Archive for the 'Seller Tips' Category

Desperately Seeking Lake Martin Property to Sell

That’s right.  Lake Martin and the rest of the real estate world is supposed to be in the throes of the worst market since 1979. Or is it the worst tulip bubblerecession since the Great Depression?  Or the worst potatoes since the Irish famine?  I get confused – I’ll have to check with the financial brainiacs like Matt Lauer, the MSNBC staff, or Miss Cleo.

Anyway, despite all of the doom and gloom some people are peddling, the Lord has blessed Lake Martin and me with a hot little run of sales over the past 6 weeks.  Of my 11 listings of waterfront homes or lots I had for sale at the beginning of the summer , 6 are sold or under contract.

If the above sentence doesn’t jinx me, nothing will.

My point is, praise God, He has blessed me to help some folks sell their homes.  I need more to sell.

So in the midst of a real estate market on Lake Martin that has more homes for sale than ever, at a time when most real estate “coaches” tell you to forget about sellers and bark for buyers, I (thankfully) find myself in the position of looking for sellers.

What kind of Lake Martin home owners?

What measure of success I’ve been blessed with has been of a certain type:  realistic, aggressive sellers.

Yes – I have also turned away business in record amounts, too.  Not that I’m too cool for it, but they were cases where I wasn’t the guy for the job. If you contact me and I don’t think I am a good fit for you, you will hear it from me first.

You don’t need to be desperate, just realistic.

That’s what I’m telling sellers at any price point.

If you know of any, please let me know!  Call me at the number at the top of the screen or contact me here!

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Call Me a Lake Martin Real Estate “Interventionist”


Need a Lake Martin real estate intervention?

I really like idea behind the HGTV show, Real Estate Intervention.  It’s real.  It’s practical. And like a lot of these real life intervention shows, if I had any sense I would buy copies to make my kids watch when they become teenagers.

My wife and I were joking that we could make a show about Lake Martin waterfront home sellers – The Lake Interventionist: Helping Sellers Get Rid of Their Unsold Properties By Any Means Necessary. I could be the interventionist, the one that sits down with the sellers, holds their hands lovingly, with dewy eye, and tells them that they need some help.

We could sit around the living room of their Lake Martin house, and instead of friends and family, I could bring with me some local “experts” to address the holy trinity of real estate:

1) StagingBee Little could pat them on the back and encourage them to de-clutter and remove their yard gnomes.

2) Pricing.  My dad (Walter Coley) or Ron Morgan (Lake Dog Appraisal) as appraiser could give them the hard news:  “It ain’t worth what it was in ’06.” If they’re a spec builder, this might include a (loving) slap and a stern “I don’t care what you’ve got in it.”

happy-thoughts3) Marketing.  Pan back to me and I’ll explain that no matter the bad news, there is a way out!  There is a path to success.  Market hard – with first class videos and online marketing.  Forget billboards and newspapers. (Print advertising is as dead as the Boston Globe.)

Sure – I’m farming out the tough love and I get to be Mr. Cool.  But what’s the point of having your own show if you’re not the hero of every episode?

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May 09 Lake Martin Waterfront Sales Highest In 2 Years

The Lake Martin real estate market shook off a 24 month slump by posting 22 waterfront home sales in May 2009 through the MLS.

This is the highest recorded number of lake home sales since May of 2007 when 23 were sold.

This should be welcome news to sellers of lake front property, who saw sales sputter on Lake Martin in April. This rally brings 2009 total sales to 53, slightly ahead of 2008’s May to date total of 50.

Could this be a return to normalcy for the Lake, and for luxury second home markets as a whole?

It certainly is encouraging to see the current month trounce the same month last year. Year to year improvements on units sold are seen by many analysts as a critical sign of real estate recovery, and it is a statistic that I am hyper focused on for Lake Martin.

The Bad News (Or Good News To Buyers)

One thing that sellers did not like to see was the total number of waterfront homes for sale in the Lake Martin MLS ROSE AGAIN this month to a total of 555. I can’t find another month on record that had this many for sale. This dubious honor will no doubt keep the balance of supply and demand in the favor of buyers, for at least several months.

A Look Ahead

I am not ready to call the bottom yet.  I would like to see at least three or four months in a row of slayings like this. One interesting figure is that, as of this writing, there are 34 water front homes pending in the Lake Martin MLS.

How many of these will close in June? Some are short sales and are taking a long time during the due diligence phase.  Some are not short sales or foreclosures and will close in July anyway.

Right now, praise God, I have been busier than ever.  I have 5 homes under contract and probably 1 will close in June.  My point is, in June 2008, only 7 sold on the entire Lake.

Calling The Bottom - Yeah!!Therefore we have a good chance that if even half of current pending sales close in June 2009, Lake Martin sales will trounce June 2008.

Hey buyers – are you going to wait around and let all the good ones get picked over? Why not give me a call and let me point you to the best deals at 350k, 450k, 550k, and beyond?

To the reader – what do you think about this rally? Is this bull market cyclical or secularAre you ready to call the bottom? Why or why not?  Please leave a comment or reply below.

For Every Post I Have Written On Sales Statistics, See:

Lake Martin Market Statistics Category

(*)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.

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Lake Martin 2009 Waterfront Sales Match 2008 In First Quarter

“Have Lake Martin sales picked up yet?”

I get this questions a lot.  Waterfront sales on Lake Martin are cyclical anyway, and after a tough Oct – Dec 2008 everyone is anxious to see if 2009 will be the year the market takes back off.

So far, it looks like January – March 2009 (1Q09) is in lockstep with waterfront sales in 1Q08. There were 20 sold in 1Q08 and 22 sold in 1Q09:

I guess I could make a sensational headline like:

2009 Sales Are Up 10% Over 2008” but when that 10% = 2 sales, well, it seems like (statistically) a close call.

I think the real story lies in the active listings and new listings columns.  In March 2008 we added 110 listings for sale around Lake Martin, and had a total of 418.  In 2009, there was a little more total for sale, at 474, but in March 09 only added 53 to that total.
lake martin real estate sales 2009
So what?

To me that is a sign of hope that sellers are pulling back a bit, and only selling when they are serious. I also think it is obvious that there is a lack of new spec homes on the market. Waterfront spec homes were still hitting the Lake Martin real estate market back in 08 because the pipeline can sometimes be about 8 months. In other words, new spec homes popping up as new listings in January 2008 were likely started around April 2007. But by April 2008, everyone had figured out that we were in an extreme buyers market, and quit starting spec homes.

The only spec homes now on the market are holdovers from 2007 and 2008, and in some rare cases, 2006.

Foreclosures? Short sales?

Yes,  Lake Martin is starting to see more foreclosures and short sales.

It’s hard to come up with an easy list of Lake Martin foreclosures or short sales because there is no field in the Lake Martin MLS to designate as foreclosure or short sale.  In contrast, you can easily search for waterfront homes or lots by choosing “Y” in a Lake Martin MLS search here.  For foreclosures and short sales, you pretty much have to deduce it by the seller (a bank or some other financial sounding company) and also the trusty Lake Martin grapevine.

What will the Lake Martin real estate market do in 2009?

No one can know for sure at this point, of course, but here are a couple of indicators that I watch:

1.)     2009 monthly sales beating 2008 – by this I mean in number of homes sold.  We have already seen in 2008 that average prices fell.  So according to what we know about real estate cycles then we should expect to see individual months in 2009 beating their 2008 counterpart BEFORE we see prices rebound. But, current year MUST start beating prior years.  It happened in the last part of 2008, and 1Q09 beat 2008 timidly, which is why the smart money eyes will be on the crucial period of 2Q09 (April – June 2009).

2.) Cities / States that were Bubble Sources – I am not a real big believer in strong trickle down connections between markets, at least in a 1 to 1 relationship.  But it is interesting to watch with the economy as a whole.  I watch Florida, California, and Atlanta.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Market Statistics Category

(*)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.

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Coach Tuberville Lake Martin Home Video Tour

A video used to be embedded here but the service that it was hosted on has shut down.

Coach Tommy Tuberville is selling his Lake Martin home. Here is a video tour that I did today during an open house for realtors.

I am not the listing agent. Toni Adcock is, so she is the authority on all listing info.

But, if you or anyone you know is interested in the home, please contact me by calling or emailing me from my info at the top of the page.  As a member of the Lake Martin MLS, I can help you with any property on Lake Martin, regardless of who has it listed.

Thanks again to Toni and Coach Tuberville for putting on a great open house, I wish them the best, and I hope to be bringing the buyer!

Would you like to keep up with Lake Martin real estate news, market reports, and area info?  Here are 3 ways:

1. Subscribe by email – enter your email address in the box at the top left. No spam, just breaking news and analysis, mostly Lake Martin real estate slanted.

2. RSS Feed – for you folks that read news through a RSS Feed, click here to add this blog.

3. Twitter – Here is Lake Martin Voice on Twitter. I usually tweet my blog posts plus other pics and breaking news style tidbits.

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Russell Lands Affiliates With ERA Lake Martin Realty

Russell Lands, the largest private land owner and developer of Lake Martin, Alabama, has affiliated with the national real estate company of ERA.

This is huge news.

I was flipping through the April issue of Lake Martin Living this afternoon.  I noticed a big, nice ad on page 54 from Russell Lands.  The ad cites their website as Russell Lands On Lake Martin dot com.  This caught my attention as it is a new URL. Formerly everything Russell is on Russell Lands dot com.

So I checked out their new site.  It is really nice, goes over a lot of features of Lake Martin, like the new dining at Russell Crossroads like Catherine’s Market and Springhouse Restaurant.  The site also details the many off the water activities like hiking, biking and horse riding in Russell Forest.

Then I clicked on one of the upper tabs marked “Corporate” and then on the “Affiliated Businesses.” It details out many businesses of which I am familiar like Russell Marine and Willow Point.  But the last one really caught my eye: “ERA Lake Martin Realty.” What?

Check it out.  If you click on that link, it takes you to an entirely different site – ERA Lake Martin Realty dot com.

On that site header it calls ERA Lake Martin Realty “A Russell Lands Affiliated Company.” On the page that describes the ERA Advantage, it describes ERA Lake Martin Realty as “formerly Russell Lands Real Estate.”

If you click on the “meet the agents” tab, you will see many (but not all) of the agents that have been advertised in past issues of Lake Martin Homes and Land Magazine and those listed as having their license with Russell Lands according to the Alabama Real Estate Commission.

So I guess that we have an entirely new real estate company on Lake Martin – ERA Lake Martin Realty, which is populated by many agents that were “formerly Russell Lands Real Estate.” Okay.

I think this will have a interesting impact on the Lake Martin real estate market. It will be really interesting to see how they roll out their new plans.  I will comment on the possible effects of this later, but for now, I give congratulations on the new venture; I wish the company and its agents the very best!

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Anatomy Of The Perfect Lake Martin Flip

This is the story of Bryan and Allison Jones, who defied the odds of a slow real estate market and sold their Lake Martin waterfront home in 34 days in 2008.

Plus – it was a flip. We have so many spec homes on the Lake Martin market right now and back then.  We also have some foreclosures and bank REO as fallout  – they had to compete against them all.  They excelled.

But how??claw foot tub

1. Great design – their home escaped the noise of a crowded market in Lake Martin because of great design.  Call it unfair, but they had two advantages.  Bryan is an architect at JonesPierce Architects in Atlanta.  Allison is an interior designer with Insight Design Interiors Inc.  They improved on the home structurally by keeping the lake the focus, and topped it off with interior colors and features that Lake Martin buyers want like a claw foot tub in the master bath (not usually seen at that price level).

2. They didn’t overbuild – even though they have the chops to build anything they want, Bryan and Allison wisely realized that in order to sell, they shouldn’t create a seven bedroom home when most in their neighborhood had three.  Their restraint also kept the home in the meat of the bell curve of the Lake Martin market.

605 lakeview3. They focused on the selling points – get ready for a brilliant observation: people buy homes at Lake Martin for the lake.  The Jones opened up the home with big windows and doors in the great room, and bay windows there and in the master bedroom.  They also added a huge screened in porch that takes in the breeze on three sides while overlooking the water through the cool forest of some Alabama Power timber land.

Bryan and Allison’s methods can and should be duplicated by any waterfront sellers on Lake Martin.  If you have been trying to sell your home for a while, ask yourself:

1.  Do I have a good design for my lake home?
2. Am I overbuilt for my area?
3.  Do I highlight the selling points of my home?

If you need help answering these questions, call me at the number at the top of the page, or contact me here.
when there were no frogs

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Reasons Why Banks Will Struggle To Sell Lake Martin Foreclosures

lake martin foreclosures REOThere are now many bank owned foreclosures or REO properties on the market at Lake Martin. We are no different from anywhere else in the country in that respect.

What is different about Lake Martin foreclosures is the curious choice that some banks or mortgage companies make when selecting a broker or real estate company.  I have talked to quite a few lately, and have compiled a few quick reasons why banks will struggle to unload their REO inventory at Lake Martin:

1.  Your agent is not a member of the Lake Martin MLS – don’t get me wrong – many foreclosures are listed by LMAAR members.  And I am not saying every LMAAR member is a superhero.  But if you are a bank, and yours is not listed in our area, how smart is that? Like 95% of Lake Martin homes are sold by members of the LMAAR.  If I can’t get into your lockbox, how can I sell your home?

2. Your agent does not know anything about the home, or even Lake Martin in general. I have called agents who tell me “I don’t know much about that one.  I think the price is $XXX,XXX.  Where is it again?” Please.  I am sure they are very nice agents, maybe even experts in their own local area, but that area is far away from Lake Martin.

3. Just because your agent’s office is an hour or so away, doesn’t make them a Lake Martin expert. Hey, I live about an hour and a half from Dothan, AL.  Legally, I can list I home there.  Would I? Heck no! I couldn’t look someone straight in the eye and tell them I am the best guy for the job.  I would refer to a Dothan real estate expert.

advice4. Just because your agent is handling 4 other homes for you in East Gotham, don’t make the mistake to let her handle Lake Martin like an afterthought.  Remember all that preaching you did to your customer (before you foreclosed) about choosing a high octane agent, marketing, and pricing?  WHY DON’T YOU FOLLOW YOUR OWN ADVICE?

This isn’t sour grapes against “interloper” agents from the big city.  More power to them.  I am a huge proponent of wall-less MLS areas.  The above points come from talking with foreclosure agents THIS WEEK. As a bank stockholder, and as a taxpayer that is bailing out banks, it worries me.  If they’re this slack about their lake homes, what is going on in the rest of the country?!?  Goodness!!  Give me a call, and I can help you go local and get effective immediately!

Related articles:

Lake Martin Sellers: Don’t Pick This Realtor
Lake Martin Seller Tips

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Lake Martin Real Estate Sales – 2008 Year In Review

The waterfront property sales in the Lake Martin MLS* ended the year by tying 2007’s December sales of 4.

lake martin waterfront property sales 2008

When we looked at November 2008 sales for Lake Martin, we saw that 2008 monthly sales were starting to beat 2007.  How did we finish the year?

On a whole, 2008 proved unable to beat the infamous drought year of 2007.  In total, 137 waterfront homes were sold through the MLS on 2008, which was about 12% less than 2007’s number of 156.

Check out the graph of cumulative sales:

To put this decrease into perspective, see the below chart.  It shows by month, sales of waterfront Lake Martin residences in the MLS.  You can see the decrease of number of sales from 2007 to 2008 of 12%.   Also consider that this is the third year in a row of consecutive decreases.

What did prices do on Lake Martin in 2008?

Another natural question is to look for evidence of falling prices in such a strong buyer’s market.  If you compare 2007 to 2008, it is interesting to note that at the low end and the high end, 2008 actually had more sales. As always, there are some sales that report “0” as the sales price.  If you take these sales out, it looks like:

Looking at the sales, I think this was due to many sales of leased lot mobile homes on the low end, and spec homes on the high end. Of the 24 homes sold at or above $1 million, about 14 were in the Ridge.

But this still does not give us any real feeling of a basic question that I get asked all of the time: Are Lake Martin sellers finally dropping prices?

I have said this many times before, but I will repeat – the Lake Martin area real estate market, especially waterfront property – is a relatively small pool of sales statistics from which to draw.  Sure, the lake itself is huge, but in terms of number of sales, we are small even by Alabama standards.  When you try to draw too many broad conclusions from a small set of data, you get weird results.  Nevertheless, I thought I could see some interesting trends if I looked at statistics like Total Sales Volume, Days On Market, and Average Price.  Check out these factoids covering 2005 – 2008:


Most of these factoids seem pretty logical and follow the pattern that we by hindsight know – that 2005 was the peak of an extreme seller’s market, and 2006 saw a transition to a buyer’s – and by 2008 we are at the other end of the spectrum, and extreme buyer’s market.  The Sold Price as a % of List Price decreases.  OK, check.  I get that.  Average Days on Market for sold listings dramatically increase, OK.  Active Listings balloon, almost doubling.  Right.

But wait – Lake Martin Average Price INCREASES?  Sure it came down a little in 08 but did it almost DOUBLE from 05 to 07?  That is counter intuitive.  My gut tells me no.  My gut tells me that the average is badly skewed by a few high sales prices, and since 2008 sold less than 50% of homes than 2005, it affects the average a lot more.

So is my gut correct?  Only one way to find out.

Searching For A Bell Curve

What will Lake Martin sales look like if I break them up into price categories and then divide by total sales? For example, in 2005, there were 77 homes sold in the $200k – $299k price range, and 284 total that year.  77 divided by 284 is about 27%.  That’s what gives you the peak in 2005’s line below.  It removes influence of the amount of each sale, and merely looks at each price category as it relates to the whole.  Then we can see how much each particular year is influenced by low or high end sales.  Here it is:

lake martin real estate sales history

If you care to view the numbers behind the chart, click here.

I believe that this graph clearly shows that the average reported waterfront sales prices of residences on Lake Martin in 2008 was definitely skewed by an unusually large percentage of high end sales.  The aqua line represents 2008.  Fully 18% of 2008 sales were above $1 million – while only 2% were in 2005.  18 divided by 2 is 9 – 9 times more greatly influenced by the high end.  That’s NINE TIMES, Ferris. Nine times.

Well, this is because things got more expensive, you might say.  No, I disagree.  If all prices increased, we would see more of a shift of the entire curve – as we saw from 2005 to 2006.  You can see that the peaks of 2006 and 2007 are definitely ahead of 2005 – to me a clear sign of overall price increases.  But check out what happens to the peak in 2008 – it drops back!

On all but the top 20% of sales on Lake Martin, 2008 was a year of decrease prices!  How much I am not willing to say.  Remember, we’re dealing with small samples.  For example, to look at this graph and say, since the peak in 2006 and 2007 was in the 400s, and it dropped back to the 300s in 2008 – it would be incorrect to think that the whole market decreased 25%.  But I do think it is OK to say we experienced a downward trend.


I can think of several applications for 2009:


1. Anyone that has been waiting until prices come down can quit waiting.  It is happening.

2. Observe that for sellers, their sweet spot came in 2006, when prices were still rising even though more and more homes were flooding onto the market.  It took them a while to catch on that the end was coming.  HOW LONG WILL YOU WAIT TO BUY?

3. This cycle WILL swing back. Will you be burned like some sellers were in 2006, gambling that prices would rise again in 2007, only to be hit with the drought then the bank meltdown?  When else in history have buyers had this perfect storm on their side?


1. This should show you that now, more than in the last 4 years, buyers are extremely price sensitive.  They are reacting to aggressively priced homes, not homes with crazy list prices.

2. There are TONS of other homes on Lake Martin for sale.  The buyer can pick among several good candidates.  You are not as special as you were in 2005.

3. Know your competition – look at your home and decide, what price point would I be in?  What would be my competition?  Regardless of the price, be competitive within that category.  Also, choose a price that justifies not stepping up or stepping down.

In Summary

Sorry for the long post, but I just couldn’t break this info up and it make any sort of sense.

Please note that I am not trying to break the news that it’s a buyer’s market and prices are dropping.  That’s obvious.  Similarly I realize I am not the first to discover the bell curve.  But – I do think it is tremendously exciting to finally have a mechanism to observe pricing trends that isn’t too mangled by our small sample size.

Call me a dork, but I love it.  I love Lake Martin real estate, so to me this is big.  Indulge me, OK?

(*)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.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Market Statistics Category

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2 New Charts: Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 08-2008

To respond to some readers’ comments, I thought I would publish a few more statistics from the Lake Martin MLS* waterfront home sales for August 2008.

Before I get into it, let me first caution all readers not to draw broad conclusions about the Lake Martin real estate market from the following two graphs.  I still maintain that looking too deeply into monthly sales statistics may be misleading, since we have such a very small market in terms of number of sales.  It just doesn’t make for a very good sampling pool when there are only 20 sales. So again I stress, this is for illustrative purposes only.  Keep in mind that you are only looking at 20 sales, only in the month of August.

The chart below makes a great case study as to why I am loathe to use trend analysis on monthly sales statistics. I am trying to answer the question, what did waterfront homes sell for relative to list price in August on Lake Martin? As you can see, sale number 18 does not have a sold price listed (no blue bar).  So if I were to include that in the average, it would totally mess up the average calculation.  I am sure that the home wasn’t give away for free.  For some reason, the seller chose not to list the sales price in the MLS.  It was a home that listed for around $300,000 – so I imagine it sold for around that amount.  But I don’t want to guess, so I left it out of the average calculation.  It’s a rolling average, so e.g. only the first 10 sales are averaged in #10, then on #11, 11 are averaged, etc.  On the last one, #20, I only average 19 since #18 was zero.

Nevertheless, here we go.  The blue bar is each sale’s % of Original List Price divided into sales price.  Original List Price is the list price used when a home was first entered on the Lake Martin MLS.  So if a home was put on the MLS on January 1 for $450,000 – then the list price was reduced on March 1 to $400,000 – then sold on August 15 for $385,000 – the calculation is $385,000 / $450,000.

Here is another chart, attempting to describe the average Days On Market for each waterfront home sold through the Lake Martin MLS in August.  My old statistics professor (RIP) would have a fit looking at this.  The standard deviation is too huge to be useful.  It goes from zero on the low side to a high of 456.  The rolling average ends up at 159.

Days on Market is defined as Date Sold minus Begin Date.  So if a property was sold on August 15, and it was entered on the MLS on July 1, that would equal 46 Days On Market.  Our average, at the end of August, was 159 Days On Market.  Is that close to our average for 2008?  My gut tells me yes, but I have not confirmed that.  So don’t take it as gospel.

I may decide to incorporate these types of charts in the future, but as you can see they get tedious when you have to comb through them to weed out sales which do not publish a sales price or some such other datum.

Hey Buyers – I’m talking to you. Yeah you.  If you have even thought about buying Lake Martin real estate in the last 4 years or 4 minutes, I am talking to you.  Would you like to know the top 5 properties out there in your category (lot, home, condo) that are the best value? Why not email me at the address at the top of this page.  Warren Buffet is buying, so you can say you did it because of him.  You will look smart.

“John – Where is your friend Ward?” From Lake Martin Voice

Related posts:

More posts on Lake Martin MLS Statistics

(*)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.

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