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The Crowne Pointe Effect

Crowne Pointe is a 90 unit waterfront condominium complex on Lake Martin.  It is off of Centerport Road, along Highway 50, on the south eastern side of the lake.  Its sales history offers a interesting look into the waterfront real estate market on Lake Martin.

Earlier this year, the lending bank took over ownership of Crowne Pointe from the developer.  When they did, they still had about (my wild guess) 3.5 of the 5 buildings’ worth of units to sell and close.  In order to sell the units, they slashed the asking prices from $599,000 to $319,000.

The result:  they are selling quickly.

As a matter of fact, the Lake Martin market as a whole is doing relatively well.  As I have documented, July and June were great months.

A natural question is, how much are Lake Martin sales being influenced by Crowne Pointe sales?

To answer the question, I took a look at the percentage of closed sales in the Lake Martin MLS that were condos or town homes this year, and compared that to prior years.  Here is what I found:

So far this year, from Jan. 1 2009 – July 31, 2009 – 36% of sales have been condos or town homes. Compare this to 12% in 2006, 27% in 2007, and 17% in 2008. If you average all three years, condos and town homes account for 18% of waterfront sales on Lake Martin.

Conclusion: Yes.  At double the normal condo / town home rate, Crowne Pointe is having a huge, statistically significant impact on 2009 sales on Lake Martin.

Another question: Is Crowne Pointe solely responsible for the upswing in sales this summer at Lake Martin?  I think not. Look at it this way:

If you look at all waterfront sales in the Lake Martin MLS from 1-1-2006 to 7-31-2009 – you get 634 sales.  132, or 21% of them are condos or town homes.  That means that this year we have 15% more than the three and a half year average.  If you removed that 15% from 105 total sales in 2009 through July 31, you are still at 90 sales, which is way more than the 72 that were sold through July 2008.

Remove The Crowne Pointe Effect, and 2009 is still a winner.  Leave it in, and 2009 is a strong winner.

(*)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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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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Lake Martin Waterfront Property Sales Jump In June

Lake Martin waterfront real estate sales had another great month in June 2009.  Defying most national trends, we have seen a modest rally this summer at Lake Martin.

According to the Lake Martin MLS (comprised of all Lake Martin realty offices, brokers, and agents), 24 waterfront homes and condos sold and closed in the month of June 2009.  This is the best month of sales since March of 2007, when we sold 25.

We also DECIMATED June 2008 – when only 7 sold.  I guess my headline could have read:

LAKE MARTIN SALES UP 342%

While it’s accurate, it is not very intellectually honest to focus on one month, I think.

The recent sales trend is even more impressive (statistically) to me to look at the above graph, which shows total sales for the year to date.  Through June 30, we have sold 77 homes on Lake Martin in 2009, as opposed to only 57 in January – June 2008.  That’s a 35% increase!  To me, that is significant.

We Lake Martin realtors are on track to sell more homes in 2009 that we did in 2008.  Will we beat 2007?  I think we have a decent chance.  Will we beat 2006’s total of 235?  Doubtful. But to put the current month’s sales of 24 in perspective, the most waterfront homes that have ever sold (as far as I can tell) was 37 – and that came in the seller’s market peak year of 2005, in April.

mls-sales-by-month-2004-2008

((Sidebar: Study the above MLS sales history for Lake Martin.  How many people do you think realized in 2004 that they were experiencing the second best waterfront sales market, and that 2005 would be the peak? Not me.  By the time we figured out how “hot” the Lake Martin market was, it was 2006, and already headed down.  How long will it take for us to properly interpret 2008?))

So what’s selling?

2009-06 ytd breakdown of 09 and 08 sales by price thru june

A natural question. I think the above chart shows us that in 2009 the Lake Martin sales are slightly more heavily weighted at lower prices, with the bulk at $200k – $399k.

The Crowne Pointe Effect

The Crowne Pointe condos have been selling well this summer. In fact I have been and am helping several buyers here (disclosure, I’m not the listing agent, ERA Lake Martin Realty is).

Have these condo sales unfairly inflated 2009’s numbers?

Not really. Through June 30, 2009, only about 29% of the waterfront sales on Lake Martin were condos as compared to 21% last year. However I do think that July 2009’s numbers will be affected by Crowne Pointe sales. Give them credit, Crowne Pointe is a great example of a seller that has adjusted their price and the market has reacted. Sure, current sales prices are half of what was offered at the peak, and people that paid over $500,000 for one might be wistful. But buyers of 2 bedroom units for $199,000 and 3 bedrooms for $319,000 are snapping them up.

My advice is to make your move now on Crowne Pointe, call me if you are interested.

Looking Forward

I predict that Lake Martin real estate sales will be strong again in July 2009, judging by what has already closed at this writing, and knowing what will close in this month.  Every month we have of strong sales increases my confidence that we might be at the bottom, and looking up.

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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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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Calling All Tigers – ex Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville’s Lake Martin Home For Sale

lake martin home sale tuberville tommy auburn

Why not buy tommy tuberville's lake martin home?

Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville is selling his waterfront Lake Martin home for $2.375 million.

Whether he resigned or was asked to resign, it really doesn’t matter.

In a sign of the times, I learned about this sale not from the newspaper, not from the radio, not even from the grapevine.  I read it on a blog post from a blog that covers SEC sports. I am not the listing agent.  My friend Toni Adcock is.  She graciously allowed me to write about her listing. (but I expect a repay, Toni! Ha!)

The home is located in the Marina Marin development on Lake Martin.  Its address is 656 Marin Parkway.  It is located off of highway 50, near Martin Dam and Chimney Rock.  Incidentally, Marina Marin was originally developed by deposed HealthSouth exec Richard Scrushy.  Not that it is at all related to Tuberville’s home.  I just throw that out there FYI.

The details:

According to the listing agent, it is priced at $2,375,000, the home as 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and 2 half baths.  It is 5,859 square feet and site on 2.89 acres in Marina Marin.  It is a point lot, with a whopping 730 +/- feet of waterfront.  As you can imagine, it has about every upgrade known to man, both inside and outside.

Toni is having an open house for Realtors next week, and I plan to be in attendance.  I will post pictures and video of that if it is OK with her.

Come to think of it, Coach Tubs is supposed to be a pretty good cook.  I wonder if he will be frying up some catfish for the attendees?

As a member of the Lake Martin MLS, of course I can help any buyer that is interested in this (or any other) Lake Martin home. So if you are interested, please let me help you.  Just call or email me at the info at the top of this page, or fill out this contact form.

UPDATE: Click here for the video home tour of The Coach’s home on Lake Martin.

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Video Tour Of The Ridge – Beach Park, Ridge Trails

Since I have a waterfront lot listed for sale in Lake Martin’s The Ridge, I get a lot of questions about the various amenities of the Ridge. One of the huge benefits to owning a waterfront home or town home in the Ridge is access to all of the “stuff.”

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.

Though I have been in the neighborhood countless times, I had never been by road to The Ridge’s Beach Park before yesterday.  It was really nice, it has a big covered pavilion, changing / rest rooms, and, of course, a big beach.  The water view is of Lake Martin icons Chimney and Acapulco Rock Islands.

While I was there, I also hiked a bit on some Ridge Trails (download a map). The developer, Russell Lands, has done a really nice job about incorporating off the water features here.  There are tons of mulch lined trails through the woods, that explore common areas and various other parks in the Ridge.

One example is Red Oak Trail and Hickory Hill Trail, I took these down to Hidden Park.  Hidden Park has its own gazebo, boardwalk, and fishing pier.  It was really nice and peaceful.  Now that the leaves are down, you can sit up on the gazebo and get a nice view of woods and water of Lake Martin.

If trail hiking is not your thing, you can stick to the sidewalks.  There are many of those around The Ridge, too.  Check out my video of the morning:

For an updated 2011 Ridge Video Tour, see below:

If you are interested, see my listing info for Lot 72 The Ridge.

Related Posts:

The Ridge Amenities Video Tour
Lake Martin Voice Neighborhood Spotlight: The Ridge

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Another Broker Told Me “Your Price Is Too High”

One of my listings for sale is 302 Villas On The Harbor, a 1 bed 1 bath condo in Lake Martin’s Stillwaters Community.  The Villas On The Harbor sits right next door to Harbor Pointe Marina, and Harbor Pointe Condos.

I got a challenging email the other day from Ron Botterbusch, Broker of RB Commercial Properties in Montgomery.  He said:

“I read your Lake Martin Voice from time to time and enjoy your insights and
“take” on things.  I sometimes browse your listings and today I viewed the
above and was curious about your statement “at a price that makes sense”.
$304.95 per square foot for a 1/1 condo??? Wow, even with a boat slip, that
price seems sky high.
If you sell it for anywhere near that amount there
is reason to be optimistic…good luck!”

<<Here is the video tour>>

Here was my response:

Hey Ron- thanks for the email and the kind words.  You may have read elsewhere on my blog that I almost never pay attention to per square foot pricing on the Lake Martin.  Too much of the value of a property is in the lot.  Big exception – condos.

Even then, I am careful to compare condo to condo, because a lot of them have different amenities.  As to the condo pricing in this case – you’re right, at PSF level, it looks a bit high.  When pricing things, I advise sellers to place their price based on SOLD properties, not what is for sale, or what they are hoping to get.

Another 1/1 unit in there recently sold for about 170k.  This particular unit is being sold with a deep water boat slip.  (I say deep water because it had plenty of water left at the height (or valley??) of the drought.)  Anyway Harbor Pointe is selling boat slips (some of which do NOT have year round water) for around $40k. So that’s why I think that price makes sense.  Plus at Villas on the Harbor, you can rent out the unit and make a little money to dampen the total ownership expense.

Again, taken at a PSF perspective, I agree, it may seem high.  But where else on Lake Martin are you going to get a waterfront property for the low 200s?

Hey – do you mind if I use this email as an “ask the broker” post like this one I did a couple of weeks ago?  I can use your name or you can remain anonymous.  I think your question is a great one and could spark a lot of discussion.

What do you say?

Ron: “Feel free to use my name and thanks for the reply.  I’ll be famous!”

Thank you, Ron, for the great question.  I must admit, it made me triple check my numbers!

What do you think, reader? Am I crazy? Despite everything, I think there is value here.  Reply and comment below to let add your voice to the topic.

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Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: Trillium

lake martin real estate Trillium

Trillium, one of Russell Lands’ more mature Lake Martin developments, is located just west of Kowaliga Marina.  Along with Willow Point and The Ridge, Trillium has some of the more high end homes on Lake Martin.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in Trillium, CLICK HERE to go to my Trillium 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.

Trillium was one of Russell Lands’ first neighborhoods that were completed in different phases.  The first homes were built there around 1989.  One element that was new to Lake Martin at the time was Russell Lands’ use of causeway construction.

Years of erosion on Lake Martin had made islands out of former peninsula.  Russell Lands poured a lot of money in the construction of causeways to bring paved roads and utilities, thereby rescuing millions of dollars of real estate.  I can remember one such “island” on the first phase.  It was divided into four huge lots and priced at $250,000 each.  It was laughingly dubbed “million dollar island” by hordes of us skeptical locals.  We pondered “what fool would pay that much for one lot?” Eighteen years later, that amount will barely buy you any sort of waterfront lot, much less a showcase one like those on the points at Trillium.  Turns out that we were the fools for not realizing the demand that would spur a long bull run for Lake Martin property.  Lots like those would now cost you 10 times that amount if you could buy them at all.

By my unofficial count, there are 213 waterfront lots in all of Trillium.  As of this writing, there are 8 homes and 4 lots for sale in Trillium in the Lake Martin MLS If you would like any information on them, give me a call or email me.

trillium homes for sale

Amenities:

Trillium does not have a clubhouse.  It does have a guardhouse protecting the lone entry, but I have never seen a guard there.  I suppose they could put someone there in the future if they wanted.

Because Trillium doesn’t have a clubhouse, it does not have any related things like a pool or workout center or anything.  They do have some walking trails that are cut through the non-waterfront woods.

Lot types:

Waterfront lots in Trillium are flat.  Just as many of the lots in The Ridge (link) are sloped, Trillium’s overall topography almost guarantees that each one of its lots are flat.

Generally, the lots are also big (for Lake Martin) and deep, sitting far back from the roadways.  Trillium’s lots are also well covered with tall, mature pines.

There are no interior lots or homes.  All homes in Trillium are waterfront.  Who knows, maybe one day Russell Lands will sell off the interior land.  Right now, they have retained fairly large sections of woods in between the phases to give Trillium a beautiful, woodsy, private feel.

Factoids:

Back in the heyday of “Russell cabins” Mrs. Edith Russell used to have a couple of cabins at the end of Pine Point.  Apparently she was a fan of the trillium, a pretty, symbolic wildflower native to this part of Alabama.  Hence the name of the subdivision and its types the names of many of its streets: Wake Robin, Nodding, Grandiflorium, Underwood, Catesby, and Narrowleaf.

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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!

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Lake Martin Home Prices Not Affected By Sales Drop?

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

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

Two main stats stuck out to me:

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

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

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

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

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