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Archive for the 'Seller Tips' Category

Guess What? Nothing Happened At Lake Martin Auctions

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.

lake martin auction waterfront real estate

Here’s the lowdown:

1. 284 Lakeview Drive – The “Waterfall House” at Willow PointThis 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.

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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.

Related Posts:

Register Now For Auction At Willow Point
Results of Harbor Pointe Condo Auction

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4 Ways Lake Martin Realtors Are Like Power Steering

lake martin price dropIs 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:

lake martin realtor1. 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!!

Related articles:

Lake Martin Sellers – Don’t Pick This Realtor
5 Mistakes Lake Martin Buyers Make

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John Coley Featured In Bham News Article On Vacation Homes

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:

Lake martin home for sale blue creek

Lake Martin And The New F Word

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.

lake martin foreclosuresFirst 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.

Long answer:

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 forlake martin forclosure sales 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!”

Phil Hartman as Ed McMahon

Lake Martin Waterfront Sales – April 2007 vs April 2008 – A Photo Finish

Lake Martin real estate waterfront sales showed some signs of improvement in April 2008 as compared to April 2007.

lake martin property sales waterfront

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.

Lake Martin MLS stats April 07 vs April 08

lake martin real estate blog

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.

lake martin property waterfront

Related Articles:

Lake Martin Is High, But So Is Real Estate Inventory
Lake Martin MLS Sales – 2007 Year In Review

(*)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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Tell Your Realtor To Shut Up And Listen To You

lake martin waterfront property for saleI 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.preserve at stoney ridge lake martin 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 Ledges At The Ridge

The more I learn about the client, the better I can help, and the happier they will be.

I believe it was jazz great Dizzy Gillespie that said, œIts taken me much of my life to learn what notes not to play.

Amen, Dizzy.


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Lake Martin Property : For Sale By Owner Tips

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 JournalClick 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:

lake martin for sale by owner1.    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.

lake martin FSBO waterfront property homes4.  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. 


If You Don’t Like My Service, Please Fire Me On The Spot

lake martin listing agreementsWhy 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 lake martin agent commissionassured 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.

Lake Martin Is High, But So Is Real Estate Inventory

Lake Martin propertySpring rains have filled Lake Martin faster than almost anyone expected “ in the first 3 months of 2008 we went from bone dry to runnething over. Will the waterfront real estate market bounce back in three months, too?

Not likely. There is still a lot of inventory to sell which I think will continue to make 2008 a great time to be a buyer. To wit:

A comparison of the first quarter sales in 2008 shows that in the entire Lake Martin residential waterfront market on the MLS(*), there were fewer sales this year than in 2007.

If you look back to the post where I reviewed Lake Martin waterfront sales in 2007, you will remember that January “ March 2007 saw 43 waterfront properties sold:

lake martin mls sold waterfront 2007lake martin mls sold waterfront 2007

lake martin sales

The same statistics in the first three months of 2008 in the Lake Martin MLS shows sales of only 17:

Lake martin sales mls Review of 1q08

Is it time for sellers to to give up? Will 2008 see only 58 waterfront homes (17 * 4) sold? Of course not. History shows us that the four months February “ May of every year counts for almost 50% of residential waterfront sales on Lake Martin. We still have half of that critical period to go before we get a better prediction on 2008.

Also remember “ January and February 2008 sales were also affected by the drought. Just look at news reports from that period “ they were dire. Some people openly wondered if the lake would EVER come back. The water level really didnt start shooting up until the last week in February “ when it rose a whopping 4 feet in 7 days. Since then, spirits have been buoyed and more buyers are crawling the coves.

So can sellers relax? Will Lake Martins water level comeback springboard the real estate market back into the raging sellers market of 2005?

Not likely.

There is still a lot of inventory. There is a lot of competition for the buyers attention. It is still very possible to sell in this market (the fact that my lights are on testify to that fact). I am telling all of my sellers that we must continue with intense focus on the golden trinity of real estate: pricing, marketing, and staging. As a seller, you must do all 3 exceptionally well in order to sell on Lake Martin right now. The sellers who get overconfident now will be the last to sell this year, guaranteed.

Are you considering selling your waterfront property now that Lake Martins water is up? Or maybe you just wonder how the last 24 months have affected its possible value? Call or email John for a no guilt, no hassle, pain free Comparable Market Analysis. See the contact info at the top of this page. If you dont want to sell after we talk, no hard feelings “ I promise.

(*)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 Real Estate MLS Statistics – 2007 In Review

The Lake Martin real estate market suffered a major slowdown in 2007 for a variety of reasons.  I dug through the sales results in the Lake Martin MLS to attempt to cut through the gossip and analyze the numbers.

In 2007, the number of Lake Martin waterfront homes sold was about 35% less than in 2006.  2006 was about 17% less than the peak of the sellers’ market in 2005:

MLS sales figure 04-07 cropped scrn print ifin

Witness the Transformation From Sellers’ to Buyers’ Market:

In 2006 and 2007, the number of Lake Martin waterfront homes that were added as new listings to the market out paced those that were actually sold every month.  Therefore sales inventories ballooned, and this 24 month period proved crucial:

MLS monthly stats 06 and 07 screen print 2

More Analysis Of Waterfront Homes Sold in 2007:

153 Lake Martin homes sold in 2007.  Of those, 114 were homes and 39 were condos.  Of the 153, 142 were deeded lot homes and 11 were leased lot homes.

Prices of Homes Sold in 2007:

Of the 153, 13 homes were listed as having sold at $0.  This happens sometimes.  Most of the time it is at the request of the seller.  A minority of people don’t want “their business” on the MLS.  Sometimes it is a builder that doesn’t want to publish how far he dropped the price.  So the below statistics will only deal with the 140 that sold and published prices:

2007 sales breakdown print screen irfan

The most expensive home sold was for $3.88 million in The Ridge.  The lowest was a manufactured home on a leased lot in Pleasure Point for $25,000.


Sales of waterfront lots on Lake Martin were also affected in 2007.  In total, 37 lots were sold in 2007, as compared to 55 in 2006.  The monthly sales numbers are:

Lake Martin waterfront lot sales 2007

As the numbers point, out, now is a great time to buy Lake Martin waterfront real estate.  Do you need help finding the best deal? Let me show you around..

Or do you own Lake Martin property, and are wondering how all of this news affects your particular situation?  Call me, I will be glad to give you an idea of how the changing real estate market will translate to your bottom line. No cost, no pressure, no kidding.

Still curious about Lake Martin real estate statistics?  Leave a reply below and suggest how you would like me to slice and dice the numbers.

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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