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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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Take The Road Less Traveled

Recently around Lake Martin (online and offline) I have heard a lot of talk about eating at the lake. Some were bemoaning a lack of restaurants, others were extolling the virtues of cooking at home.

Still others admitted wanting someone else to do the cooking, but when they get down to their Lake Martin home on Friday night, they’re too tired to go out.

One solution is eating some of the great cooking from a local – The Dirt Road Gourmet. They pre-make casseroles and such, freeze them, and sell them through local retailers. Click here for their website and product list. Also you can click here for their list of retailers.

I pick ours up from Nail’s because it’s close to my real estate office and family’s cabin. They are really good, and really easy. Before you leave for the weekend, buy one, keep it in the freezer. The next Friday, when you get back down to the lake home, pop it in the oven while you’re unloading, it’ll be ready to eat when you are.

I highly recommend the Dirt Road Gourmet as a balance between fixing it yourself and going out. Plus, you can feel good about supporting a local business.

The Dirt Road Gourmet

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Amenities Of The Ridge, Lake Martin

For the most current information on The Ridge on Lake Martin, click on The Ridge Neighborhood Tour on Lake Martin.

The article that follows is fine, but it’s just old.  The above link will take you to a history of The Ridge, a video tour by car and by boat, PLUS a list current homes for sale in The Ridge.  Much more timely.

From 2008 . . .

I am working with a couple of buyers in The Ridge, a Russell Lands development in Lake Martin. I always get asked lots of questions about the amenities at the Ridge, so I thought I would shoot a video to show some of them.

Basically, if you own a home, a lot, or a town-home in the Ridge, you have the right to access all of the amenities, like the pool, the Ridge Club, the tennis courts, walking trails, boat launch, and Beach Club. The Ridge Marina is public, but of course easily accessed by Ridge owners.

Here is the video:

I should have shot more footage of all the walking trails and sidewalks of the Ridge, a lot of people like to use them. Maybe it’s material for a future video.

Properties for sale in The Ledges at The Ridge:

276 Ledges Trail (click here for property description)

here is a video tour of the townhome:

Related Posts:Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: The Ridge
Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: The Ridge Update

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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

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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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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

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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 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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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

 

 

 

 

   

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 lake martin waterfront lots

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Does Your Lake Martin Home Need Botox?

When it comes to architecture, I don’t know rococo from romanesque. The Lake Martin Voice welcomes guest writer Amy Stoyles to help us all learn about the finer points of home design.  Thanks Amy!!!

Does Your Lake Martin Home Need Botox?

Botox home

Okay, so since the holidays we’ve all been working on those New Year’s resolutions… and I’m not talking about losing those last five pounds.

Rather, it’s those things you want to change about your Lake Martin home – the kitchen that’s too small, the back porch you always wanted, the master bathroom suite with a super sized shower.

And, for the same reasons people hire personal trainers to finally get over that plateau, I have to break it to you – it’s time to hire an Architect.

I can hear the excuses already. While there can be some small truth to all of the following, running an idea by an Architect, even just through a quick phone call, can make a huge difference in your project’s success.

1.  Architects Are Too Expensive

Yes, Architects can be expensive. But you would be surprised how much they can save you. Architects can take into account new products and building methods that save you money. A good Architect will keep the massing, the overall shape of the structure or addition, simple. That means you save money on the basics and allows you to splurge on the noticeable details that make your home really special – trim work, cabinets and exposed rafter tails that make the house shine.  No one ever complimented anyone on the complexity of their roofline, but everyone notices if you have gorgeous custom cabinets. Those things are vitally important on a renovation or expansion job where new features need to match with the existing structure.

2.  My Lake Home Project Is Too Small For An Architect

As for the idea that a renovation job is too small for an Architect – well, there are timesSmall house when a job is so straightforward that a homeowner is best just getting a contractor to do it. But 9 times out of 10, even the simplest additions can involve complex problems, like:

• ensuring against water leaks when dealing with rooflines,
• recommending the best products for new windows, doors, and materials,
• stabilizing additions so they do not sink or settle at a different rate than the existing structure, and more.

3.  Staying in Budget

Rule No 1: When your budget is important to you, tell your Architect.

Use your Architect to help you stay in budget by creating a team between yourself, the Architect and a Contractor. Have the Contractor review drawings throughout their creation – this allows everyone to stay on the same page when it comes to dollar signs.

4.  Why not just use the Contractor?

As I said before, there are times when this is the best route. But what the heck, call an Architect and see what they say. If the project really is that easy, they will let you know. All you will have lost is the time of a quick phone call and most times an Architect can help recommend reliable contractors at the same time to help you get started down your new path.

Amy Stoyles is co-founder and partner of Archiscapes, LLC an architecture firm with offices in Alabama and Florida. www.archiscapes.com

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