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Archive for the 'Seller Tips' Category

First, Focus on Photos

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Anytime is a great time for taking pictures around Lake Martin.

I can think of so many great occasions – times when you want to say “look at me, I’m still fishing and you’re at work,” hiking, hunting, or just plain ole hanging out.

If you are like me, you imagine these perfect photo opportunities and how good they would look on social media. Your subject looks dazzling. The picture is composed so well that Kenneth Boone would nod in artistic appreciation. Your “friends” on Facebook would seethe with envy, yet comment something like “so cute” or “time, please slow down!”

If you are like me, you also mess up just about 99 out of 100 shots you take. Everyone’s hair is combed; the dog is looking directly in the camera; the kids appear genuinely like a gunfighter in a spaghetti western. Ugh!

The same goes for real estate photography.

Sure, I will grant you, no one is likely to print out a picture of your home from the MLS and hang it on their fridge. It probably will not go viral like the “Back to School” shots of your kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Having really good pictures of a home that is for sale is still paramount in my business. I really like all of the media that we have these days – video, aerial footage and 3D walkthroughs – but that doesn’t mean we agents should forsake the humble photograph.

The most important picture is the first one listed in the MLS or online. That’s because we know from the numbers that 90% of homebuyers use the web to scout for homes. A great majority of people’s first move is to look online, not call an agent. That lead picture is the home’s mug shot.  It is the maker or breaker. If the first picture doesn’t look good, the ever-roving eye of the buyer will move on without a click.

That is why it’s really important to take the best pictures possible. Everybody knows this, but at the lake it means getting really nice shots of the lake side of the house. For a waterfront home, the lake side is the main side. Buyers come for the lake, so the lake is the most important thing.

It sounds pretty elementary, but time and time again, I see pictures on the MLS or on other sites where it’s obvious that the agent or owner did not take this into account. If I were a seller of a waterfront home on Lake Martin, I would insist on the best media possible – pictures, 3D tours, etc. The whole nine yards. I would make the main thing the main thing. Show me a great picture of the lakeside facade.

One of the steps in getting great pictures is having superb lighting. The best possible.  I am nowhere near a professional photographer, but at least I try to get the best light. To do that, I have to figure out the time of day that is going to be most flattering for the outside of the home. This differs for every home on Lake Martin because the lake side of the home might be facing in any direction.

If you have a west facing home and take early morning pictures, your results will be draped in shadow. You have to plan around that.

Also, at Lake Martin, many waterfront homes sit on wooded lots, so you have to take that into account. What sun angle would be best to avoid the trees casting shadows all over that outdoor kitchen? Not just morning or afternoon, but what exact time of day? If you were really doing a good job, you would want to take pictures of every side of the house.

Do you need to come back another day at a different time and take more pictures or video of different sides of the house to take advantage of differing light situations? Will it be cloudy the day you try?

How then, can you plan for shadows and the path of the sun? Does it require camping out and taking notes for an entire day?

Enter my not-so-secret-weapon-of-a-website:  suncalc.net.

I was tipped off to this website by my friend and architect Bryan Jones. Architects are another group of professionals that really pay attention to the sun.

This site will tell you the best time of day at any place around the world. Just plug in an address, and you can see the sun’s path at any given time on any given day of the year.

Where should you take pictures Easter morning at Grandma’s house? When’s the best time to photograph  your dock at the lake?  All of these questions can be answered at suncalc.net.

Incidentally, if you want to shoot Acapulco Rock in the full sun in the middle of August, try 11:05 a.m.

Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate  for Lake Magazine.

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Yet Another Zillow Fail At Lake Martin

lake martin, zillow, alabama, fails

Zillow doesn’t work here at Lake Martin for selling waterfront real estate. It is terribly inaccurate.

I get reminded of this every now and then when I hold my nose and wade into their site. Today I was looking at a Zillow advertisement for a waterfront property on the Dadeville side of Lake Martin. The Zestimate was crazy wrong. But….. that goes without saying. Aren’t we all used to that by now?

What caught my eye is some of the wacky supplemental info that Zillow tried to give for the home.  Dadeville’s zip is 36853, and Zillow thinks that the nearby zip codes of 36023 (East Tallassee) and 36256 (Daviston) are comparable to this property. Huh? Seriously? Here’s the reality- homes that are a half mile away from this one, but also in Dadeville, are NOT comparable, either. That’s because an off water home in Dadeville is not comparable to one that is waterfront on Lake Martin. The lot drives the value on Lake Martin.

Common sense, right?  Well, it seems the computer nerds at Zillow haven’t figured out how to program for that.

Also- check out the “nearby” neighborhoods. Hello? Only one of the five of those has any waterfront on Lake Martin. I have never heard of the other four.

If you want the most accurate, up to date information on real estate here at Lake Martin, see the Lake Martin MLS. And, please contact me here and allow me to help you.

Lake Martin Zillow FAQ:

Why is Zillow so wrong here at Lake Martin? Many reasons. Among them is that the counties around Lake Martin do not report sales data to Zillow. Neither does our MLS. The result is that Zillow’s database is bloated with homes and lots, many of which are out of date, inaccurate, have sub-standard media, and are poorly described. This leads to buyer frustration (“What? This home’s listing was cancelled two years ago?”) and seller anger (“What? It says my house has 0 bathrooms!”).

Then why is Zillow so popular nationally? Zillow is not in the real estate business. They are in the “sell ads to real estate agents” business. To be frank, they are good at scaring the poop out of real estate agents like me when they cold call us. The pitch is, “we are so awesome! Don’t you want to be The Featured Agent in your area?”  I respond, “My area? You mean Sessions? Or Buttston? or Tohopeka? No thanks. I will keep my money and you keep that title.”  Agents that do give money to Zillow soon find out that Zillow takes their money and uses it to advertise to – you guessed it – other agents, pressuring them to outbid the original agent for the (occasionally) coveted Featured Agent for the area.

Will I ever advertise on Zillow? Who knows. I never say never. Maybe one day Zillow will get its act together for Lake Martin real estate. Maybe their SEO will start to beat mine. Maybe they will actually become a useful tool for home sellers and buyers here. When that happens, I will hop right on board. Occasionally  I hear of a FSBO that uses the site with some success. Sometimes I will even recommend that FSBOs try Zillow out if they are so inclined, but right now it just doesn’t make sense for me. I am a full time, professional real estate agent with other, much more powerful marketing tools with which to help buyers and sellers here at Lake Martin.

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Local Customs Prevail

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The State of Alabama requires a certain amount of education before one can sit for the real estate licensing test. One huge part of the licensing education is a discussion of professional liability. The training includes a seemingly constant refrain that the potential agent should always quote sources and encourage consumers to consult an attorney. When I took those courses, I often wondered; if we are steadily telling people to consult an attorney, why do they need an agent?

The answer is a wise one: Let lawyers practice law, and let agents stick to real estate.

As such, I would encourage the reader to consult an attorney on all of the matters below, as I am just a real estate agent. Not a lawyer.

With that disclosure out of the way, I would like to talk about subjects that sometimes cause confusion when buyers and sellers negotiate a real estate contract. In Alabama, the law says that everything is negotiable. There are no standard terms or standard rules.

I will say that, from market to market, we do find that local customs prevail. I find it interesting that even in the same state there are varying degrees of “normal.” Agents from other areas, such as Montgomery, Auburn, Birmingham or even the beach, show property here at Lake Martin, and sometimes, even present offers. When that happens, there is usually a frank discussion between agents to identify the parts of a contract that might be different in each region. Even when both agents are from the lake, a clear understanding of all the contract terms is paramount. I will attempt to touch on a few parts of the sale that might possibly be confusing.

One important part of a real estate transaction is figuring out when the buyer actually takes possession of the real estate purchased. In the case of a lot purchase, it is really no big deal. Usually, the seller has little or no property on site; therefore, there is nothing to move. But what about a home purchase?

In this situation, buyers and sellers can agree to just about anything. Two possibilities are: 1) buyer takes possession at closing, or 2) buyer takes possession, say, two days after closing. I have seen cases where the seller doesn’t move out, but instead rents back from the buyer for a month.

Admittedly, around Lake Martin, closings like that are pretty rare. That is understandable, as most buyers use the properties as vacation homes and are looking forward to vacating as soon as possible. In many a closing, the buyers drive up to the closing attorney’s office in a U-Haul, loaded to the gills and ready to move and hit the water for some fun.

Sometimes, sellers might want to wait and not give possession until after the actual closing. They might think, why should I move all of my stuff out before I am absolutely sure that I will get my money? I can see their logic, but the same could be said by the buyer. Why should I give them my money when they haven’t even started moving out yet?

The point is this: Be sure to read the contract and negotiate based on your preferences; however, I would guess that 95 % of the time, possession is given at closing here at Lake Martin. Maybe this gets back to the high second home rate in the area. Maybe it is because, many times, furniture is involved, and that cuts down the burden of moving.

Speaking of furniture, that’s another area of the contract that sometimes causes confusion. I get a lot of buyers that ask a common question when walking through homes, “Is the furniture included?”

Again, it pays to be really specific. As a buyer, if you can’t imagine finding a kitchen table more perfect for your family, go ahead and write it in the contract. If you are the seller, and you know that no matter what, there is no way you can part with your MeMaw’s antique rocker, it is wise to specify it as excluded in the contract.

Exclusions can work on the buyer side, too. I have had a few buyers say, “they better be sure to get that junk in the yard out of here,” and we have had to write it in as an exclusion.

One last word on furniture and any other personal property: Consult your lender on the wording here. Some underwriters have major objections to seeing anything, even refrigerators, included in the real estate contract. Other loan underwriters don’t mind, as long as you state that they are adding no value to the real estate purchase. Check before you write it up.

Surveys are another example of possible confusion. I have had agents tell me there is a law in the State of Alabama that says all sellers must provide a survey. That is incorrect. In fact, most brokers’ contracts are written in such a way that you have to check a blank to stipulate who will pay for a survey, buyer or seller. Again, consult an attorney to be sure you understand the contract.

Did you clean up after yourself?

If you are a seller in the home transaction, is there a clause in the contract that addresses the cleanliness of the home? If you are the buyer, is this a high priority? If so, make sure you have some language in the contract that covers it. Also, maybe you had better schedule a walk through before closing, so you can make sure the contract was followed. There are many definitions of “clean,” so in my opinion, it is difficult to address this in writing.

When I am advising sellers on this subject, I ask them to go overboard. I have never seen a buyer complain that a house is too clean. The main point here is that nothing is standard. Sellers are not required to dust the first bunny. Put it in writing.

Those are just a few areas of the real estate sale that might cause potential misunderstandings. To find out more, talk to your real estate agent, and yes, consult an attorney.

Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine.

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Home For Sale in Trillium – Lake Martin

570 Wake Robin View of Outdoor Living Area

Check out this cool, outdoor living area in my newest listing – a waterfront home for sale at 570 Wake Robin, Eclectic – Lake Martin!

Built right on the beach area of this home in Trillium, the rustic outdoor area is like having another living room to enjoy year round.  The beautiful stone fireplace makes a great gathering spot for family and friends.

Entertain and relax here – watch the game on TV, enjoy a cold beverage from the built in cooler or just boat watch and enjoy the sunsets – your choice, your retreat.  Enjoy.

For more info on 570 Wake Robin CLICK HERE.

570 Wake Robin Google Map

Do you have a waterfront property you are considering selling on Lake Martin?

Please let me talk to you about how I can help you.  We put the best of today’s useful technology to work for you – reaching buyers in a multitude of ways: the web, social media, email, and good ol’ word of mouth.

Contact me HERE or call me directly at the number at the top of this page.

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It Takes a Village

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Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine.

It truly takes a village of people to help buyers purchase a home here at Lake Martin.

Sure, you might be tempted to think that the only people involved are real estate agents and lenders.  While they are a great idea, agents and lenders are not necessary.  I will say that, according to the National Association of Realtors, 87 percent of buyers used Realtors last year to help them in their purchases.  Since I am an agent, this recommendation won’t surprise you, but I do think a great agent more than pays for himself or herself.  Choose one wisely.

Your agent should also be able to help you find additional people to assist in your purchase.  An effective agent should have the contact information of the below folks ready at a moment’s notice.

A first person you might need is a good general contractor or GC.  A GC’s advice can give you the data you need to be confident about your decision to negotiate with the seller and get a written contract.  You may need them to walk through the home on which you have selected to make an offer if there are big repair items, but please do not drag the GC around to every single home you view.  You want them to actually return your call when it really counts.

One of the first things to do after you have a written contract is to think about the land on which the home sits.  Before you even get to the house, it is a good idea to hire a surveyor.

When you consider that most of the value of a waterfront home is in the dirt, it’s a good idea to get data on that dirt.  A surveyor can help.  Some buyers elect to go pretty light here and only ask the surveyor to “mark the corners.”  This means simply finding each point of the property line and putting up some sort of marker.

Another option, albeit more expensive, is to get a complete survey of the property and its improvements.  At the end of this operation, you would be handed (or emailed) a survey that shows the home, the dock, the driveway and just about anything else that is on the lot.  A drawing like this can be extremely useful for future expansions but also could be helpful in case your neighbors get – shall we say – liberal with the placement of their yard art.

Most buyers are attuned to the fact that a home inspector is a critical part of the process. Make sure the one you hire after you are under contract is certified.

My personal theory on home negotiation is not to use the inspector as a way to nickel and dime the seller into having to repair every little scratch on the home; remember, most of the time the value of a Lake Martin home is in the lot anyway.  It’s just my opinion, but even though I like an inspector to point out every blemish, I am just looking for the big things.  I am mainly concerned about the expensive systems or potential repairs.  I think buyers should approach inspections with the mindset of priority, ranking the repairs according to their preferences.

Contrastingly, some aggressive buyers in our current seller’s market are forgoing a home inspection.  The mindset of these buyers is that they want to make their offers more attractive to the sellers, thus beating out any potential competing offers, since the purchase is not subject to an inspection.  If you choose that route, be careful, and be sure you understand all the risks.

A septic inspector is also a very important person, and this inspection also should be set up after the contract is signed.  A septic inspector is needed because of two factors: 1) most home inspectors will not include the septic system in the scope of the home inspection; and 2) almost every single home on Lake Martin is on a septic system.

Many of the septic tanks were built in a time when there was no building code in effect.  In fact, the only time the word ‘code’ came up back then was to describe the Lake’s temperature in January.  Septic inspections are not a must for every purchase, but a buyer would be wise to at least consider it.

Next comes a termite inspector, who is usually paid by the seller, but that’s negotiable.  This is a totally separate inspection, done by a pest control professional.

Usually a termite inspector issues a Wood Infestation Report, or a WIR.  A WIR will tell you if, on the particular day and time inspected, the home had active or previous infestations of termites, powder post beetles and/or wood-decaying fungi.

Many people I talk to think this is a bond that guarantees against the cost of future infestation. It is not the same thing.  If you want a termite bond, negotiate for it.  A WIR is only a snapshot of that day.

Also, unless the house is brand new, I would expect previous infestation.  Most waterfront homes on Lake Martin are older and have battled the humidity of the South.  This usually yields some sort of previous infestation.  Don’t let this freak you out unless the damage is so great that your home inspector is concerned.

An active infestation, however, is a showstopper.  You had better get those nasties out of there before you buy the house.

A dock person is another lake-specific professional that might not translate to your hometown.  Every Lake Martin home is different, but this could potentially be an expensive repair or an important part of a planned renovation.

If the home you like has a dock that only needs a few top boards replaced, then it is no problem. Your solution could be a carpenter if the job is that light; however, if the dock is about to fall in, or if illegal foam has been used on the floating dock, you need to get the advice of a contractor that specializes in dock construction.  A regular home inspection does not usually cover the dock or seawall; so don’t rely on it here.  Get a specialist to review the situation.

Similarly, you might need to get a dock contractor’s advice if you plan a big expansion.  What if your planned expansion would run afoul of dock regulations?  Is that a deal breaker for you? Then you had better include that in your negotiations with the seller.

Selecting a good attorney is often the last choice made in the purchase process, but that does not mean it is an unimportant one.

First of all, pick someone that is a good explainer.  I have been selling real estate on Lake Martin for more than 10 years, and I still learn something new at each closing.  When you have questions about something as important and expensive as a home purchase, it helps to have a good teacher on your side instead of a person that just spouts legal jargon.

Another critical point in selecting an attorney is his or her local title search expertise.  Just because your cousin Vinny is awesome at health care law in New Jersey doesn’t mean he is good at searching title at Lake Martin.  Our lake counties are rural areas (thank the Lord), and the title chain often includes some cornbread and collards stains.  The local title agents know the twists and turns of the local courthouses.  Pick a good one and trust the one you pick, but get the title insurance anyway because no one is perfect.

I may have left a few villagers out, but hopefully, I have named most of them.

 

 

 

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Do Restrictions Constrict at Lake Martin?

 

lake martin alabama deed restrictions covenants
Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine. I also published it on my column on al.com – where I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for AL.com.

Bob and Susie Q. Buyer have found a way to buy a Lake Martin waterfront home that will pay for itself!

It’s easy money, they think.

They have done their due diligence (i.e. watch HGTV) and are ready to make their move. They have found the perfect little Lake Martin waterfront cabin. It’s on a beautiful lot with 500 feet of waterfront. When they noticed that house is crammed over to one side of the lot, it gave Bob and Susie Q. their idea. They buy the home, cut the lot in half, sell the lot, and pay for their entire purchase.

They can’t miss, right?

I can think of two reasons they will.

Firstly, they might need to consider that HGTV is carried on the cable networks of Charter, Com-Link Inc. and Dish here at little ‘ole Lake Martin. In other words, we know how to flip (and flop) here, too. If a deal is that much of a layup, it will likely be scooped up by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand way before it comes on their radar up there in the big city.

Secondly, the biggest reason is that the lot is restricted. Well, I should say that there is a 98% chance it is restricted and therefore they cannot split the lot. The seller is selling the lot subject to the same deed restrictions which they bought, and at Lake Martin, that means you can’t split it, among other things.

Yes, there are some needles in the haystack here and there. But, the last time I looked for a buyer, I reviewed the 100 or so waterfront lots for sale on the lake and only found two or three that were truly unrestricted.

If you are unfamiliar with deed restrictions, think about the neighborhood where you live just outside of Gotham. Most neighborhoods have their own set of rules about what kind of home you can build. They might also have rules that state the minimum size a home can be, how close it can be placed to the lot lines, the materials used, or any number of things.

Still other neighborhoods have “Architectural Review Boards” which is a committee of residents tasked with making sure all new construction fits the Homeowner Association’s guidelines.  These are all “deed restrictions” because they are part of the deed when you bought your house.

I hear from buyers all the time that let me know that they want a waterfront lot that is, in their words, “unrestricted.” When they mention that, I always ask them if they plan to split the lot or build two homes on a lot. Usually, they say no. Most of the time buyers think unrestricted refers to controls like architectural review committees.

They don’t want anyone telling them what color paint to use on their deck.

This also comes up when people want to be able to park their RV on the lot for a few years before they build their home. Or, they even might want to park the RV during the precious few months of home construction. Most formal neighborhoods and county road plats at Lake Martin have restrictions against this.

Other buyers might like to put a manufactured home on the lot, and keep it like that as long as possible. Again, it’s equally difficult to find a lot that would allow this.

Does that mean all restrictions are bad? If your neighbor split his lot into 30 parts and plans to sell them all to the highest bidders, would you be excited about it?

The point here is that each lot buyer must not go around making assumptions. Don’t assume that all restrictions are “bad,” or that any restrictions are “good.” One must behold any deed restrictions with one’s own eye and decide beauty.

How does one do that?

You verify before you buy.

After that, it’s too late. Therefore, a buyer with concerns about when can be done on the lot should include a contingency in the real estate contract to say something like “this offer is subject to buyer’s favorable review of all deed restrictions” or something like that. The buyer should consult an attorney to make absolutely sure.

I am not a lawyer, but experience here at Lake Martin has pretty much taught me to never assume.  But, if I had to guess, I would say that Bob and Susie Q. Buyer won’t be able to split that lot.

I will take a 98% chance any day of the week!

 

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The Next Big Thing In Real Estate Tech

The “Next Big Thing” in real estate technology is 3D Tours By Matterport. It is a new, breakthrough tool that I think will become indispensable in helping Lake Martin home buyers and sellers.

I know you might be thinking, “Big deal, John. Another cheesy, flashy item that will mesmerize realtors like a cat plays with a ball of yarn: vapidly and without understanding.”

I will let the pudding give the proof on this subject. Please click on the 3D tour above for my awesome home that went under contract recently at 236 Delilah Lane. Matterport has made a huge leap in presentation by marrying advances in the 3D camera with software that smooths it out. It looks wonderful and is the closest I have seen to actually walking through a home.

If you are reading this on a smart phone or tablet, so much the better. It looks even nicer on handhelds because you are able to touch the screen. Much more intuitive.

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Today, successful technology in any field shares two traits: simplicity and helpfulness. In other words, pretty is as pretty does. The Matterport tours do this in spades. You don’t need a PhD to use it, and the tours look really nice and actually are helpful.

For Lake Martin home sellers, Matterport Tours give a marketing edge on par with full motion video tours. And like full motion tours, they represent a quantum leap into another level of presentation. What seller would not want this? Show me the Lake Martin homeowner that would tell an agent, “Nah, just go halfway on the marketing. Let’s mail this one in.”

For buyers looking for Lake Martin waterfront homes, the benefit is as obvious. Today’s real estate buyer wants more. More homes to view, and more details about the homes they like. I have not talked to a single buyer that has said, “no thanks, I don’t want to use that 3D tour.” They appreciate being able to walk through a home and really get a sense of the floor plan – and not get dizzy in the process by staring at some photo stitched, poor excuse for a “Virtual Tour.”

It Has Already Sold A Lake Martin Home.

I have been slowly rolling out these 3D tours on all of my listings. I wanted to take them one at a time to make sure I understand the process and how best to serve my clients and customers. Despite its infancy in my marketing quiver, I have already sold a home directly because of the 3D tour. I was on one side of Lake Martin showing a couple one home and they asked me if anything else was available. Because I had a 3D tour up and ready on one of my listings, they were able to view it quickly and confirm that they wanted to tour it physically. I wrote up an offer after their trip!

Lake Martin 3D Home Tours FAQ

How can I get a 3D Tour for my Lake Martin home? I can give you a free Comparable Market analysis for your lake home. Just contact me through this form or call me at the number at the top of the screen. I can come by your lake home and let you know what I think its likely sales point will be, and how I would use 3D tours to help sell it.

What do 3D tours cost? – Nothing. Right now, I am paying for the 3D tours’ filming and hosting for as long as you list your Lake Martin home with me. Who knows, maybe one day I will have to go with an a la carte situation, but right now your 3D Tour is part of the many other marketing efforts I perform on behalf of all of my Lake Martin waterfront homes.

Are you giving up on videos or photos? No. Photos will still be a big part of real estate marketing, mainly because MLSs are set up with them as a prime cog. And they do a great job in pointing out prime angles or features. Videos- they are here to stay as well.  I do think Matterport 3D tours are better at giving a person a walk through feel, but videos are better at hitting key features and mixing in things like location shots. Plus, until Matterport figures out how to put a 3D camera on a quadcopter, “aerial camera” shots will still be a huge part of my marketing here at Lake Martin Voice Realty. In other words, gone are the days of “either / or” marketing. Today’s seller deserves the very best of everything, and buyers want all the information we can throw at them.

Do I need special googles or glasses to view the tours? No. Just start clicking and turning. If you’re on a laptop or desktop, use your arrow buttons. If on a smart phone or pad, just touch the screen!

3d glassesWill 3D Tours replace Open Houses? I think the internet replaced open houses a decade ago. Bringing the listing to life with a 3D tour lets you tour from anywhere, anytime.  It is like attending an always open – open house (minus the crowd and cookies).

The difference between 3D tours and virtual tours? Virtual tours allow you to do a 360° pan from a single point in the room but 3D tours let you move around in the room and from room to room.

 

As a real estate agent I want to have the latest real estate marketing technology and Matterport is a company that offers this great new tool. Interested in seeing the floor plan? Matterport offers a complete layout of the house and offers homebuyers the ability to move thru the property and see it from every angle.

May I help you sell your Lake Martin waterfront property? Please call or text me at the number at the top of the page or contact me through this form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Can’t See This Foreclosure at Lake Martin

lake martin foreclosure 2016There are not many waterfront foreclosures right now in the Lake Martin market. I haven’t run the numbers yet, but my feeling is that they peaked in 2009 or so. However, my Lake Martin Foreclosure list is still extremely popular with my readers and my real estate clients. I get a fair amount of folks who are only curious, but I also connect with people that end up buying later. Since I try and followup with everyone, I spend a decent amount of time explaining that buying a foreclosed home, on the water, at Lake Martin these days is a long shot. (Yes, there are plenty of good deals that are not foreclosures).

When I was setting up some waterfront homes to see tomorrow, I ran across a home on the MLS‘s Hot Sheet – I was initially interested because the house looked nice from the outside and it looked to be on a flat lot with a good view of Lake Martin. It was a foreclosure to boot- despite my generalities above.

I called the agent to show it, and he said, “you can’t show that one. I haven’t even been inside of it.”

Huh?

Apparently there are people still in it and they are objecting to the sale. Agents can’t show it. Buyers can’t walk through it. You can enter a bid online, cash only, please sir.

OK.

If this one sells it will be one for the record books, sportsfans.

 

 

Can I help you find your dream Lake Martin home or lot? Contact me here or call me at the number at the top of the page.

Please download by FREE LAKE MARTIN VOICE APP before you call, or I will be so sad….

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2015 is Lake Martin’s Best Year Ever!

Lake Martin had its best year ever for waterfront real estate sales in 2015.  Sales were better in 2015 than in the big real estate days of 2005. Please take a look at this market report for the Lake Martin waterfront real estate market. I shot this video in January with preliminary numbers, but they held true:

The Lake Martin real estate market report for 2015 reflects record numbers of waterfront homes sold and waterfront lots sold.2015 home sales

As you can see in the above chart waterfront home sales in the Lake Martin area were 24% ahead of the previous high in 2014 – with 360 sales in 2015.

December 2015 lot sales chart

And looking at the chart above waterfront lot sales were 15% ahead of 2014 – with 85 sales in 2015.

Keep in mind, these numbers are compiled from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service*.

The bottom line for Lake Martin waterfront real estate sales in 2015:

The bottom line is that we had a fantastic year here at Lake Martin. If you have been reading this blog or my column on AL.com, you know that all of 2015 has been outstanding. It really was just a matter of how great it was going to be.

Any time that any real estate market beats the prior year in number of sold units, that’s a great year. We have been doing this in the waterfront segment of Lake Martin since 2008, with no signs of slowing down.

What, if any, were the disappointments in the Lake Martin real estate market in 2015?

I had hoped for the “Triple Crown” – that is, 1.) Top year number of waterfront homes sold, 2.) top year of number of waterfront lots sold, and 3.) increase in waterfront home prices. While we definitely had the top number of waterfront homes sold on Lake Martin, and also an increase in pricing, we did not have the top year in number of lot sales. It’ snot like we had a bad year in lot sales. 85 sales is nothing to sneeze at, but it did not best the previous record of in 2005.

What about the future? Won’t the election hurt sales at Lake Martin? Or China’s economic slowdown? Or [insert your favorite doom and gloom item here]?

I think the Lake Martin waterfront real estate market is set up for another wonderful year in 2016. I don’t pay attention to macro-economic trends and I darn sure don’t listen to the so-called NAR economists. I watch the local numbers. As long as we are beating the prior year, I am not calling an end to this bull market. Beating the same month from the prior year is per se an increasing market.

For example, as great as 2015 was here at Lake Martin, please note that 9 waterfront homes were sold in January of 2015. Compare that with 12 sold in January 2016. As a market, we have already sold as many waterfront homes in the first 17 days of February 2016 than we did in the entire month of February 2015.

In other words, 2015 was hot, but 2016 is starting hotter!!

When it slows down, trust me, I will be the first one to call it. I am not afraid to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But until then, don’t worry about the price of tea in China because it apparently is not affecting Lake Martin real estate.

If you have any questions, please contact John Coley with Lake Martin Voice Realty at 334 221 5862 or emailing directly at john (at) lakemartinvoice (dot) com.

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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 RealtorsMultiple 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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Lake Martin Septic Tank Construction

A very high percentage of waterfront homes on Lake Martin are on a septic system.

As a full time real estate agent at Lake Martin, I have learned that the septic system is one of the most important things to consider when buying a home here.

While I am not a professional in this field, I thought I would attempt to summarize the process of building and installing a new or repairing an old septic system, septic tank, or septic field line around Lake Martin.

  1. Get an engineer to design a system – The engineer must make sure you know where all of the lot lines are, and the proper setbacks from those lines. They also must perform a percolation test to understand your lot’s absorption rate. Once the system is designed I am pretty sure the County Health department must approve it on paper before you can proceed.
  2. Get a septic installer to quote the cost of the system – As with any construction project, if you are installing a septic system on Lake Martin it’s always a good idea to get an estimate from a few different reputable area contractors.
  3. Install the system – The good contractors are usually very busy, so it might take a month for you to get one out to your house.
  4. The County reinspects – After installation, the County Health Department comes out and reinspects the system to make sure you have built it according to design and code.

If you need references for Lake Martin area engineers, surveyors, and septic installers, I will be glad to provide them. Every case is different so please take my advice and be sure to get quotes specific to your home and lot. Don’t just rely on a quote your neighbor or cousin received three years ago. Get specific.

At this writing, new septic system and septic lines are being installed at one of my listings at 236 Delilah Lane. I took the chance to shoot the above video to illustrate the process.

The septic guys around Lake Martin tell me that about 90% of the systems installed are pumped systems. This means the waste will be pumped from the septic tank to the septic field lines, which are basically a system of PVC pipes that allow the water to filter down into the ground. You can’t have a lot of vegetation near the field lines, because you don’t want roots to clog up your system. You will see in the video how they are clearing out some of the trees near where the field lines will go.

To trace the system as a whole, the waste is sent from your house to the septic tank. If the tank is uphill from your house, it goes to a pump chamber, then to your main tank. From there, if the field lines are uphill also (and they probably will be), it hits another pump chamber and then it goes to the field lines where it settles out into the soil.

If you have a question about septic tanks, please do not call me!!! I am just a real estate agent. If you have an issues or questions, you should consult with an engineer who designs septic systems.

If you have any questions about waterfront real estate on Lake Martin, you can contact me by calling me at the number at the top of the page or feel free email me! 

For other important things to consider when buying or building a home, CLICK HERE.

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