5 Mistakes When Buying Real Estate On Lake Martin

Lake Martin House in waterIt’s easy to make mistakes when buying a home or lot on Lake Martin. Whether you are a wizened real estate pro or a newcomer looking for your first property, there are some pitfalls that everyone needs to avoid. Heck, you could say that about anywhere, though, because real estate is such a local thing. I make my living selling real estate in the Lake Martin area, but if you dropped me off in Craig, Colorado, or Nicholasville, Kentucky, I would be just as lost and in need of local advice as the next guy. Here are 5 mistakes that you can avoid on Lake Martin (no particular order of importance):

1. Don’t waste your time calculating price per square foot of waterfront homes. As a former math major and current recovering accountant, I struggle to ignore this siren call every day of my life. I want so badly to have a piece of data like this to graph, make bar charts, build trend analysis, and otherwise calculate to the fifth decimal point. Alas, it is useless. So much of the market value of a Lake Martin waterfront home is in the lot, not the home. The lot drives the price, and very few lots on the lake are exactly the same. Even when the lots are pretty comparable, the homes are different, even on the same street. Yuppies in McMansions sit next to rasslin fans in shacks. Even in neighborhoods of similar construction, the lot drives the price.

2. Calculating price per waterfront foot of a lot is almost as useless. Well okay, you say, since on Lake Martin the lot drives the price, why can’t we value a lot by comparing it to other lots that have sold and divide sold prices by the amount of feet of waterfront they had? Nice try, but this still will trip you up. You can apply rules of thumb, such as, anything over 200 feet on a point lot should be priced at a premium, but you still have variables Lake Martin Math frustrationsuch as view, steepness of lot, etc. If you have a swampy 300 foot lot in the back of a cove that is on 1 foot deep water and the neighbor’s dock is 3 feet from yours, it will sell for much less than a gently sloping, 200 foot lot with a “big water view and a sandy beach. Try to graph that relationship; I dare you. I have tried and failed. I am considering creating a prestigious prize to challenge the nerd community, maybe they can come up with one.

3. You bought the house but you don’t own the lot underneath it. In most cases, when you buy a home on the lake, it is on a deeded lot. But, some homes on Lake Martin are built on leased lots. That means you own the home and all other improvements on the property, but Alabama Power owns the dirt. You lease it from them and pay them a monthly lease fee. When you buy the home you assume the terms of the lease that the previous owner negotiated with Alabama Power. Monthly lease rates and terms vary widely. Have an attorney check the lease before you buy. All other things being equal, a house on a deeded lot is worth more than the same one on a leased lot.

4. You take time to think about it. Contrary to a lot of other second home markets in the South, Lake Martin is still a sellers’ market. Sure, some sellers put ridiculous prices on their homes and therefore they take a while to sell. But if it is priced right, property still moves in a matter of days, not weeks. I’m not advising running out and buying willy-nilly, no. Let a local real estate agent help you. Do all of your research very carefully so that you know exactly what you want and how much you would like to invest. That way when something pops up on the Lake Martin MLS that you like, you can move swiftly and with confidence. Once you decide to offer, do it fast.

5. You don’t make an offer because the seller is asking too much. Lake Martin real estate Howling ape regretfulAs I mentioned above, Lake Martin is in a sellers’ market right now, but sometimes things are still overpriced. I advise buyers to make an offer based on what they would pay. You never know, sometimes the seller will come to their senses and back off a ridiculous asking price. Maybe your offer will finally convince the seller to come down. Too many times I have heard buyers say, once discovering the selling price of a property they liked, “if I would have known they would have taken that, I would have bought it. The only way to find out is to pony up and make an offer.

Can you think of any other mistakes people make? Leave a comment below, and we will edit this article to include your submission!

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Jazz Fest 2007 at the Lake Martin Amphitheater

Lake Martin Jazz fest band The Jazz Fest– the Lake Martin area annual music festival that is free to the public – has been scheduled for Friday June 8th and Saturday June 9th, 2007.  Mark your calendars and plan to be in the area, because, as always, some great bands will be on hand to entertain you.

The music on Friday night will be held under the stars in downtown Alex CitySaturday night it will be at the Lake Martin Amphitheater just south of the Kowaliga Bridge on AL Highway 63.  I’m giving you plenty of notice so that you Lake Martin Jazz Fest Drumswon’t miss the biggest area concert event of the year.  It’s a BYOB event, so you won’t get stuck buying a 12 ounce cup of beer for $12, but it is also BYO common sense, so please drink responsibly.Lake Martin trumpet

Just because the admission is free doesn’t mean that the music stinks. In fact the Jazz Fest has a reputation for booking folks just before they make it big.  I am on the Jazz Fest Committee this year and you can be assured that this year will be no exception.  I will post the lineup here as soon as they have it booked.  Last year they had bands like Tinsley Ellis, the Subdudes, Marc Broussard, and the Deadstring Brothers in the lineup.

In prior years such names as Los Lonely Boys, The Derek Trucks Band, bluesman Taj Mahal, Bela Fleck and the FlecktonesDickey Betts, the Radiators, and Dr. John have made the event a must do for anyone in the Lake Martin area.

If you would like to help the event remain free (read … donate and become a sponsor) you can either go through the contacts on the Jazz Fest web site or you can contact me.  If you just want to enjoy the music, great, I will see you there!

BONUS TIPThe Derek Trucks Band– is scheduled to play again at the Lake Martin Derek trucks at Lake MartinAmphitheater on Memorial Day weekend, Sunday May 27, 2007.  Gates open at 4:30 PM, but you’ll have to pay to see this show.  I’ll post ticket details as soon as they come available.

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