Lake Martin Voice Realty
Archive for the 'Seller Tips' Category
Many Lake Martin Voice readers may be interested in the results of the auction of the home at 1355 Sturdivant Rd Jacksons Gap, AL 36861. It is a waterfront home. According to the auctioneer’s website, the home has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and was built in 1982.
The waterfront home was auctioned off, along with a bunch of other homes (not necessarily in the Lake Martin area), on 9-08-08 in Birmingham. I didn’t go, but intrepid reporter on the scene, slownez, of Lake Martin forum fame, did.
Here is slow’s report, I thought that it makes for an interesting read of how these multi home auctions go:
“AL State House & Land Foreclosure Auction. Birmingham, AL 9/8/2008.
Registration started at 5pm at the Sheraton downtown. There were about 100 people there right at 5pm to sign in. Some had pre-registered and they had lines to register as well as to identify yourself as someone who would be bidding on multiple purchases. They checked to make sure you had a cashiers check for $5k and a valid ID and then given a bidders card to hold up at the auction. We went to grab a bite to eat and came back a few minutes after 6pm to find ~500 people already seated for the auction and they were scrambling to bring in more chairs.
The bidding started at 6:30pm with a practice session for those that had never attended. There 90 properties to be sold and the Lake Martin house was #88. I took them 3 hours to reach #88. Most all of the properties had a listed starting bid of $1,000. The house value was listed at what ever the last person paid for it, note this is a lot different from what the house is actually appraised for or worth. The $1k houses took off at $5k bidding and went up. Most of those sold in the $30k to $100k price range. The auctioneer had several helpers in the aisles that you could call over to ask what the current price was and what the next bid price was, the auctioneer was hard to understand at times as he was going so fast. Once you won a bid and the property was declared sold, you were escorted to table to finish the paper work and provide or apply for financing.
You were supposed to be pre-qualified for the auction, however they had both Chase and Countrywide on hand. A lot of properties came back up for bid a 2nd time because the winning bidder failed to qualify for a loan and had no proof of cash reserves to pay for the house. This slowed the whole process down as they re-bid these properties before moving to new ones.
The lake martin house was listed for a starting bid of $159k and a value of $416k. Bidding started at $165k and quickly hit $225k among several bidders. Then it was down to two bidders who drove the price up to the winning bid of $285k in about 20 seconds. Add on the 5% for the auction company and the selling price was ~$300k.
Thanks Mr. EZ!!
Readers – was anyone else at the auction, and do you have more to add? If so please leave a comment below. Or maybe you weren’t there, but have an opinion on the price or process. Leave a comment below!
Or, do you have more Lake Martin newsworthy events? Contact John Coley by phone or email at the top of this page. We are always on the hunt for great story ideas.
A Lake Martin Voice reader submitted these questions to me about the Lake Martin real estate market in general. They were so good that I thought we all would benefit from my attempts to answer. Do you disagree? Then reply below and let me hear about it. The RIQ (reader in question) purchased a Lake Martin waterfront home in 2006. Here are my OPINIONS, for what they are worth, I am neither an appraiser nor soothsayer:
1. We arent looking to sell, but gosh, in this environment, is seems like we just bought at the wrong time. What do you think?
I think that 2006 was the peak of the bull market in Lake Martin waterfront property.
2. Will Lake Martin property values ever come back?
I don’t think they have gone anywhere to warrant a “come back.” In other words, I don’t see evidence that prices have dropped, only evidence that they have ended a scorching run of yearly gains. So if by “come back” you mean will prices someday start going up again? Of course. It’s all about supply and demand. In my estimations property values in the period of 2000 – 2006 climbed 30% PER YEAR. No product, not even oil, or bottled water, can sustain that. Since then I think we have had 0% gain for 2 years. Yet, if you average that gain over 8 (2000 – 2008) instead of 6 (2000 – 2006) you still average 22.5% gain per year. I realize you bought in 06, but still you need to know that over the long term (40 years), history has shown us that Lake Martin averages 12 – 15 % per year gain.
3. Do you think our decision on this house will prove to be an œok decision for long term financial objectives?
Don’t mean to sound like a smart Alec, but let me know of another investment that has averaged 12 – 15% per year for the last 40 years. I will start selling it instead of Lake Martin real estate. I am too conservative (and cash poor) of an investor to hop in and out of real estate on the short term. But for the long term, it’s hard to beat. Remember, unlike Tampa or Atlanta or whatever, Lake Martin is not growing geographically. Waterfront footage is fixed. Furthermore, practically every inch of undeveloped (450+ miles) shoreline is owned by either Russell Lands or Alabama Power. It’s not like you have 100 different landowners or developers that potentially flood the market. I believe that Russell Lands is committed to measured growth. The last thing they want to do is flood the market with supply (which is why I think they have pulled back in the last 18 months). Alabama Power isn’t even in the real estate business. About every 5 years they release 15 new lots to lease. On the grand scheme of things, that is not a material amount of supply injection.
4. Do you think we could move our Lake Martin house if we had to?
Absolutely. Even though market wide, the Lake Martin market is still lukewarm, I have been blessed to have sold more real estate so far in 08 than all of 07. That’s not bragging because 07 was pretty pitiful. But an interesting point is that about half of the Lake Martin homes that I transacted this year had already been for sale before, some since 06. So did I sprinkle magic dust on their roofs? Did I go to the back yard and bury 6 statues instead of merely 1 statue of St. Whomever, patron saint of the desperate? No. I concentrated on the holy trinity of real estate: pricing, staging, and marketing. In a buyer’s market, things are still selling, it just takes a longer time. In 2005, it might take 20 days. in 2008, it might take 100. But it will sell. Sure, there is a lot of stuff on the market that is sitting for over 200 days. But, I am highly confident your home can be sold if properly priced, staged, and marketed. Will you make money? Who knows. I don’t know what you paid for it nor what you owe on it. But rest assured, if your goal is simply to “move” it, absolutely it can be done.
Does anyone else have an opinion? Help us all out and comment below. If you can’t see the “Leave a Reply” box below, click the “Continue” button then scroll to the bottom.
Recently two auctions were held at waterfront property on Lake Martin. A quick check with each of the auction companies revealed that neither homes sold for the reserved prices. Both remain unsold at post time.
Here’s the lowdown:
1. 284 Lakeview Drive - The “Waterfall House” at Willow Point – This auction was held on July 20, 2008. I wrote this post before the auction to spread the word. I haven’t talked to anyone that attended, but I spoke to a representative at Albert Burney Auction Company. He said that neither the lot nor the home met the reserved price that day and therefore did not sell at auction. He did say that both properties were available for sale in case anyone was still interested. If you (or someone you know and love) are, let me know.
2. 211 Farm Loop Road – Wind Creek Farms- This auction was held on July 26, 2008, by Deanco Auction Company. It had a published reserve price or minimum bid of $300,000. Apparently that amount was not met because a representative of the company confirmed that it also failed to sell at auction date. Again, if you’re still interested, let me know. I went through this home about a year ago (when owned by a previous family) and have tons of pictures.
These recent strikeouts remind me of last summer’s Lake Martin auctions. You may remember when another auction company had a big deal where they tried to auction 3 different waterfront homes on the same day. None sold. Contrast that with 2007′s auction at Harbor Pointe condos, where they sold about 20 units in one day.
So why are waterfront home auctions not catching on at Lake Martin? Is it:
A. The buyers are reluctant to pay the typical 10% auction commission on top of their bid price?
B. It is too much of a hassle to view the homes at the times appointed by the auctioneers?
C. Sellers are placing too high of reserve prices?
D. Local Realtors are digging defensive trenches around Lake Martin?
E. Buyers are unrepresented (by agents) and therefore uninformed of value?
F. Or a combination?
What do you think, dear reader? If anyone out there has some input, or would at least like to vote on my suggestions, please leave a comment below where it says “Leave A Reply.” If you can’t see that, hit the Continue button and then you should be able to see it.
I am really curious as to what others might think. As a “professional” (I know, eyes rolling) I might be missing something here, so let me hear some other opinions.
Is driving all about the steering? No.
Then why should Lake Martin real estate agents think that a transaction is all about him or her? It always puzzles me when real estate agents let their egos become part of the buying and selling process.
It happens all of the time at Lake Martin, as I am sure it happens everywhere. Now, I am not talking about good ole competitive spirit or clean hustle. I am talking about the instances where the agents seem to think that if wasn’t for them, the whole transaction wouldn’t happen at all.
Here are 4 ways Lake Martin realtors are like power steering:
1. Not essential – people have been selling each other land since the beginning of the deed. I am sure that the first horseless carriage was hard to steer, but possible.
2. But helpful- there’s no denying that it’s physically easier to drive with power steering, and a good real estate agent, focused on only your needs, should make buying or selling your Lake Martin home easier by doing things like previewing homes, meeting the inspector, finding the right subcontractor, or researching in the courthouse – whatever it takes to make it easier on you.
3. Safer – It’s safer going around a curve when you don’t have to muscle the wheel by yourself, and a good realtor will point out the possible pitfalls in dealing with Lake Martin real estate. There are plenty of oddities about Lake Martin real estate – valuing your lot, waterfront easements, leased lots vs. deeded lots, just to name a few. Are you prepared to know which questions to ask?
4. More efficient- power steering smooths out all of the minute under and over steering while you drive. The result is a smoother, straighter ride. In the same way, a good real estate agent will help Lake Martin buyers skip the properties they wouldn’t like anyway and concentrate their time on the few real possibilities. Similarly, Lake Martin sellers can avoid all of the common mistakes that sellers make when marketing their lake property.
I am far from perfect; in fact I’m just an old chunk of coal. Sure, I can’t help but get emotionally and personally involved in a lot of cases. But I constantly remind myself that it’s not about me! It’s about them! It’s my job to help make my clients’ experiences fun, safe, and more efficient.
If I can’t prove to a Lake Martin buyer or seller that I can’t save them time and money, then I can’t look them in the eye and expect them to hire me!!
I guess part of being a realtor, even in the web 2.0 world, is cheesy self promotion, hence the obnoxious headline.
Alison Ketcham of the Birmingham News interviewed me in an article she did for the Sunday, July 22, 2008 paper. It was in the Real Estate section, page 22J.
She wrote the article about buying second homes, and what the current real estate market is doing to vacation home sales. She interviewed a developer on Lake Mitchell, a realtor that sells homes in the foothills of the Appalachians, and talked to me about Lake Martin. It should be on al.com pretty soon, when it is, I will link it in here.
I was really honored to be interviewed. Plus, the picture she used (below) was one of mine, of a home I have for sale, 1135 Lakeview Drive. It is a 3 bed, 2.5 bath home built by Bradley Pemberton of Landmark Construction and Development. We just dropped the price to $447,000 – click here for the direct link to watch an online video tour.
I mainly talked about how it is a buyer’s market, yet we still have historically low rates. Here is but an excerpt:
“Over the past 40 years or so Lake Martin property has appreciated at about 12 to 15 percent per year,” Coley said. That return combined with the fact that a vacation home provides a place to bring family together makes it a good investment.
“I tell buyers that historically Lake Martin has strong returns like a mutual fund, but it’s better,” Coley said. “Because 30 years later nobody says ‘Hey, didn’t we have fun sitting on the dock of that mutual fund?’ You can get a return on your investment, but nothing can replace the memories that you can make with your kids on the lake.”
“No one has warm and fuzzy feelings about their 401k plan, but they do have warm and fuzzy feelings about the lake.”
Thanks, Alison, for the mention in a well written article.
Here is the picture of 1135 Lakeview Drive that she used:
You may have heard the new F word that is seeping through the real estate industry and trickling down to Lake Martin – Foreclosures! A lot of folks ask me if Lake Martin has as high a foreclosure rate as the rest of the nation.
First of all, I must give a huge hat tip to Kevin Warmath on his blog LiveInAlpharetta. I read this post on Alpharetta Foreclosures of his a few weeks ago and I loved his “new F word” phrase I had to use it:
“While a lot of sellers want to use the real ‘F’ word for this real estate market, my ‘F’ word in this market is Foreclosure. Everyone is fixated on Foreclosures. Last week alone, I had three people contact me out of the blue looking for Foreclosures…looking for a deal.”
Back to the local question:
Are there many Lake Martin waterfront homes in foreclosure sale right now?
Short answer: no.
Lake Martin has been affected, just like the rest of the country, by the downward spiral of the real estate market. There are a lot of waterfront lots and homes for sale right now, and many of them are spec homes. But there are not many being sold on the courthouse steps in foreclosure sales.
That is because (at least traditionally) builders or people don’t owe more on a Lake Martin property than it’s worth. So the banks choose not to let it go all the way to the courthouse sales. Most of the time the banks choose to sell it themselves (just like a FSBO) or they use a realtor, just like any other seller (aka a REO sale). Click here for more info on the foreclosure process.
Will we see more in the future? Probably so. But if I had to guess, I don’t think you will see as many courthouse steps sales for waterfront properties as in proportion to other markets. In the past the sellers have cut their prices enough or the banks simply REO’d them. I could be wrong, though.
I sincerely hope that a seller would cut the price to sell it and break even before a foreclosure. Some don’t, though, no matter how savvy or sophisticated they seem.
To wit: laughing Ed McMahon, Tonight Show sidekick, and (most ironically) America’s hope for retirement, Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes check toter, is being foreclosed. Isn’t that weird? The man that all of America would love to see knocking on their door will be losing his doors very soon. According to reports, he owes $4.8 million on a home that he has for sale for $6.25 million. AND HE WON’T DROP THE PRICE??
I can’t believe it. Hey Ed, why not shave it down to an even $5M, pocket a cool 2 hundy, and be done with it? Maybe there are other issues here, but to me it’s crazy. Sure, it hurts your pride to drop the price, but I guarantee you that would not have made the national headlines like a foreclosure has. What do you think, Ed?
“You are correct, sir!”
Lake Martin real estate waterfront sales showed some signs of improvement in April 2008 as compared to April 2007.
In April 2008, there were 18 waterfront homes and condos and 1 lot sold through the Lake Martin MLS.* Compare that to 2007 when 17 homes and condos were sold and 2 lots. Combine them together, and you’re at a dead heat of 19 properties in each year.
For those keeping a running tally, and don’t feel like clicking back to the post where covered Lake Martin sales for the first quarter of 2008, that makes a total of 35 residences sold through the MLS the first four months of 2008 and 50 residences sold in the first four months of 2007.
While it might not represent the explosion of waterfront property sales that sellers were hoping for, it does show a potential for Lake Martin sales to be better in 2008 than they were in 2007.
First of all, in March 07 there were 25 sales, and then in April 07 it dropped to 17. In 2008, we had 11 in March and 18 in April. In fact, sales through the Lake Martin MLS in April 08 matched the sales in the previous 3 months combined. So at least we are on an upswing in 2008.
Interested in buying Lake Martin property? Email me or call me at the number at the top of this page. I’ll help you sort through all of the choices and help you get the best deal for the home or lot of your dreams. All realtor fluffery aside, this summer truly is a great time to buy. Don’t wait until next year.
(*)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 sales on Lake Martin.
I grew up on Lake Martin, in the real estate business. I know what I like. I know which parts of Lake Martin I prefer. I have been all over this lake, and have friends in every corner. But guess what¦
No one cares about that.
Especially my clients¦ nor should they.
One of the first things my dad taught me about Lake Martin real estate was œdont show them what you like, show them what THEY like. Simple but true.
The key to helping people be happy with their waterfront property is to focus on what they think, not you.
A realtors local knowledge and experience does matter, but only to the extent that they use that to help their clients get what they want. There are all kinds of buyers out there. Some Lake Martin buyers prefer Kowaliga Creek to Blue Creek. Some prefer the Preserve at Stoney Ridge to the Ledges at The Ridge. It doesnt matter what I prefer.
On the selling end, in order to be the best listing agent, I must look at a sellers lake home with the eyes of an unbiased buyer, not filtered by my own preferences. I have to market each home based on its own unique properties. You dont market a condo in Stillwaters the same way that you do a cabin in Little Kowaliga.
So how do you find out what people want? You shut up. You ask a good question, then you shut up and listen to their answer.
Not that I am perfect at this. I constantly have to remind myself to be quiet and listen. I make it a habit to ask specific, dialog inducing questions – not did you like that waterfront lot? – rather œwhat about that lot did you like? The latter helps me understand their reasons instead of just logging a result.
The more I learn about the client, the better I can help, and the happier they will be.
Lake Martin, like any real estate market, will always have its share of people selling their waterfront property themselves – aka For Sale By Owner or FSBO (pr FIZZ-bo). And that’s fine with me. I am not one of those realtors that looks down on FSBOs as idiots or realtor hating zealots. I think it is up to me as a real estate agent to prove to the FSBO prospect that I will save them time and make them money if I list and help sell their Lake Martin home or lot.
I talk to FSBOs all the time. What I try to do is help them by giving them the clear and un filtered truth about the Lake Martin market and how the market might react to their home. The decision to list or not to list is certainly up to them.
That being said, there will always be a segment of people that choose to sell their real estate themselves, without the help of an agent. So I figure I might as well be helpful in case the FSBO experiment doesn’t go well, maybe they’ll call me. They often do.
I read a great article for advice to FSBOs in today’s Wall Street Journal. Click here to read it. It had a lot of helpful sales strategies for FSBOs.
I would add to the article these suggestions to anyone selling their waterfront property themselves:
John’s Tips to any Lake Martin For Sale By Owner:
1. Get Your Own Website – Go to a domain seller like godaddy.com and buy your own website address. If your home’s address is 123 Lake Street – buy www.123Lake.com or whatever is available. The shorter the better. I do this for all of my listings. Use this on your flyers and advertisements. If you advertise your home on something like fsbo.com, its website will be something incoherent like www.fsbo.com/e34h3449ir4827 – no buyer can remember that, especially one that has been at Chimney Rock drinking beer for 3 hours. Once you have bought your site through godaddy, go to the control panel and choose “domain forwarding” to point the site to the long one at fsbo dot com. That way anyone who types 123lake.com in their browser will be taken automatically to the fsbo site.
2. Buy Custom Signs – Those “For Sale By Owner” signs you buy for $3 at WalMart might be appropriate for your used go-cart that you put out on highway 63, but do you really think it conveys the right image to someone you are asking to spend $600,000 for a waterfront home on Lake Martin? I use Cliff Grinnell at EBanr. His office is in Alex City on the Dadeville Highway. You need at least 2 – one for the road, and one for the waterfront. Make them double sided for greater visibility. I would go ahead and buy 4 so that you can switch them out to avoid being faded or dirty. Also be sure to get 2 “info tube” things at WalMart or Home Depot so you can put some flyers in both signs.
3. Make Effective Flyers – You start by taking great pictures of your home or lot. Then spend the money and have them printed by a high quality color LASER printer. Go to Kinko’s if you have no color laser printer of your own. Get them to go ahead and run 150 copies while they’re at it. The big cost here is the setup for a new print job, each additional copy is not as expensive, so you might as well print them all at one stop. If you’re putting the flyers in the info tubes in the signs, don’t waste a lot of space by pictures of the outside. They know what the outside looks like. Just use one or two of the lakeside so that they can easily remember which one is yours (odds are that yours is the 10th flyer they have pulled that day). If you are putting the flyer elsewhere then include more pictures of the waterfront. Most Lake Martin buyers are concerned about the property’s waterfront, so highlight that.
4. Be Available At An Instant To Talk Or Show The Home – Put your cell phone number on all advertisements. Don’t confuse buyers by giving your home phone in town, your home phone at Lake Martin, your office phone, your fax, etc. Just one will do. Then KEEP THE CELL PHONE ON YOU at all times. When it rings, answer it. If you don’t answer the phone, the majority of buyers will move along and not leave a message. If they want to see it now, show it now.
5. Call Or Email Me With Questions – Every property on Lake Martin is unique, with its own special selling points to promote and challenges to overcome to a potential buyer. If you’re stumped, give me a shout. I am glad to help you think of an answer, even if you plan to continue to sell it yourself.
Do you have another helpful FSBO tip for the rest of Lake Martin? Leave a comment below and help us all out! If you can’t see the “Leave a Reply” box below, click “Continue” then scroll down to the bottom.
Why do some real estate agents insist on holding their sellers to the last day of a listing contract? I don’t know if my market on Lake Martin is different, but I don’t see the point in guilt tripping a seller into staying with me if they are unhappy or decide not to sell.
Obviously, I am in the business to sell Lake Martin real estate. I don’t go into a listing intending not to sell it, not to give bad service. But I find that in talking to some sellers, they are leery of signing a listing contract for fear that they will be held in slavery by an agent. Once they figure out that they can fire me anytime they want, it makes them feel better about the agreement. I only want them as clients if they’re happy with how hard I am working for them.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I found myself telling this to the owners of these new listings. I assured them that if they wanted out of the listing agreement at any time, for whatever reason, that’s OK with me. They wouldn’t owe me a dime. I even wrote it into the listing agreement to let them know that I meant it. It was surprising to most of them.
Coincidentally, I saw a great post on the same subject by Jay Thompson, the Phoenix Real Estate guy. I agree with his take 100%. It is a real advantage to own your own small brokerage. I can make rules like this for myself. I don’t have to wade through some big corporate bureaucracy. I make the policies, and can work with clients to suit their needs, not according to the whims of Big Brother.