[email protected]

The $60 a Month Lake Martin Power Bill

Allow me to introduce you to Lake Martin’s first waterfront Passive House.  It’s very likely you will love this Blue Creek area home simply because it is beautiful.  But it’s also a cutting edge bastion of energy savings that will use roughly 80% less energy to operate than conventional buildings.

205 Old Cemetary Road Passive House Paul Gouin - 47

How can this be?  It’s a 3 story, almost 4,000 square foot home with huge windows in a hot, Southern climate. There are 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and two great rooms to heat and cool year round.  Builder Paul Gouin and Architect Bryan Jones are Lake Martin homeowners themselves, and know well the needs and challenges of waterfront living.  What they have created is an awesome melding of science and art – all within steps of the waters of Lake Martin, I may add.

This home is for sale. It can be yours.

I’m the listing agent, so call me (334) 221-5862 or email me ([email protected]) for more information, or CLICK HERE to go to the 205 Old Cemetery Road listing page.  MLS# 13-1168.

So what does Passive House mean?  I’ll borrow from Bryan Jones’ blog article on the subject. He writes that a passive house has several areas of focus:

  • A Super Insulated Envelope
  • Thermal Bridge-Free Detailing
  • Air-Tight Envelope
  • Advanced Windows & Doors
  • Energy Recovery Ventilation (a constant ventilation system instead of a conventional HVAC system that consumes lots of energy)
  • Efficient Systems (water heaters, appliances, etc.)

Passive House diagram

I liked what Bryan had to say about why design like this is interesting to him.  I don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate some of the big ideas influencing homes like this:

“What is interesting about Passive House to us?

  • Pretty houses with real substance – Our passion is designing beautiful site specific lifetime homes for people in context with the surrounding environment.  Sustainability has always been one of our 10 principles that we use to create better homes.  Passive House takes prescriptive sustainability to another level backed by pure building science and performance testing.
  • Science not a check list – The Passive House design process uses energy modeling of our design and specifications to predict how the design will perform in a particular orientation and climate.  The model returns energy performance data to determine if the house meets Passive House Criteria.  A house designed to meet Passive House Criteria should perform up to 80% better than a typical structure. The process is not clouded by a point system checklist offered by LEED for homes and the  EarthCraft program.
  • Energy modeling provides data for long term decisions -The Passive House energy model gives us a tool to help our clients make design and material decisions knowing operating cost over time vs. the initial construction cost.
  • Measured results – Passive House designs uses a 3rd party passive house RATER to perform testing during construction and at project commissioning.  We can verify for our clients that the high performance building that they paid for is performing as designed.
  • Passive survivability – What would happen if your house had no power available?  Designing a home for as low energy usage as possible along with photovoltaic panels means you could potentially run the house “off the grid” if required by inflated energy cost or by necessity.”

Construction is nearing completion.

The home is available for showing.  If you have questions, or find this type of construction intriguing, I’d love to talk to you.  If I can’t answer all of your questions, I can hook you up with the experts. Give me a call at (334) 221-5862, email me at [email protected], or click here to contact me.

205 Old Cemetary Road Passive House - 31

IMG_5985205 Old Cemetary Road Passive House - 34IMG_5998IMG_5999Introductory video for 205 Cemetery Road on Lake Martin:

 

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Secrets of Lake Martin Brokers

Lake Martin real estate broker secretsI love the Wall Street Journal. Reading it is one of my favorite pasttimes. They have a regular section now called “Mansions” that covers real estate. On a recent Friday I was intrigued by a front page tease that read “Secrets of Top Brokers.” Naturally, as a real estate broker here at Lake Martin, I wanted in on the secrets. I flipped to page M1 and found the article, penned by Lauren Schuker Blum, titled “The Battle For the Big Deal.”

I was immediately disappointed.

The article was about the competitive nature of getting high priced listings in places like Malibu, LA, etc. It’s bottom line was that these ultra cool brokers have to battle hard to win a $40 million listing. They throw lavish parties and have in-house computer nerds to cultivate top secret databases of high rollers. Wow.

Don’t get me wrong, the article was well written and had plenty of pretty pictures. But the usability of these secrets by the average agent or even the average home seller is absolutely zero. (Who is going to spend $10,000 on a VIP house party?)

I guess I should not expect a practical article from a section of the WSJ called “Mansions.” I also can’t blame them for splashing flashy home pictures (I call it house porn) to catch the eye and entertain. I can’t help but wonder, though, what would happen if the WSJ would ask one of their talented writers, perhaps Ms. Blum, to turn their eye to the not so extraordinary. Sure, it’s easy to think of crazy ways to promote a home when Presidents have slept there and your potential commission is in the millions. What are the secrets of brokers or agents who actually sell normal homes?

Lake Martin Real Estate Secrets

I can tell you that there are no secrets for the Lake Martin real estate market, or anywhere else for that matter. If you want to sell a waterfront home, lot, or condo, you must pay attention to what I call the Holy Trinity of Real Estate:

  1. Pricing – You absolutely must price your home correctly. Yes, the market here at Lake Martin has rebounded since its low in 2008. But I don’t think we have evidence of price increases. Check my market reports and see if you agree. As a Lake Martin seller, you must price your home within 5% or 10% of what the market likes, or it will sit there. Buyers expect deals, research extensively, and can walk away. “I will price mine a little high. You can’t go up but you can always come down” you might say. I say – you can’t come down if you don’t get an offer. You won’t get an offer if you are priced too high to begin with.
  2. Marketing – You or your agent must market your Lake Martin home aggressively. A sign in the yard won’t do it anymore. Three fuzzy pictures in the MLS? Please. You have to have a full court press of well done pictures, full motion video, scads of backup information, just to stay in the conversation. You have to have a supercharged website to break through the noise and get found. In online marketing today, pretty is as pretty does. If people can’t Google it and find it, it might as well not exist. The old realtor trick of putting scant info out there so the buyer will call the agent and the agent will “sell them” on the home – is dead. Here is a modern truth – NO ONE WANTS TO TALK TO REAL ESTATE AGENTS – including me. They only call the agent on the last resort. Buyers research and research online so they don’t have to ask the agent, whom they perceive is cheesy and just out to say whatever. As an agent, I must realize that and earn trust by putting as much info online as possible. Another truth – put the marketing focus on the property. Not the agent.
  3. Staging – Staging is getting your home looking good to sell. Clean it up. Paint. Replace the rotten wood. Declutter. Depersonalize. Get all that junk out of the way that detracts from the view. People are here for Lake Martin. Don’t distract from that with petty repairable.

Are you considering selling your Lake Martin home, lot, condo, or some other property? We would love the chance to talk to you about it. We can get it done. We have the knowledge and experience to price it accurately. No other agency on Lake Martin, no matter how big, can even come close to our online marketing. The huge amount of traffic to this website are facts, not idle boasts. We can also help you stage your home to sell.

How to get started? Request a Comparable Market Analysis here or email us at info at lakemartinvoice dot com. Or call me at 334 221 5862!

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What’s Cheaper Than A Foreclosure?

Lake Martin is like most real estate markets, I guess, in that every buyer loves foreclosures. I don’t blame them. The thought of a buying a waterfront home or lot that is a heck of a deal because it’s a foreclosure is enticing.

But is it always true? Are all good deals on Lake Martin necessarily foreclosures? And are all Lake Martin foreclosures good deals? No.

The other day I was on the phone with a buyer from Florida that signed up for my waterfront foreclosure list. He was interested in looking at just about anything in his price range: lots, condos, homes, whatever. One of the foreclosures he asked to see was a condo in the Crowne Pointe condo complex, which is located off of Highway 50, kind of by Chuck’s Marina, in the Blue Creek area of Lake Martin. When I saw the price they were asking for the foreclosed condo, I thought, whoa!

Here’s a Condo That’s Cheaper than a Foreclosure

This particular condo I found was a three bed, three bath unit in Crowne Pointe that is listed for $289,000. Disclosure: it is a foreclosure, and is not my listing.

However, I was quick to let him know that I have this condo listed in Crowne Pointe, also a three bed and three bath, for $265,000. If you are interested, please click here for more information. It’s an awesome condo with its own deeded boat slip, a gigantic view, and two owners’ pools for funzies.

Yes, you read that correctly. My (civilian owned, regular seller) condo is priced $24,000 less than the foreclosure. That’s almost a 10% price difference. Why on earth would the foreclosure be listed higher than a regular sale? Who knows. Every case is different. Often, the banks must try higher prices due to the foreclosure proceeding. Sometimes banks are too big to spend a lot of time studying the market. Anyway, how would you like to be the guy bragging that he got a good deal on a foreclosure in Crowne Pointe, only to realize you paid about $24,000 too much?

This leads me to a few rules of thumb to remember:

Lake Martin Foreclosure Rules Of Thumb

  1. Just because it’s a foreclosure doesn’t automatically mean it’s the lowest priced option. See above for a glaring example.
  2. Just because it’s a foreclosure, and even if you think it’s priced well, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s a good deal. You will still need to do your due diligence to see if it makes sense relative to the rest of the market on Lake Martin.
  3. Just because it’s a foreclosure, doesn’t mean its legal woes are over. Lake Martin is located in Alabama, and here we have rights of rescission and other issues that could affect your purchase decision, to say nothing of possible property condition concerns.

If you’re interested in a waterfront Foreclosure on Lake Martin, great. Click here for my list. But be warned – getting a great deal isn’t as easy as going down the list like you were at Home Depot. I can help you learn about the market and help you focus your search so that you know a good buy when you see it. Don’t worry, the seller pays the commission, so it doesn’t cost you a dime to let me help you.

And if the Crowne Pointe condo I mentioned is still around, I would love to sell it to you!

Just contact us on this page, or at info at lakemartinvoice dot come, or John Coley at 334 221 5862 or John Christenberry at 334 398 0762.

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Shady Bay on Lake Martin: Walking the Neighborhood

Last week we at Lake Martin Voice Realty announced the release of 14 new waterfront lots for sale in Shady Bay.

Below are some pictures I took as I walked up and down these lots:

If you’re interested in Shady Bay, we invite you to walk the lots, too, but bring your bug spray and perhaps a walking stick.  These are not 100′ x 100′ feet city lots;  they’re thickly wooded with all kinds of hardwoods and pines and they slope from Amber Drive down to the water.  They are raw and untouched and ready for buyers to envision their perfect lake home.  Buyers may bring their own builder and house plans, and covered boat docks are allowed.

If you’d like more info on Shady Bay, give me a call at (334) 221-5862, email me at [email protected], or click here to fill out a contact form.  I  can help you with Shady Bay and all properties on the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of the listing company.

Here’s a quick video tour of Shady Bay:

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Shady Bay Waterfront Lots for Sale

Lake Martin Voice Realty is excited to team up with Alabama Power and offer 14 new deeded waterfront lots for sale in Shady Bay

Shady Bay is a waterfront neighborhood on the northeastern shores of Lake Martin. These are big, wooded lots with views looking south toward Young’s Island.  They’re part of an already established neighborhood (entrance sign, paved roads, utilities, HOA), and they’re close to all the in-town conveniences of Alexander City and Highway 280.

Shady Bay Plat Map Lake Martin

Lake Martin Voice Realty is proud to be the Listing Agency!

The first phase of Shady Bay began in the early 1990’s.  32 of 33 waterfront lots were sold at that time, and now 14 more are available.  There’s a lot of choice for buyers here: lots range in size from almost an acre to to 2.3 acres, and waterfront footage ranges from 130 feet to over 350 feet of shoreline per lot.

Another big perk for many buyers:  covered boat docks are allowed in Shady Bay.  That’s a big deal on Lake Martin.

Lot owners may bring their own builder and house plans in Shady Bay, and there is an 1,800 square foot minimum requirement for all homes.

Shady Bay on northeast Lake MartinShady Bay location on Lake MartinFor more information on these deeded lots, CLICK HERE, or give us a call at (334) 221-5862.  We have plat maps, tax maps, photos, a video tour – everything you need to learn the lay of the land.

Shady Bay is on the northeast side of Lake Martin, so it is convenient to Alexander City, Atlanta, Auburn, I-85, and Highway 280 By car, drive east over the Highway 280 River Bridge.  Then turn right  onto County Road 40 at Lakewinds Golf Course.  At the stop sign turn left, then take your first right on Shady Bay Drive. Then right into the Shady Bay Subdivision. Phase II lots are on Amber drive – the first right once you enter the neighborhood.

By boat, Shady Bay is 12 miles from Chimney Rock and less than a mile from Bay Pines Marina.

For a quick video introduction to Shady Bay, click below:

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Suddenly All My Videos Seem Lame

I used to think Lake Martin Voice Realty was pushing the forefront in real estate video until I saw the video below of a property in Napa from Realty World’s Christine Dwiggins.  Wow!

Sure, they had a huge budget and hired actors and a production company. But can’t I do the same thing in a small volunteer way?

Aren’t there some of my friends that would volunteer to be in my listing videos? Or local aspiring actors to tap?  So I guess the real title of this post should be, “Do my friends love me enough to act in my real estate videos?”

These are the type of videos I’m impressed with.  The production quality is great. There are a lot of agents nationwide that are working very hard to give their clients serious exposure.  I saw an interview with Christine Wiggins about this Napa video, and she said they filmed for 16 hours to get all the shots they needed.  And that was just the filming.

So I’m trying to learn from people like Christine.  Even though I’m the only Lake Martin Realtor who currently creates video tours for all listings, I can still improve.  I’ve been using video since 2007, and while some of those early clips make me cringe, I had to start somewhere.  See these 2 videos, both of the same home I sold in 2007, and again in 2012.  My narrator had clearly not discovered coffee in the  first version.  I’d like to think there has been some growth in all aspects of production.  But in 2007, the idea of a video tour seemed revolutionary.

2012 Video Tour

2007 Video Tour

Sure, it’s more work, but I truly believe video tours tell a more complete story of a property.

So who’s in for the acting gig?  Comment below and let me know if you’re available.  I pay in Lake Martin Crazy gear, but your exposure will hopefully be tremendous.  Just this past month (Dec. 26 – Jan. 24), my YouTube viewers spent 2, 363 minutes watching my real estate videos.  That is pretty strong for what is considered an off season for Lake Martin real estate.

If you’d like to see your property get exposure like this, give me a call at (334) 221-5862 or CLICK HERE to contact me and let’s talk about marketing your Lake Martin home. 

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Emerald Shores Waterfront Lots for Sale

Lake Martin Voice Realty is excited to team up with Alabama Power and offer 29 new deeded waterfront lots for sale in Emerald Shores. 

Emerald Shores is a waterfront neighborhood on the eastern shores of Lake Martin. These are big, wooded lots surrounded by the big water of Blue Creek.  They’re part of an already established neighborhood (entrance signs, roads paved, utilities, boat ramp, common area trails), and they’re close to all the east side Lake Martin restaurants, marinas, and landmarks.

Emerald Shores Sat Map

Lake Martin Voice Realty is proud to be the Listing Agency!

The first phase of Emerald Shores began in 2004.  17 lots were sold at that time, then six after that, and now 29 more are available.  There’s a lot of choice for buyers here: lots range in size from 0.6 to almost 2 acres, and waterfront footage ranges from 115 feet to over 1,000 feet of shoreline per lot.  At the center of Emerald Shores is a 17 acre wooded common area with a paved walking trail.  A neighborhood boat ramp makes it convenient to launch your boat.

Another big perk for many buyers:  covered boat docks are allowed in Emerald Shores.  That’s a big deal on Lake Martin.

Emerald Shores Plat Map RevisedFor more information on these deeded lots, CLICK HERE, or give us a call at (334) 221-5862.  We have plat maps, tax maps, photos, a video tour – everything you need to learn the lay of the land.

Emerald Shores is on the east side of Lake Martin, so it is convenient to Atlanta, Auburn, I-85, and Highway 280 By car, take Highway 49 and turn onto Highway 34.  Turn left onto Win Blu. At the stop sign, turn left onto Holiday Drive.  Take 1st right onto South Holiday.  Follow all the way to Emerald Shores entrance.  By boat, it’s on the north side of Blue Creek as you drive toward StillWaters.

For a quick video introduction to Emerald Shores, click below:

And for a video tour of the Blue Creek area, click below:

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2012 Lake Martin Home Sales Resemble 2006

Lake Martin waterfront home sales look a lot like 2006. That may catch you by surprise if you follow the real estate market merely in general and think that every market is suffering right now. Other real estate markets around the country my still be reeling, but not for lakefront property sold at Lake Martin, Alabama.

November 2012 waterfront home sales on Lake Martin show us that right now our market is a lot closer to 2006 than 2011.

November 2012 Shows Strong Sales

Lake Martin had a good November and a great October in waterfront real estate sales. The number of homes sold during October was 21, which was the best October since 2005. November posted a good sales amount of 10, equaling many months as the best since 2006.

The above chart shows that 2012 has consistently beat the prior years in almost every month this year. I pulled these sales numbers from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors’ MLS* on December 10.

2012 Year to Date Waterfront Home Sales

Through November, 222 waterfront homes have been sold through the Lake Martin MLS. A quick glace at the below chart, which gives you the cumulative results, easily shows you that 2012 has been the best market since 2008. In fact, if I had gone back far enough, you could see that it was the best since 2006.

Please see the below property sales results for Lake Martin in numerical form. I went back to show, month by month, how the banner years of 2005 and 2006 looked.

If we see a typical December sales amount of say, five homes, that will put Lake Martin at 227 for the year. Very nice.

When compared to last year’s total homes sold of 207, we see that the estimated 227 would be 9.6% above last year. If we look at our estimation versus 2006’s actual total of 235, the eight homes’ difference computes to 3.4% below that year.

That’s why I am saying that 2012’s real estate market on Lake Martin resembles 2006 much more closely than it does 2011. That should be good news for people looking for a confirmation of a comeback, and even those who recognize our market’s comeback yet fear a backslide, or double dip.

Never Is a Strong Word

When the real estate market around the nation was going through the correction in 2007 and 2008, it always rankled me to hear people, from the so-called experts to the armchair economists, proclaim that real estate values had “never fallen this fast.” Even more irritating to me is when folks say “sales will never get back to where they were at the peak.”

“Incorrect,” I say very simply, “incorrect.”

Never is a strong word and you had better have a lot of proof when you use it. It is very foolish, in my opinion, to utter sweeping macroeconomic statements like “the real estate market will never get back to where it was in the peak.” If this people meant the numbers of homes sold, well, I can tell you by pointing at the numbers, we are equal (materially) with 2006 right now. Value wise, we are still below the prices that were paid back then, but it’s only a matter of time, at this pace, that we will catch up.

I might note, I was equally critical of the bullish statements in 2005, 2006, and 2007 when people said real estate would “never crash like it did in the 1970s.”

There is nothing new under the sun.

Note: Once again I have failed to post my market reports column that I wrote for Lake Magazine. Sorry about that. Here’s a link to the report I wrote on Lake Magazine’s November 2012 issue where I analyzed home sales statistics through September 30, 2012:

The Numbers Are In

Lake Magazine (for some strange reason) did not publish the graphs I gave them to use in the print edition when they put it on their site. No worries, just refer to those above.

Related Posts:

Debunking The Labor Day Price Drop Myth
July Sales Cool
Lake Martin Lot Sales 2011

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2011 – Year In Review

Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010 – Lot Sales
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2010
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2009 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2008 – Year In Review
Lake Martin Real Estate Sales 2007 – Year In Review

All Lake Martin Market Reports

(*)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 waterfront sales on Lake Martin, Alabama.

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Year Round, This Trillium Room Says, “Unwind”

Another favorite image from a LakeMartinVoice active listing  . . . This time it’s 600 Trillium West Parkway on Lake Martin.  This is the house I like to call the Garden and Gun home – a great mix of rustic and sophisticated on an awesome lot in Trillium.

We also just happened to have a huge price drop on this home.  We just dropped the price $75,000 to $1,075,000.  Someone will take advantage of this new price and get a great deal on this very cool home.  If it sounds good to you, or anyone you know, please give me a call (334) 221-5862.

This image is the corner glass porch, lakeside, where the view of the sunset over Little Kowaliga is amazing.  I cheated on the single image concept and added the actual sunset picture for you to admire as well.  This unique room is as close as you can get to being outside while still comfortably indoors.  Warm and cozy in the winter, air conditioned and humidity-free in warmer months.

CLICK HERE to see all the pictures and info for this listing, as well as the VIDEO TOUR of the property.

To learn more about Trillium, the Russel Lands gated development that this home is a part of,  CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to know more about Lake Martin real estate, give me a call at (334) 221-5862, or click here to contact me anytime.  I can help you with any property in the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of who has it listed.  I’d love to help you find your sunset view, too.

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Book Nook on Lake Martin’s Parker Creek

 As the weather turns cooler  around Lake Martin, I think about time spent by the fireplace (or fire pit), and reading a good book.  The picture above is from a waterfront home I have for sale in the Parker Creek area of Lake Martin at 128 Orchid Drive.

This is an upstairs loft that’s currently used as an office, and they found a way to tuck a bookcase and reading nook into this cozy space.  This loft really caught my imagination;  I love that you can see outside through the great room windows, but still be cloistered away from the hubbub.  I bet you can hear the fire crackle in the great room fireplace from here, too!

If you’d like to see ALL the pictures and listing information for this four bedroom, three bath home, CLICK HERE.

And click on the following link for the VIDEO TOUR128 Orchid Drive in Parker Creek on Lake Martin

This home makes it easy to live year round at Lake Martin.  I’d love to show it to you, so call me at (334) 221-5862 or click here to contact me and we’ll make it happen.  I can help you with any home in the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of who has it listed.

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