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Archive for the 'Real Estate Tips' Category

Lake Martin Waterfront Home Sales Beat Prior Year

It’s official, Lake Martin waterfront home sales in 2011 will be better than 2010.

Through October 31, 2011, 195 waterfront homes were sold on Lake Martin. If you check the Lake Martin real estate market for the entire year of 2010, you see that it took the full 12 months to reach the 195 level, and 194 were sold in 2009.

Since unofficial November 2011 results show that at least a few waterfront homes sold, one can confidently say that we beat the prior year of 2010.

My conservative guess is that the Lake Martin real estate market will finish 2011 with about 205 waterfront home sales.  That equals an approximate 5% jump from 2010, and about 49% up from the post bubble low in 2008.

Lake Martin Waterfront Home Sales By Month

The below chart shows Lake Martin waterfront property home sales by month.  It is from January 1, 2008 to October 31, 2011.  You can see that 2011, at a monthly level, beat 2010 at almost every month.  Please keep in mind that these numbers come from the Lake Martin MLS*, and reflect only waterfront home, condo, and town home sales by all members of the Lake Martin MLS, all brokerages.

Cumulative Lake Martin Waterfront Home Sales

If you take the monthly sales numbers for the Lake Martin real estate market and add them together, you get the cumulative sales results.  To me it is a bit easier to judge at a glance on this chart to tell how the year in total is trending versus prior years.

Please see the below chart.  Here again I start at the post bubble low year of 2008 and bring it through October 31, 2011.

Lake Martin Home Sales Versus Same Month Prior Year

Of all the numbers I crunch, of all my nerdly charts, the below one is the one I watch the most. It tracks how each month fares versus the same month in the prior year.  For example, in October 2011, 15 waterfront homes were sold on Lake Martin.  October 2010 saw 13 sales, all agents, all brokerages.  That gives us a +2 rating for the current month.

Any positive number here is good.  If I see several months in a row of negative numbers, I know that Lake Martin is in danger of stalling again.  If we had been watching closely in 2006, we could have seen this coming.

The second home market here at Lake Martin has been on a win streak since since mid 2008.  Has 2011 kept it rolling?  The answer is yes.

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Sales

Has the momentum in home sales been mirrored in Lake Martin lots?

The answer for 2011 has been yes.

While October 2011 itself racked zero waterfront lots sold, the year in total has been a runaway success.  Through October 31, thirty three lots have sold in 2011.  Compare that to 27 for all of 2010, and you see a hefty gain. Consider that 2010 was the lot comeback year, and you can appreciate the gravity of 2011′s success.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that 2008 and 2009 represented a two year divot for Lake Martin lot sales.

I like lot sales because they are a general barometer of construction potential.  Let’s hope that our construction industry feels the trickle soon.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Through May
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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Bluto – The Lake Martin Bear Market is Over!

"Zero point zero..."

Bluto Blutarsky might not want to admit it, but the bear market in Lake Martin waterfront real estate is over!  As I have said many times on my various posts about Lake Martin Market Reports, I think the tide turned in the middle of 2008.

People keep talking about it, though, and that is understandable. So I covered the topic in my latest article in Lake Magazine.  Here’s the link:

Nothing’s Over Until We Decide It Is

I am very grateful to publisher Kenneth Boone, aka Mr. Perfect, for allowing me to write these columns this year for his excellent Lake Martin Magazine.  I have really enjoyed the different medium of writing that his magazine offers, and also relished the crossover discussions I have had with those who read his magazine more than they read my blog.

So if you are a Lake Martin Voice blog reader who is unfamiliar with Lake Martin Magazine, please check it out online and in print. They have the best photography around, and (present company excluded) some of the the best writing as well.

Movie References

When I think of the phrase “it’s over” – I always think of Animal House.  However, as I was working on this article, I initially wanted to reference a different movie that also uses “it’s over” but in a much more dramatic way:

Rambo – First Blood.

It's over, Johnny.

There’s that scene where the hard core Green Beret Colonel Trautman comes to the hick town to reign in his master warrior John Rambo, played of course, by Sly.

It really is a much better scene to convey the shake-them-into-reality feel that I wanted.

He hollers at Rambo:

“It’s over Johnny!”

I even was going to let that be the headline. But I thought it might confuse the reader into thinking he was screaming at me. Plus, Vietnam is not really a good comparison to second home real estate on Lake Martin.  I didn’t want to stir up images of that.

Stallone fan or not, you have to admit that was a great movie, and an even better scene.

Even more, it launched an entire sub industry of survival knives.

I bought one at the Santuck Flea Market when I was 11 or 12.  I still have it.  I didn’t use it to fight any commies or even cauterize my own wounds but we do use it to dig up weeds in our yard.

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New Foreclosure Field In Lake Martin MLS

Those interested in waterfront foreclosure homes or lots for sale on Lake Martin, Alabama, should take note of an interesting development.

The Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors’ MLS has made a new rule that any waterfront foreclosure home, lot, or condo should be designated as a foreclosure by selecting “Yes” in a new field of input in the MLS called “Foreclosure.”

Click here –> to request the Lake Martin Foreclosure List

FAQ related to this new development in Lake Martin waterfront foreclosures:

Photo By: randrflyfishing.com

1. What is a “field” in the Lake Martin MLS? A field is just an area of input.  List price is a field.  Number of bedrooms is a field.  Number of baths is a field, etc.  Now, Foreclosure is its own field, with the only possible answers being Yes / No.

2. So what?  Why should I care that Foreclosure has its own field?  Anything that has its own field can be searched easily and accurately.  An easy search that yields good results is a good thing.  Just ask Google.  This will allow you, if you like, to view only waterfront foreclosures by searching in the MLS and looking for 3 criteria: 1. Status = Active, 2. Waterfront = Yes, 3. Foreclosure = Yes.  This is how I search now instead of combing through each new listing and looking at the seller’s name.

3. How does this affect Lake Martin Voice’s foreclosure list? I have switched the search results now to show any waterfront homes or lots for sale that have Yes in the Foreclosure field.  So – if you have requested my foreclosure list in the past – THERE IS NO NEED TO RE REQUEST IT.  Just go to that same web address I gave you before.  It will still work.

4. Are the same homes and lots that were on the old foreclosure list, now showing up on the new list?  Mostly.  There are a few lots on the old foreclosure list that the listing agents have not properly changed that field.  But it’s mostly accurate.  Obviously, any MLS is only as good as the agents that use it, so it is still possible for a listing agent to enter a new home for sale and accidentally click “No” in the Foreclosure field.  But it’s not very probable.

5. How often is your Lake Martin waterfront foreclosure list updated?  Whenever any realtor enters a new listing, or changes an old one, my new list is updated almost instantly.  That is the beauty of a field driven search list versus the old list where it depended on me going in there and designating each waterfront foreclosure by hand.  Again, if you have requested this list before, THERE IS NO NEED TO RE REQUEST IT.  Just go to that same web address I gave you before.  It will still work.

6. If it is so easy to search for waterfront foreclosures on Lake Martin now, why do I need you or your stinking list? Well, since you put it like that – you don’t.  You can search for yourself as described in #2 above.  Of course, I don’t need a trout fishing guide.  I know how to get to the river.  I know how to cast.  Sorry guides don’t help me at all.  But great guides – well, I hire them because they teach me.  They tell me which fly is working today, and the 90% of the water I can skip to get to the 10% that’s the best.  When it comes to my own deal, I haven’t set my business up to tell that tired old real estate tale that we agents guard this secret treasure of info.  That is so pre 2002.  Hogwash.  Information is out there and free. You don’t need me for mere raw data.  You can search here in the Lake Martin MLS and call me with your whittled down list and I can advise you then.  Or you can contact me through this form or call me at 334-221-5862 and I can save you the trouble.  Either way, I aim to more than earn my keep.

7. How can I request to see Lake Martin waterfront foreclosure list?

Fill out THIS FORECLOSURE REQUEST FORM.  Feel free to comment on this post, but please note that COMMENTING ON THIS POST DOESN’T GET YOU THE LIST.  You must fill out THIS FORM Thanks. Again, if you have requested this list before, THERE IS NO NEED TO RE REQUEST IT.  Just go to that same web address I gave you before.  It will still work.

8. Where is the entire list? I requested and received your list, but there are not many on there.  Joe Biden, Matt Lauer, AND Ryan Seacrest all told me that every home for sale in America is a foreclosure and costs 10 cents.  What gives?  Despite the collective economic wisdom of those guys, there are some areas that are NOT still being rocked by foreclosures.  Lake Martin is one of them.  We are averaging about 5% of waterfront homes for sale being foreclosures, not 30% like in other markets.

Please stay tuned to this blog for later posts where I will try to make some how to videos to help you search.  In the meantime, please call me at 334-221-5862 if I may help.


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Lake Martin Best Buy Lists: Pick Your Price and Find Home Value

A lot of Lake Martin buyers request my waterfront Foreclosure List.  You may be one of them.  If you’ve seen it recently, you know that the Foreclosure list is steadily dwindling.  Does this mean that there are only a few good deals left on Lake Martin?  Not at all.

Don and Kristie are a great example of clients who originally called me about foreclosures, but quickly realized that there are plenty of good buys out there in the regular market.

YouTube Preview Image

It can be overwhelming to sort through the hundreds of waterfront properties in the Lake Martin MLS, but I’ve found that a lot of buyers want to do their own research before they call a Realtor.  My goal with this website is to give you the best tools for that research. 

Enter my Best Buy Lists.

Very few buyers come with a carte blanche checkbook, so I’ve created 2 3 lists based on price range.  (I’m working on just created a $600k to $1m list, so if that price range speaks to you, be on the lookout, or just go ahead and call me): 

1. Best Buys $350K and Under

2. Best Buys $351-599K

3. Best Buys $600k – $1 million.

Click here to request a Lake Martin Best Buy List

Each list is a compilation of waterfront properties that are worth considering based on a combination of price, features, and my professional opinion.   A lot of these homes are not our listings because I pull from the entire  Lake Martin Area MLS.  You’ll find the Best Buy Lists button at the top right corner of this page.

So this is real estate 2011.  Buyers used to have to call a Realtor before they could get the goods.  We can’t hoard information anymore – it’s  all over the Internet.  I’ve decided that if I organize it for you and make it available with no strings attached, you might appreciate it enough to contact me when you’re feeling serious.

Plus, the real value in a good Realtor is his/her ability to point out the best deals and crucial trends that will affect your purchase.  Would you go to a stockbroker merely because he knows what stocks are selling for?  No.  You want a stock broker that can advise you.  Same deal here.  The information age is over.  Information is free and ubiquitous.  You need advice and that’s what I like to provide.

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if I can help you with Lake Martin real estate in any way.



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Attack Of The Accountants

In my opinion, real estate advice that is based on folksy anecdotes is for chumps.

lake martin accountants are buyingI mean to say – buying any sort of real estate, much less a waterfront home or lot on Lake Martin, is a big decision.  You shouldn’t rely on other people’s whimsical stories or vague opinions as evidence to buy or not.  In fact, this is one of the main reasons that I started this blog back in 2007 – to give hard facts…. verifiable evidence… the real story of what is going on with Lake Martin waterfront home, condo and lot sales.

That being said, please allow me to indulge in an anecdote once in four years.  Please don’t take it seriously:

Accountants are attacking Lake Martin!

A couple of weeks ago I had a stretch of seven days where I showed homes to five different accountants.  Two of them were actually  married to each other.  That’s right, a husband and wife CPA team.  One of them joked that the CPA stands for “Can’t Pass Again.”  Maybe, but in her case I doubt it.  I majored in Accounting in college and after I graduated I didn’t sit for the CPA exam. I took and passed the CMA – which for me stood for “Scared of the CPA Exam.”

Spending college and the first phase of my career in the accounting world taught me that the cliches are mostly true.  We accountants are a nerdy, math-brained, hyper analytical, careful with money bunch.

Here comes the anecdotal advice:

lake martin buy real estate waterfrontIf a bunch of unrelated CPAs think that Lake Martin is a good buy, isn’t that a good sign?

Sure, it’s folksy, I know.  But it’s a cute story.  Think about it – isn’t it a good testimonial for Lake Martin?  Like if your doctor actually exercised as much as she nags you to do?  Like if your insurance agent actually bought those awful whole life policies at full retail prices instead of trying to sell these “great investments” to you?  Like if the Turtle Man said, “Wow – there’s no way I’m swimming in that nasty pond,” would you swim in it?

Sit on the sidelines if you want, but, as your CPA will tell you, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth.

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Trolling Facebook Works

Unlike many of the people who use it, I freely admit to spending time on Facebook.

Why not?  It’s where about 25% of page views in America are happening on the web.  For a business like mine that relies so heavily on the web and personal referrals, it’s a no brainer.

Mondays and Tuesdays are a good time for me to troll my friends’ photos on Facebook to see if they have posted some fun pictures taken on Lake Martin from that previous weekend.  It’s too bad I can’t freely post them here, because these are some of the best testimonials for Lake Martin that exist on the web.

Recently I came across a nice shot of Lake Martin taken from the back deck by a couple whom I helped find their lake home.  This is their first summer on Lake Martin and they are loving it, as you can tell by the picture.

It is also fun to read everyone’s comments like “beautiful” .. and “can’t wait to join you” and the like.


What about you?

Are you considering buying a waterfront home or lot or condo on Lake Martin?

Feel free to search the Lake Martin MLS here – or give me a call at 334 221 5862 or email me through this contact form.

I would love to help you have a back porch view like this one!


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Rent Vs Buy – Lake Martin Math

One of most enjoyable parts about writing this blog about Lake Martin real estate are some of the questions and comments I get from readers.

A couple of weeks ago I guy emailed me to ask me what I thought about his plan of renting a home on Lake Martin next year from May to September for $3,750 per month.

I thought that it was an interesting concept.  I don’t know if he was planning to rent a Russell cabin or not.   Regardless, here is how I answered him:

“Thanks for your your email.  My guess is that you will probably have a tough time finding someone to rent to you May through September.    That is the peak season here on Lake Martin.  Most long term renters require 12 months.  This goes double for Russell cabins.  If you want to hear someone get tickled, call them and tell them you only want to rent during those months.

If you are really serious about renting a home, I would try lakemartin.com and go to the rentals section.  That is how most people rent their homes on Lake Martin, either long term or short (nightly or weekly) term.

However, one thing to think about – if you assume 5 months rent at $3,750 – at the end of which you would have nothing and it’s (probably) NOT tax deductible.  that’s 5 * $3,750 = $18,750 in total cash out for rent.

If you divide $18,750 by 12, it gives $1,562 you could pay per month on a bank loan.  Assuming 4.25% interest you could service the debt on a $320,000 loan.  At an 80% loan to value ratio, that assumes you can buy a $400,000 lake house.  You can buy a nice waterfront home on Lake Martin for $400,000 these days.

In other words, for the money you spent in rent for only 5 months, you could pay for a $400k waterfront home for a year.  At the end of the year, you are still the owner.  You can deduct your mortgage interest (probably, check with your CPA).  About $13,200 of that is mortgage interest payments, so if you assume a tax of 35% that’s a net effect of a $4,620 discount (35% * 13,200).  Again, check with your CPA to be sure.

All this assumes that Lake Martin home values don’t rise between now and December 2012 (which I think they are likely to do).  If / when they do, you gain on your home value as a direct result.  If you are renting, your landlord will just raise the rent.

With home prices this low, and rates this low, it really makes the case against renting.  Even for 5 months.  Much less 12 months.”

What about you?

Have you thought about renting a home on Lake Martin, and are wondering how it compares to buying one?  I would be glad to help you consider your options. Please use this contact form to email me or call me at 334 221 5862.

Maybe you weren’t thinking about 5 months at $3,750 per, but I am sure you still might like to entertain the notion of buying.

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Lake Martin Dream Cabin Renovation In Parker Creek

For so many people, Lake Martin conjures up visions of rustic, quaint cabins on tree-filled lots.  Many lake-lovers spent summers at a relative’s cabin.  Maybe they never took part in the spring removing of the ladybugs, or cared that the window unit above their bed leaked a little.  It was fun to bunk up with 4 other cousins in a room that wasn’t really a bedroom.  7 year olds don’t notice that the floor in the kitchen isn’t exactly level. But what they do remember is all they fun they had as a family . . .

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So fast forward thirty years.  Wanting to re-create those laid back, family friendly memories for their own kids, a search is begun for a rustic “cabin” to call their own.  If you’ve been around the lake for any length of time, you know lots of these cabins require buyers to have a little vision.

You’ve also heard that around Lake Martin, the LOT is everything: you can change your house, but you can’t change your lot.  Many times that old, rustic cabin on the awesome lot only has one bathroom.  So you have a decision to make.  And you need a little vision.

Colin and Julie are great examples of such a vision.  A couple of years ago I had a home for sale in the Parker Creek area of Lake Martin. They loved the beautiful lot, loved the area and the cabin feel, but the house on that lot had only 2 bedrooms and one bath (and they have 4 kids).

Plus, one of those 2 bedrooms used to be a back stoop that was taken in and dubbed “The Honeymoon Suite” by the previous owners.

So they bought the location, and changed the house. And they didn’t add a lot of square footage: the only additional space comes from enlarging the existing screened porch.  They shifted some things around, and ended up with a cozy cabin that completely suits their needs.  See what you think in the above video.  I made it by mixing together some of the pictures I took from when the home was for sale, and then some pics I took after their renovation.

And here they are talking about the process of buying their cabin:

YouTube Preview Image

If you dream of owning that nostalgic Lake Martin cabin, let me help you with your search.  It costs a buyer nothing to have an real estate agent do the legwork.  Give me a call and let’s see what we can find!  334 221 5862

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Aquapalooza At Lake Martin 2011 – Setup Tips

Sea Ray and Russell Marine are once again bringing Aquapalooza to Lake Martin, Alabama, – on July 23, 2011.

Aquapalooza is a free, on the water concert that you can boat up, anchor, and go dance by the stage.  It is tons of fun, and, in my opinion, becoming the 4th big lake holiday behind Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.

Lake Martin has experienced two really big Aquapaloozas – the nationally promoted signature event in 2009 featuring Alan Jackson, and this pretty doggone big event in 2010 with John Anderson.

In 2011, the headliner is Sawyer Brown.  Here’s the full lineup:

Lake Martin Aquapalooza 2011 Lineup

Sawyer Brown
Rhett Atkins
Chase Rice
Derek Welsh and the Cold Hard Truth

Lake Martin Aquapalooza 2011 Schedule

11 AM – 7 PM on July 23, 2011.

Memo to all you fast timers – we’re on Central Time.

Click here for the Official Aquapalooza Site

Lake Martin Aquapalooza 2011 Setup Tips

The prior years of fun have given us all some valuable experience. I shot a quick video below to go over some tips for Aquapalooza on Lake Martin.
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Here are some more Lake Martin Aquapalooza 2011 tips:

  1. Have a sober driver and sober spotter – I say this in the video but it’s worth repeating. The driver will need someone at the front of the boat that is looking out for other boats, swimmers, kayakers, etc.
  2. Obey all Alabama laws – if you’re coming from out of state, study up.
  3. Idle speed only – west of Kowaliga Bridge is idle speed only until you get to Governor’s Island. The surest way to get pulled over by the AL Marine Police is to be above idle in this zone. Make even the smallest wake and they will hammer down on you.  Quite frankly, you deserve it.
  4. If you anchor up, use an anchor line – so many times I see folks throwing out their brand new mushroom anchor that is tied to ski rope.  Bad idea. It may be easy going down, but at the end of the day when you are hauling in 75 feet of it, and it’s slick, that thin ski rope will burn your hands.
  5. If you swim to the stage, use a PFD – it looks like a short swim, but trust me, you will get tired. Swim with a life vest on your person.
  6. Bring twice as many boat bumpers than you think you will need – even if you only use 2 to attach to your pier, you will need a bunch more when your friends (old and new) sidle up to you and anchor with you.
  7. Buy all your provisions locally – OK, so I’m a big believer in supporting the Lake Martin locals, yes.  But on the practical side, I can tell you that the local C Stores will have plenty of ice, snacks, and beverages.  It’s the same price as your hometown’s.  Unless you just like to load a cooler 2 days in advance, the smart move is to get it in theater.
  8. Take plenty of pics and video – you won’t believe how much fun it is to look at them later.  Local Lake Martin photographer Kenneth Boone usually has the best ones on his SmugMug account here.
  9. Tweet it out – if you’re on Lake Martin and hip to twitter, use hashtags of #lakemartin and #aquapalooza and @SeaRayBoat
  10. Check in on FourSquare – there’s a musical event set up on Foursquare – Aquapalooza on Lake Martin

Homes For Sale On Lake Martin Near Aquapalooza 2011

Do you have some time to kill, and maybe would like to cruise by some waterfront homes that are for sale near Lake Martin’s Aquapalooza site at Kowaliga Marina?

Click on the Request List link below:


You will be asked for your name and email, and then you will be emailed two lists we have compiled of waterfront homes for sale on Lake Martin right now. One list is east of Kowaliga Bridge, the other is west of it. This list is from the Lake Martin Area Realtors’ MLS, so it’s any brokerage’s listings, not just mine.  Also, don’t worry, we DO NOT SELL, GIVEAWAY, or otherwise distribute your info.

Have a fun and save Aquapalooza 2011 on Lake Martin!

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A Secret Weapon for Lake Martin FSBOs

Screen shot 2011-05-19 at 9.06.34 AM

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 industry90% 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:

Screen shot 2011-05-19 at 9.18.54 AM1.  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.

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