[email protected]

5 Questions and Answers: Leased Lot Homes on Lake Martin

These questions were submitted to me from a Lake Martin Voice reader needing more info on Alabama Power leased lots on Lake Martin.  If you have more questions on this or another subject, please email me or call me (info at top of page) and let me know.  Who knows, maybe your questions will inspire a post like this.

lake martin lot lease questions alabama power

1. Are Lake Martin lot leases standardized?  If so, where can I get a copy of the lease to preview?

Yes in that most all leases on Lake Martin are with Alabama PowerA lease they did 15 years ago might differ very slightly from one they did 2 years ago, but for the most part are the same. Copies – I doubt they would send you an example but as a practical matter I can send you copies – 4 of my listings (see each linked here) are leased lots right now. I can email them to you.

2. Are the expiration terms on all properties the same or do they vary from lot to lot?

The lease expiration and all other terms vary from lot to lot.  Most of them are for 25 years or 30 years total.

3. How does the property tax work on waterfront lot leases?

Alabama Power pays the property tax on the lot, and you pay on the improvements (house, dock, sea wall, etc). On Lake Martin, most of the value in any property is in the waterfront lot, so often the tax on the lot is greater than that on the improvements.


4. Are there any local lenders willing to do loans on leased lot homes?

Yes, plenty. National mortgage companies that have no clue about Lake Martin sometimes bring out the red tape over leases. That’s OK, because most of the time a local bank can meet or beat their rates and closing costs, anyway.


5. How has APCO historically acted upon termination of any existing leases on Lake Martin?

Have a lawyer examine each lease, but, in general at lease end they can:lake martin waterfront lot leases lake martin

A.) Renew the lease for another 25 or 30 years.
B.) Sell you the lot
C.) Buy the improvements from you at market value,
determined by an appraiser.
D.) Let you haul the home etc out of there.

Since my grandad started our company in 1953 we’ve never heard of them doing C or D. Not to say they never will, but I think it’s highly improbable.

Will they sell to you? I think odds are they will renew most of the time.  It seems like once every decade or so they decide to phase out of the Real Estate biz and sell upon renewal. They did it for a stretch in each of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. When they did it was (according to lot owners I’ve interviewed) at prices that folks were happy to pay.  Who knows what will happen.  I wouldn’t bank on it, but I wouldn’t let it bother me, either. I think most people look at it like this: if they feel the lot is worth at least $200,000 – it would take a bank payment of $1,200 a month (6% on 30 years) to finance the lot. The leases on my listings are all about $350 a month currently. So if you bank that $850 a month – at lease end you’ll have a huge chunk of cash if they sell it to you. Or a big cash nest egg for retirement. Whatever.

Extra Points to those who read these three Bonus Q&As:


1.  What is the highest valued leasehold property on Lake Martin that you’re aware of?

Value – depends on your definition of value here.  If asking price = value, right now there are about 16 leased lot homes for sale, lowest asking price is  $319,900 (info here) and highest is like $559,000.  If selling price = value, according to the MLS the highest leased lot home sold was for $489,000.  But I know of several leased lot homes that, if sold, would bring a lot more than that. But to answer the unasked question about appreciation of value – at the end of  2006 I did a study of the MLS for property types that sold multiple times within a 6 year period: lots, condos, deeded homes, leased lot homes.  I found multiple examples where the exact same lot sold, e.g., three times that period, or the exact same leased lot home sold.  I calculated a total gain and divided by number of years between first and last sale.  All property types AVERAGED about 30% gain PER YEAR.  Granted, that was at the end of a huge bull market run.  Over 50 years, most appraisers use the 12% to 15% gain per year factor.  But most importantly, it demonstrated to me that Lake Martin real estate appreciated rather uniformly across all property types (lots, condos, deeded lot homes, leased lot homes).  Sure, there are times when some types do better than others, but in any time frame greater than 4 or 5 years it is my opinion that all will appreciate pretty much uniformly.  It’s not a science.  We have small sample groups, but I’ve seen enough anecdotal evidence to convince me to have that opinion.


Quiz show thinker2.  How and who do you contact at APCo in order to negotiate lease extensions / renewals / purchase request / etc.?

Alabama Power has a land management office over in Dadeville which houses all of their people that do this, from the real estate leasing folks to the shoreline management (permits to build docks) folks.  Owners of leases talk to them about extensions. Typically they only talk to the owners, and won’t discuss hypothetical situations.  For example, if you called them up and said “I am thinking about buying a leased lot home, would you extend the lease” they would probably not talk to you as you are not the owner.  If you get down to an exact home you want to buy, and want more years on the lease, I (as your realtor, of course) would advise you to ask the sellers to make a request for a renewal letter.  Also I would advise that you make the contract contingent upon your favorable review of the lease.  All of them are pretty much the same, so you probably wouldn’t find anything that surprises you, but at least you have looked. Request to purchase – they haven’t offered any new lots to lease in a few years.  If they do that again, you can get on a list to be notified of the chance to bid for the right to lease them.


3. Will APCo verify expiration date of specific lots on Lake Martin?

I suppose that, if you had one under contract, your realtor (me 🙂 ) could call AL Power with the lease info and get them to independently verify that the seller has given you the current lease to review.  That office of Alabama Power is always swamped with heavy workloads, so I would be surprised if you as a potential buyer called them up if you could get them to respond in a timely way, if at all.  But who knows, maybe they might.  But again, if it were me, I would not do any verifying or extension / renewal talk until I had a property under contract.  It is just too much of a pain to do, you don’t want to ask Alabama Power for 4 or 5 favors and only use 1.

Do you have any other questions about Alabama Power lot leases on Lake Martin?  Leave a reply and comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer it.  Who knows, maybe someone else has the same question.

Leased Lot Homes For Sale:

For Sale: 145 Captains Road
For Sale: 26 Claytons Lane
For Sale: 207 Paces Trace
For Sale: Pleasure Point Road

Related Post:

Mythbuster: Alabama Power Leased Lots On Lake Martin

Tags: , , , ,

Lunch At Willow Point – Lake Martin

A couple of Sundays ago found us at Willow Point eating lunch to celebrate my Moms birthday. We ate lunch in the Willow Point Clubhouse, which overlooks the golf course, and of course, Lake Martin. I had my camera with me, and it was such a beautiful day, I thought to take a few photos.

Why do most Lake Martin lovers wait until Memorial Day to come to the lake? Beats me. Springtime has great weather “ plenty of sun and temps in the low 70s. What a beautiful day. Enjoy:

Willow Points 18th green:

willow point lake martin

Willow Points Driving Range:

willow point golf course lake martin

The tee box on number 10, one of the holes that play along Lake Martin:

willow point waterfront property

Willow Point Villas (available for rent by members):

Willow Point homes for sale

The Pool & Cabana:

willow point property lots lake martin

Tags: , , , ,

Little Kowaliga’s Little Steel .. errr… Concrete Bridge?

little kowaliga creek bridgeIf you have a Lake Martin house in the Little Kowaliga area, you are well aware that Little Steel Bridge Road aka Elmore County Road 55 is closed.  If you are heading to the Real Island or Parker Creek areas of Lake Martin, and are coming from the south, be aware that you must detour.  Keep going north on highway 9, when you hit downtown Equality, take Coosa County Road 2 east.

I have a home for sale near Real Island, and was heading over there last Friday.  I took that chance to snap these pictures.  I came away with a few observations:

a.)  Little Steel Bridge is steel no longer.   Mostly concrete with some steel girders thrown in for good measure (read engineering).

b.)  It’s going to take a while to complete.  Get used to the detour.

c.) Will they change the name of the road?  Unlikely.

lake martin bridge construction

 

 

 

 

   

lake martin waterfront property

 

 

  

 

 

lake martin maps directions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 lake martin waterfront lots

Tags: , ,

Lake Martin’s Sand Island Repaired By Russell Lands

Lake Martin’s Sand Island has been battered by erosion and losing real estate for many years. Alabama’s 80 year record drought exposed a land bridge and afforded area developer Russell Lands an opportunity to drive to it and make repairs.

I rode out there on Friday, December 14, 2007.  It was pretty weird to be able to drive to an island that I have ridden past in a boat hundreds of times.  I shot some video to show the repairs that Russell Lands did to stave off erosion.  They created a sea wall made of rip rap similar to those found on many Lake Martin waterfront homes.  To make the video play below, click on it, then click on the Play arrow in the center.

 

Click here for the direct link to Youtube.

Sorry for those dark corners.  I used the wrong lens.  FYI, if you’re thinking about driving out there, don’t bother.  The road is blocked by a couple of sturdy, locked gates.  Plus, it’s deer hunting season, and the area is heavily hunted.

My sincere thanks and Kudos go out to Russell Lands for repairing this famous Lake Martin / Kowaliga area landmark.  They deserve a lot of credit for using this crazy drought as a chance to do some good.

Also many thanks to my friend and Salvaging Mentor Larry Bain of Lake Martin Dock Company for the ride out there.

Tags: , ,

Lake Martin Marina Spotlight: Real Island Marina

lake martin Real Island real estate area

Real Island Marina – one of Lake Martin’s older full service marinas – is located in Elmore County on the southwest side of the lake. It’s close to Lake Martin landmarks such as Kowaliga Marina, Kowaliga Bridge, Willow Point, Parker Creek, and Sand Island. The Real Island / Little Kowaliga area is popular on Lake Martin. Since it is relatively close to Montgomery and Birmingham, homes for sale in the Real Island area are typically sought after by lake goers from these cities.

To contact Real Island Marina, call (334) 857-2741.

Real Island Marina sits on Little Kowaliga Bay, at the edge of the old Little Kowaliga Creek. It used to be an independent marina, but several years ago it was purchased by Lake Martin major landowner and real estate developer Russell Lands. It is now part of the group of 4 marinas that Russell Lands owns on Lake Martin.

One unique thing about Real Island Marina is the RV Rental area. That’s right – you can trailer your RV to Lake Martin and rent a spot from Russell Lands at Real Island. The views are great, looking over Little Kowaliga. The RV park probably sits on a couple million dollars worth of dirt. It stays booked up with long term leases, but if you want a spot, no harm in asking by calling the number below.

Real Island offers gas service, some boat parts, convenience store type food, and dry boat storage. Most of lake martin real island area homes for salethe time they have dry storage available, but with the recent drought, they might be booked up. If you need storage over the fall and winter, call now.

Right now, the water level on Lake Martin is 478.1 feet. There is a boat ramp at Real Island Marina, and you may or may not able to launch from there. You definitely should call and ask them before you make the trip.

To contact Real Island Marina:

2700 Real Island Road Equality, AL 36026

Phone: 334-857-2741

Homes and Lots For Sale In Real Island / Little Kowaliga

Are you interested in waterfront homes or lots for sale in the Lake Martin area of Real Island aka Little Kowaliga? Then CLICK HERE for the Little Kowaliga neighborhood page on my site. You will see a current, up to the minute list of waterfront homes and lots for sale, plus a general description of the Little Kowaliga area, and why some people call it Real Island.

Tags: , , , ,

New Lake Martin Lunch Spot: Green Valley Market & Cafe

Lake Martin lunch restaurantLake Martin has another great dining choice! The Green Valley Market and Cafe is now open.

The Green Valley Market is located in the Eclectic or Kowaliga area of Lake Martin, next to the Kudzu Corner. They are located on Highway 229 about halfway between where 229 intersects highway 50 at Castaway Island Road, and where 229 intersects highway 63 (aka Kowaliga Road) in downtown Kowaliga.

The Green Valley Market and Cafe sells sandwiches, and offers a good assortment of meat at their meat counter. If you need a lotGreen Valley market outside of food for your Fourth of July party, you may want to ask them about their catering. One of the newer trends on Lake Martin is selling ready to eat casseroles and such for people who don’t want to cook yet would like some home cookin. They sell a lot of the warm up and eat type of fare, which I am sure is very good. They also sell boutique looking spices, and little gifts, etc.

Lake Martin real estate lunchI have tried just about every sandwich they make, and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised. They serve the sandwiches with sides like potato salad or pasta salad, but my favorite is the black bean salad. Usually a lunch menu on the fru fru side does not do much for me, but their sandwiches taste really good. They use good quality meat and give generous portions. It is a great choice if you are looking for something other than fried foods.

Check them out! I recommend them heartily and wish them the best. Their phone is (334)857-3663. Street address is 2415 Red Hill Road, Eclectic, Alabama, 36024.

Related post: Four Great Lunch Meals Around Lake Martin

Tags: ,

Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: Bolton Cove Update

Lake Martin has a lot of development and new construction going on right now. One of the newest neighborhoods is called Bolton Cove. Below are some pictures of the construction progress, and how it compares to their plans.

Lake Martin Bolton cove real estate

Will the above be the site of the Bolton Cove Clubhouse?

Bolton cove ClubHouseStand-in
The above is a rendering of the planned Bolton Cove Clubhouse per the developer.

Lake Martin Bolton cove villaTo the left is an example of the “Tuscan inspired lake homes that will be the theme throughout Bolton Cove. I doubt you will be able to rent any of these.

Below is a pic, I assume of home sites, next to an existing Lake Martin home that is Lake Martin Bolton cove bordernot part of the project.

lake martin Bolton cove new constructionThe pic to the left was made standing on the south end of the cove, looking west to the back of that slough. I couldn’t easily tell by looking around how much waterfront the lots will have on Lake Martin. Maybe the next time I check I will be able to see some stakes or something.

Planned amenities of Bolton Cove:

The Bolton Cove Manor provides:

  • A community meeting room
  • Dressing areas
  • Swimming pool
  • Hot tub
  • Covered pavilions
  • Outdoor fireplace
  • Lake side beach

Concierge services:

  • Boat valet to the marina
  • Private slips
  • Lawn care
  • Hosting for Manor events

Directions to Bolton Cove:

To find Bolton Cove by land, from Birmingham you take 280 east, then take a right on highway 9 south at Kellyton, Alabama. Then take a left on Coosa County Road 20 east. Take Coosa 20 east until you take a right on the second Bywater Road, Bolton Cove is immediately on your left. You can take a left on Kowaliga Cove Road, it borders some of Bolton Cove, too.

From Montgomery, take Alabama highway 9 north, take a right on 259 north at Equality, then a right on Coosa 20 east, see above.

From Auburn take 280 west, then take a left on 22 west in Alex City, then a left on 259 south, then left on Coosa 20 east, see above.

By water, you need to be on the Kowaliga side of Lake Martin. Go north towards Willow Point. Pass by Sand Island. Head towards Veazy’s Marina and Scrushy’s house. When you see the point across the water from Veazy’s, hang a left and go west. Bolton Cove is almost directly west of Veazy’s.

Related post:

Have You Heard About These 4 New Projects On Lake Martin?

Tags: ,

Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: The Ridge

Lake Martin The Ridge LogoRussell Lands has developed neighborhoods on Lake Martin for over thirty years, but its newest, The Ridge, is vastly different from any one it has done before.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in The Ridge area, CLICK HERE to go to my Ridge Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Russell Lands has gated communities like Willow Point, and the Ridge is near to its other developments of Windermere, Windermere West, and Windover.  But The Ridge is a totally new animal.  Here are 5 Things That Make The Ridge Different:

1.  Heavy emphasis on selling through approved builders – Russell Lands started this Lake Martin trend a few years ago with Phase I of The Ridge, and continues it with Phase III.  They sell a certain number of lots to “approved” builders, who build spec houses and then turn around and sell them for the builders.  In prior developments, they sold almost 100% to the end homeowner.  The use of approved builders gives them much greater control over the quality of the homes.  They also get a lot of design consistency on the look of the homes by also having “approved” architects.  I think this also drives up the price so that their initial offering lot price to homeowners is pretty high.  As far as I can figure there is no real “pre-construction” pricing.

2.  The Ridge Marina – Russell Lands owns plenty of marinas around Lake Martin, but The Ridge Marina is the only one that is inside the gates of one of their developments.  It is a safe bet to say that The Ridge Marina is one of the largest marinas Ridge marina stack storage - smallon the lake.  The marina is close to Chimney Rock by water.  They sell gas, they have a huge line of boats that they sell, and also sell boating and skiing accessories.  Another big part of their business is boat storage.  You can rent a wet slip (a parking spot at a dock), but they are more expensive and rare than dry storage.  Dry storage is where they stack your boat on a huge rack inside their warehouse.  When you are ready to go, they come pick it off the rack with a forklift and put it in the water.  No matter how many times I see that it still makes me nervous.  They are adding on to the dry storage.  A company official was quoted as saying the The Ridge Marina will have the “biggest dry storage east of the Mississippi.”  That’s big, friends.

Lake Martin The Ridge Club3. The Ridge Club – Russell Lands is currently building a 9,000 square foot clubhouse called The Ridge Club.  While Willow Point has its Golf and Country Club, Willow Point residents are not necessarily members of the club, and vice versa.  In the Ridge, however, part of the homeowner association dues pays for membership to The Ridge Club.  Planned amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, athletic fields, children’s play center, workout / cardio center, and a bar and grill.  From what I hear they have commercial lots set aside for possible restaurants, etc.  See the construction progress photos on the left.  It looks like it will be as nice as promised.

4.  Off water activities- Usually, in Lake Martin new construction developments, merely token emphasis is placed on off-water lots and properties.  At The Ridge, Russell Lands attempts to offer something to do off of the water, and (I assume) by association, raise Ridge club drawing - smallthe value of off-water residential lots.  They have designed sidewalks all through the Ridge, which is very different for the lake.  They also have cut in extensive walking trails through the woods around The Ridge.  I hear that the ultimate plan is to be able to walk, run, or bike on trails from The Ridge to Willow Point.  Look at a Lake Martin map to appreciate how huge of an area that is.  They also have plans for a town center located on highway 63, close to Windermere Road, that will have kitschy shops, a high end grocery store, and a gourmet restaurant.  (I will post more news as they confirm the details.)

5.  Marketing and Events – Russell Lands has promoted The Ridge like no other Lake Martin development.  If you haven’t received at least 3 mailers on it, you should have your feelings hurt, because they sent them to everyone in the area that pays taxes and has a pulse.  They also have been all over the home design type magazines.  Their homes have had multiple spotlights in Southern Living Magazine, and had tons of other regional media attention and write ups.  They also have really played up the Spring and Summer Tour of Homes.  This spring they have even tied the events in with a boat show at The Ridge Marina.  I have to hand it to them, it works. In the past ten years Lake Martin has gone from a regional treasure to getting attention on a national level.  This was due in large part to Russell Lands’ tirele$$ promotions.

If you wonder how long this will last, check the map.  They are selling Phase III now, with (I guess) a couple more phases left up the sleeve for The Ridge.  Then it’s on to the next big thing.  Does anyone have a guess on where the next one will be?  Comment below!

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: Willow Point

Willow Point Lake Martin Real Estate logoWillow Point was the first Lake Martin neighborhood by developer Russell Lands.  After years of having only rental cabins, Russell Lands started a new era in Lake Martin real estate by developing and selling high end deeded lots in the early 1970s.

Willow Point is unique in that it is the only Russell Lands development that currently has a private golf and country club.  The Willow Point Golf and Country Club was founded in 1964.  It is truly a gated community, where you are stopped at the gate by a guard and you must show your ownership sticker or explain your business.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in the Willow Point area, CLICK HERE to go to my Willow Point Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Willow Point has a Championship Grade 18 hole, par 72 golf course that twists and turns and follows Lake Martin’s shores.  Eight holes are bordered by the Lake, and hole number 13 is a par three island green.  As you can imagine, the rest of the holes have plenty of water, too.  If your skill level is like mine, be prepared to lose some golf balls.  They also have tennis courts, rental villas for members, a restaurant, bar and grill, fitness center, and pool.  It is truly a beautiful club.

Real estate prices in Willow Point have historically been among the strongest on Lake Lake Martin Willow point real estateMartin.  Vacant lots are rare since the development is almost built out.  Lots start in the 400s and go up from there.  Residences range from town homes to the biggest home on the lake, the mammoth compound of infamous (former) HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.  If you have ever seen it by water, you know it.  It is the top attraction on the “big house” boat tour.

Willow Point has the benefit of being inside the city limits of Alexander City, which means it has all of the utilities and conveniences thereof.  This was once a huge benefit 30 years ago when almost no other area of Lake Martin had trash, phone, and cable services.  Now this is not such an advantage, but Willow Point does boast another unmatched amenity: a paved, lighted airstrip.  The Russell Airfield is 4,500 feet long, so you plane owners should know if you can land there or not.

With all of the benefits listed above, Willow Point will likely continue to have a strong position in the real estate market on Lake Martin.

Tags: , , , , , ,