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Archive for the 'Seller Tips' Category

6 Questions To Ask At An Auction On Lake Martin

Lake Martin Auction property home25 waterfront condos are being auctioned at Harbor Pointe in Stillwaters on July 7th.  Five of those will be absolute.  This auction follows on the heels of one earlier this spring.  Is this a sign of the times on Lake Martin?  Does this signal an end to the seller’s market? Are auctions a way to get a good deal on Lake Martin property?

Like any real estate transaction, every auction is uniqueThe person that does the homework will either come out of it with a fair price or avoid paying too much.

What questions should buyers ask before attending an auction at Lake Martin?

1.  Is this an absolute auction?  Always clarify this, but usually an absolute auction means that they must sell on that day, regardless of price.  Even if someone bids $1 for a Lake Martin condo, they must sell.  If it is not absolute, then ask what the reserve price is.  I’m sure they won’t tell you that, but no harm in asking.
2.  How many / which parcels are absolute? The Harbor Pointe auction will have 5 out of 25 absolute.  But,  if you see an ad for a different auction that says “40 condos for sale, absolute auction” maybe only 2 will be absolute. You want to be clear as to which are absolute and you want to make sure that you’re under the tent when they’re selling the absolute ones.
3.  Have these properties been for sale before?  The auction company may or may not know the answer, or they may or may not be obliged to tell you.  Here’s where your Lake martin real estate property auctionresearch comes in the picture.  How well do you know the Lake Martin market?  Or Stillwaters? Or Harbor Pointe? If the lake properties have been for sale recently, the listing prices can give you an idea of the seller’s expectations.
4.  What do you have to do to be a qualified bidder?  Usually you can give them a check for like $5,000 or something or a letter from the bank, usually it is better to set this up ahead of time, the week before the auction.
5.  What are the fees to the buyer?  Usually the buyer pays a fee above and on top of the bid amount  – this could be 5% to 10% – to cover the cost of the auction and the auctioneer fees.  This is sometimes a big part of their pitch to sellers.  They say, why pay realtor fees of 6% when you can make the buyer pay 10%?  Sellers think they are saving money but it all comes down to what is net to them anyway, and buyers figure that in when they bid and reduce their top number by, say, 10%.  Whatever.
6.  Will you send me the rules of the auction ahead of time? I ask for those.  I read everything.  Every auction is a bit different.  Maybe I will spot something that I didn’t think to ask about originally.
Sometimes I have Lake Martin buyers ask me about things like this, where I am neither the listing agent nor involved in any way. If they are interested, I can call the auction company for the buyer and register them as a potential bidder.  The auction company usually pays an extremely small “referral fee” to realtors like me when they register a buyer that is a high bidder.  This doesn’t cost the buyer a penny more because the buyer’s fee will be the same whether I call them or the buyer calls them directly.  But if I do call, I can ask them all of the above questions and give my analysis.
Lake Martin home auctionIn the case of the Harbor Pointe auction, I would run a buyer a report of all of the sales in Harbor Pointe in the last 2 years, and give a bidder an idea of what the exact market price should be on a condo there.  This gives you a pretty precise point to bid up to without getting hurt too bad.  Again, it won’t cost a dime more, and could arm you with a lot of information for the auction.  If my registered buyer is not a high bidder, they don’t owe me a penny.
I will definitely be watching the auction at Harbor Pointe to see what happens. (Thanks, Kirk, for the idea for this post!)

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Why I Give Away The Milk For Free

Lake Martin real estate changesThe Lake Martin Real estate market, like every other one in the country, has changed irreversibly. 

When my father Walter started in the business in 1973, the process was pretty much the same as when my grandfather Temple founded Coley Real Estate in 1953.  If you were a seller in the Lake Martin Area, and wanted to know what your home or lot was worth, you had to call an agent.  In 1953, in what is now the Lake Martin Area, there were two agents.  In 1973 I think there were three.  The process was – you called an agent, made an appointment, and physically came into the office.  Then you two would discuss your home.  He would tell you what home sales trends were.  There was no Lake Martin Multiple Listings Service.  No Lake Martin Homes Magazine.  Certainly no Internet.  You were totally dependent on the keepers of the information, the real estate agent.

Now, obviously, it is all different.  A Realtor’s office is no longer a thickly lake martin real estate agents guardwalled, heavily guarded fortress of information.  The web has enabled (almost) perfect information about sales prices and trends.  The MLS (Multiple Listings Service) web site is open to the public and easy to search.

So why do you still need a realtor now?  Especially if you’re a seller – you don’t need an agent if Lake Martin is still such a seller’s market, right? 

Wrong- the value of a great agent lies not so much in the mere possession of the data (MLS #s), but in how you interpret it, and what you do with it.   

It’s kind of like stock quotes.  Closing sale prices of stocks and mutual funds are free and public information.  When you pay a financial counselor to help you with your retirement savings, you are paying them to give you advice on how to interpret the data.  The value isn’t the knowledge of what XYZ Company’s stock closed for on a given day.  The value lies in knowing when and for how much to sell or buy and why.  Could you imagine picking a financial counselor based solely on the fact that he has access to stock quotes?  No, because a small mistake in interpretation can cost you lots of money.

The value of a great realtor lies not so much in telling you what the lake home on 123 Easy Street sold for, but how that relates to your lake home, or the waterfront lot / home that you want to buy.  Next, a great realtor executes a marketing plan to go out and sell your property instead of merely sticking a sign in the yard.

So, when looking for a realtor to help you value your Lake Martin property, don’t pick one that guards information like the sacred scrolls.  Pick one that is focused on you, that asks you questions about your want and your needs.  The more questions a realtor asks you, the better chance that he can get a feel of how to best serve you.

I work extremely hard to help people get what they want, but I don’t work for free.  I give away my advice and information on Lake Martin real estate because I want my clients to be a part of the sales process, not feel like I am posing as the wizard behind the curtain.  After I give them the information for free, then I can focus on marketing their home uniquely or finding them the home that matches their exact tastes. 

Lake Martin Sellers – Don’t Pick This Realtor

Lake Martin real estate agentsLet’s say you own waterfront property on Lake Martin, and want to sell it.  Let’s also say that you have the good sense to hire a Realtor to help you list and sell it.  What are your choices?  Whom should you pick?

Selecting an average agent instead of a great one could end up costing you major dollars.  You need to make sure to partner with one that fits you best.

Here are 5 Realtors that Lake Martin sellers should not pick:

1.  Don’t pick The Part Timer.  Would you let a part time financial guy manage your retirement account?  Okay then.  It may be easy to be average, but being great at selling real estate is tough work (even on Lake Martin).  It is more than a 40 hour a week job to do things like talk to buyers, show properties, scout new listings, scour FSBOs, research property sales, and stay educated on licensing, contracts, housing laws, etc.  The Part Timer has other priorities.  You deserve better.

2.  Don’t pick The Suck Up.  Given the high value of Lake Martin real estate, a small mistake in selling your property can cost you thousands.  Do you want your listing agent to tell you what they think you want to hear, or to tell you the truth?  The Suck Up:  “Sure, Mrs. Seller, I think it’s a great idea to have a palm reader on site to give mystical advice to buyers when they visit!”  Puh-leez.

3.  Don’t pick The Talker.  Like any successful partnership, sellers and their Lake martin realtorlisting agents must have great communication.  Good communicators listen more than they talk.  They ask a lot of questions, and then listen some more.  Some agents think that everyone loves to hear them spout off about themselves.  I happen to think that sellers want to hear about their own home, their own lot, and how their own problems will be solved.

4.  Don’t pick The High Bidder.  Most sellers only talk to one agent about listing Lake Martin home Sellerstheir home.  Be different.  Talk to several, and pick the one that fits you best.  Ask each Realtor to tell you what your property will bring on the market.  Wise sellers don’t always go with the one who gives the highest number.  Go with the one that backs up his / her number with solid, well thought out research.  Like #2 above, The High Bidder will tell you what he/she thinks you want to hear – a possibly unattainable high price.  After your home languishes unsold for months, The High Bidder might try and talk you down to a sensible number.

5.  Don’t pick The Lowballer.  Real Estate commissions are totally negotiable, no matter what conspiracy theorists tell you.  When you hire a Realtor to sell your Lake Martin home, you two can agree to a commission of a penny or 300% of the sales price, whatever.  The Lowballer will tell you he will charge you something less than 6% and give you the same service.  Hey – maybe it will work out fine.  But I am here to tell you that it takes money to properly sell a Lake Martin listing.  Do you want someone who will simply stick a sign on the dock and hope someone else will sell it?  During the listing interview, quiz The Lowballer on the marketing plan.  Ask follow up questions.  It’s the only way to separate the lazy or the cocky from those Realtors with A Real Plan.

Curious about what your Lake Martin property be worth, and how I would tailor a plan to sell it?  Holler at me.

Lake Martin Named Top Real Estate Market In AL

Lake martin real estate winnerHere we go again – Lake Martin was described as the top real estate market in the entire state of Alabama

The Central Alabama Business Journal – a sister publication of the Montgomery Advertiser recently interviewed J. Danny Cooper, the Executive Vice President of the Alabama Association of Realtors.  The article covered various topics from the condition of Alabama’s real estate market overall to the performance of specific areas.  Cooper singled out Lake Martin as the top market in the state.  In his words, “Lake Martin has surpassed any other market in the state in terms of appreciation and home value.”

I know what you’re thinking – this is just another propaganda puff piece from aLake Martin Cupcake rah-rah realtors’ rep.  I might be inclined to agree, on some points.  Anybody can have an opinion on what is a “good” or “bad” market.  What sets apart Cooper’s statement? It’s a fact, not an opinion.  The numbers have been crunched – and Lake Martin came out on top.

Not that the rest of Alabama is so much chopped liver.  This state is blessed with many great second home or vacation home markets – Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Lake Eufaula, Lake Guntersville, Weiss Lake, Lake Logan – Martin, just to name a few.  Maybe you and I think none of them are better than Lake Martin.  Maybe someone else thinks that another lake or beach is prettier, or cooler, or whatever.  Everybody’s entitled to an opinion.  But here’s a fact – recently, none of them have appreciated in value like Lake Martin.

Even if you own a home or lot on Lake Martin and never intend to sell it, isn’t it nice to know – that if you did – it is in the top market in the state?  Wonder what it’s worth?  Drop me a line, I’ll run you a Comparable Market Analysis, no strings attached. 

And if you don’t own any property on Lake Martin yet?  I can help you with that, too.

 

Related Articles:
Lake Martin A Top 12 US Vacation Home Market

 

Lake Martin Home Prices Not Affected By Sales Drop?

Lake Martin Alabama real estate Bull and bear argueRest easy.  Alabama home sales have dropped, but not on Lake Martin.  Or should you be alarmed that the average sales price of a home in Lake Martin plummeted 15% in one month?  Which is it?

On March 12, 2007, Patrick McCreless wrote an article in the Alex City Outlook entitled, “Home sales still strong on Lake Martin.”  The information he quoted was from the Alabama Real Estate Research and Education Center, which (I assume) got its data from our Lake Martin Area Multiple Listings Service.  While I do not disagree with any of the data in the article, I do think it presents an interesting look at analyzing statistics of our market.

Two main stats stuck out to me:

1.     Statewide, Alabama saw the number of homes sold drop 20.4% from December 06 to January 07.  The Lake Martin Area increased its number sold to 29 from 25 in December, for a gain of 16%.  Hence the analysis that we were unaffected by the State’s slump.  I agree.

2.     At the end of the article, it sneaks in that the Lake Martin Area’s average home sales price dropped in January to $181,310 from $213,716 in December.  Again, agreed.  But – couldn’t the headline easily have been “Lake Martin Home Prices Drop 15% in One Month?”

This same article could be used both by doomsdayers to prove evidence of a dreaded “bubble” in our market and by bullish folk saying that the market is still hot.  The seeming contradiction in interpreting the data is a classic case of trying to draw too many conclusions from too small a sample.  Any professor of Statistics will tell you that the smaller the sample, the greater margin of error.  In other words, if you poll the five people you play poker with on the question of who will be the next President, the chances of them being wrong are a lot bigger than if you selected five million registered voters, randomly distributed across geographic, economic, and political lines.

The point is – be careful when you try to interpret the data of a market like Lake Martin.  We have a broad mixture of Lake Martin Real estate Bulls and bears coexisttypes of properties – on / off the water, single / multi family, modern / rural, etc. – that are spread across a relatively small number of listings.  One big sale here or there can really affect the numbers, so watch out.  Try to gather as much information as you can.  Talk to many people in the business.  Are you confused about what your property is worth, or what you should pay for a place on the Lake?  I am always willing to give my honest two cents and would be glad to help! The only way I know to do it to tell it like I see it.  See the “comments” section on this post for my email to Patrick McCreless where I provide an opinion on the contradictory stats.

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