference in the southeast, has asked me to teach a class on how to do real estate video. It’s being held at the Gwinnett Center in Atlanta on March 31 & April 1, 2011.
I’m really honored to be among this list of speakers, which includes not only some of the brightest technology minds in the country, but also some of the most successful real estate agents who are using it.
If you are an agent, or even remotely connected to the real estate industry, I would highly recommend that you attend. It is the only paid conference I attend every year. The speakers range from the extremely practical to visionary. This gives you a great mix of things you can implement tomorrow and ideas of what will be happening a year from now. I keep my notes. I still have some from my very first year that I consult when I need help (which is often).
My class is “Jump Start Your Video Production: For the Camera Shy.” I plan to address agents who can only use their phone for video and also the agent with a more sophisticated equipment and editing setup. We go baby step by baby step and will talk about the ways to not only shoot the video, but how to upload it, what to shoot, and how to use it to help your buyer and seller clients. I think I have produced a little over 200 real estate videos for the Lake Martin area, and have been blessed to have over 54,000 views of those on YouTube alone.
I also want to thank my current readers and clients, because your requests have helped me figure out what people want in an agent. I consider this speaking engagement as a vote for the Lake Martin area! We may be small but we can still have a positive impact in the real estate industry!
Everything I teach will be based on my day to day life as a “real” real estate agent, and the tremendous amount of trial and error I have experienced up to this point. I am also looking forward to learning from the audience. One of the great things about REtechSouth is that it draws such a diverse and accomplished crowd, you learn as much from the audience’s input as you do from the speaker’s. Therefore I know there will be lots of folks in the crowd that will know way more about this than I do. I hope they pipe up and help me out!
This is the fourth year of REtechSouth. Last year the conference drew over 700 attendees from over 20 states. Speakers will be teaching 51 classes. I don’t mean to sound like I am sucking up, but even the sponsors are noteworthy. Usually at these type of events I (being cheap) talk to them just long enough to score a free pen and notepad or some breath mints. But these guys are actually helpful; I find myself peppering them with questions instead of the other way around.
Ignore the fact that little ole me is included and check out the rock star list of speakers:
the conference schedule:
and go here to register:
If you are planning to stay at the Gwinnett Center at the Holiday Inn, be sure to select the one on Sugarloaf Parkway. There are two in Duluth and the Sugarloaf Parkway one is within walking distance of the conference.
I hope to see you there!
2010 proved to be a pivotal one for waterfront home sales on Lake Martin. But what about waterfront lot sales? Would they follow the pattern set by homes? That is, would our real estate market see an increase in number of lots sold, then finally a halt to the drops in prices?
Well, first we have to see an increase in the number of waterfront lots sold on Lake Martin in a year. Prior years have seen that number slide. So what happened in 2010?
2010 was a great year on Lake Martin for waterfront lot sales. Lot sellers saw that the number of lots sold jumped from a bottom of 18 in 2008 and 19 in 2009 to a healthy 27 in 2010.
Market Shift in Waterfront Lots
I think that this increase signals a market shift for Lake Martin waterfront lots. Tracking the number of lots sold should tell us that changes in prices are not far behind. We have studied this theory, and now seen it in practice with waterfront homes on Lake Martin.
While waterfront home sales bounced back in 2009, it took until 2010 until prices quit falling, as we saw in this market report.
Similarly, I think that 2011 lot sales will display that same trend. I think that if – that’s if - we see continued strong lot sales, prices will stop declining in 2011. Therefore my best guess is that it will be 2012 before we have any real chance of seeing lot prices of up. Obviously, 2011 sales will dictate that.
At the end of December, 2010, the Lake Martin MLS showed that 162 waterfront lots had the status of “Active” – aka are for sale. That means that at the sales rate of 27 per year of 2010, it would take 6 years to sell all of the lots. That’s 72 months of inventory. Tons. That’s my one reservation for predicting too quick a stop of slide on prices. The “months of inventory” number needs to be drastically reduced before the market will exert any upward pressure, in my opinion.
Waterfront Lots Sold: Price Distribution
It’s always interesting to see how the prices of lots sold on Lake Martin look.
A Word On Price Per Waterfront Foot
In my opinion, the single BIGGEST screw up that Lake Martin buyers, flippers, appraisers, real estate agents, and bankers made in the “boom times” was estimating a lot’s worth at price per waterfront foot. Maybe it didn’t hurt the average lot buyer too bad but I can think of 3 or 4 specific incidents where people bought, say, 1,000 feet of Lake Martin shoreline and applied some vague price per square foot to it, and assumed they made money when they bought it.
Many of those parcels of land are in foreclosure now, but they are in the form of failed subdivisions. This method IS WAY TOO INACCURATE to be used. To wit:
In 2010 the least expensive waterfront lot was sold for $30,000 – a 100 foot lot north of the 280 River Bridge. Yes, $300 / waterfront foot.
One of 2010′s most expensive lots sold was one in the Russell Lands development of Trillium. The Lake Martin MLS stated it had about 427 waterfront feet and sold at $900,000 – or about $2,100 per waterfront foot.
$300 to $2,100 – that’s a pretty wide spread. Don’t be tempted to dumb things down and use averages. Avoid that method all together and use the comparable sales method like we do for homes.
Do you own a waterfront lot on Lake Martin and are wondering how this news affects you? Or maybe you are looking for one. We can help. Please contact us here or at 334 221 5862.
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Waterfront Lots
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
(*)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.