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Patience is Helpful in Lake Martin Property Search

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Some Lake Martin buyers know what they want right out of the gate, either because they have been visiting Lake Martin for many years, or because they know specifically what they want in a vacation home.  Other buyers might be new to Lake Martin or may need some help clarifying exactly how they would use a waterfront home.  Or both.

For the second group, I think that Ken and Judy have really good advice – to be patient and allow yourself time to find what you really want.  They knew where they wanted to be geographically, but took their time and ended up finding the home that fit their needs best.

It is not unusual for me to work with buyers for months, and sometimes even years, in order to find that perfect property.  If you’re just getting started with your search, or you’ve been at it for years, give me a call (334) 221-5862.  I’d love to walk with you through the journey.  And I’d love to celebrate with you and film YOUR testimonial video from the dock of your new lake home!

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Debunking the Labor Day Price Drop Myth

I am proud to be a monthly contributing writer to Lake Magazine. I have been writing for them for a little over a year now, and I have really enjoyed it. One unexpected result is that I tend to write about Lake Martin real estate market reports on there a little more than I suspected, which could mean that some readers here might miss them.

Once such example is an article I wrote for the September issue of Lake, where I studied the question:

Do sellers of Lake Martin waterfront homes drop their prices after Labor Day?

I hear that question a lot this time of year and I always say, not necessarily.  If you would like to read the entire article, please click here for a link to it at Lake Magazine.

The most surprising thing to me when I wrote it was the overall rising trend in sales price to list price over the last three years.  I would like to think that this is due to a couple of factors:

1. More accurate pricing from Lake Martin realtors – Sometimes I wonder exactly where agents are coming up with their pricing for lake homes or lots. I have certainly missed my share of estimations over the years, but I do have to scratch my head sometimes when I see listings that I believe are twenty and thirty percent over priced. Maybe they know something I don’t. But one interpretation of this chart to me is that listing agents are getting more accurate to begin with when they and the seller agree on a listing price.

2. Strengthening prices in waterfront homes? Traditionally, the sales price divided by list price statistic is oft quoted by economists as an indicator of the strength of any real estate market. I do not – I repeat do not – think the above is a sign that home prices have risen. In fact, this post of market reports shows you I think prices were steady in 2010 and 2011. But I do think it is a positive sign.  I really look forward to January or February when I run the same sets of calculations for 2012.

 

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A Reader Asks About Lake Martin Lot Leases

I have often said that I get my best blog ideas from readers of this blog and from the people I help serve in Lake Martin real estate. Today’s topic is no exception.

Shortly after I wrote this post about Alabama Power updating their waterfront lot leases to 35 years, I had a reader email me and ask me a really good question:

Reader:

I am about ten years into my lot lease from Alabama Power. I read about their new 35 year fixed term leases. Will they send me a new lease or do I need to contact them and ask for one?

My answer:

You need to call them. To my knowledge, they have not contacted any current waterfront lot lease owners and let them know this. If you would like to learn about your options, you had better call or write them. Don’t expect them to call you.

How to contact Alabama Power:

If you want information from AL Power, please don’t call me, I am just a humble real estate agent. Call the Alabama Power office in Clanton at 205-257-4593.While you have them on the phone, ask them about other news in the area of leased lots on Lake Martin. You might be surprised with the answer.

Would you like to buy a waterfront home on Lake Martin that’s on a leased lot? 128 Orchid Drive is a good one, click here for more info.

If you own a leased lot home on Lake Martin, and wonder what these changes like these might do to its value, please request a CMA on this form or click here to contact me.

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July Sales Cool On Lake Martin

July waterfront home sales on Lake Martin, Alabama, saw a dip as compared to last year.  In July of 2012, 20 waterfront homes were sold on Lake Martin, whereas in July 2011, 26 sold.

If you have been around Lake Martin this summer, you know that we have had some hot and dry weather. But if you have been searching for a home and watching the market, apparently that did not translate into hot home sales for July. When I am judging any month’s sales numbers, I always compare it to the same month of the previous year.  So far, 2012 has been pretty consistently beating 2011.  There was a slight stumble in April, however. But the next month, the sales came roaring back with a May that crushed any previous month since 2006.

Even though Lake Martin had a weak July, for the year, we are still ahead of the previous year. Through July in 2011, there were 129 waterfront homes sold. This year there are 137 sold. I don’t think it’s time to hit the panic button quite yet.

Also, we need to remember May. We had a huge comeback in May 2012 after a lackluster April. Will this happen again in August? We can take some clues from how many sales are pending in the Lake Martin MLS right now.  At this writing, there are 37 waterfront home sales pending, and we’re in the middle of the month.

August Savior?

It’s my theory that we will have a huge August, and will correct the tepid July.  I think the Lake Martin real estate market will continue to pace above last year. I base this on the sheer momentum of sales going on right now, and the fact that in a small market like ours you sometimes have swings month to month in sales.

Related Posts:

June Home Sales Jump
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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June Home Sales Jump at Lake Martin

The waterfront real estate market on Lake Martin, Alabama, continued its hot streak into June.  Twenty three homes were sold in June of 2012, versus 22 in June of 2011.

Last week I was doing some macro economic type research for a buyer that was interested in a home in the Preserve at Stoney Ridge.  He asked me how waterfront home sales on Lake Martin looked so far this year, and I responded that I thought we had a really good chance to have a spectacular year, one that may even rival 2006. Lake Martin real estate sales are definitely tracking to beat last year, a widely viewed indicator of market health.

According to the Lake Martin MLS*, the twenty three homes that were sold in June 2012 brings this year’s total to 116.  That is well above the 103 that 2011 had through June, and certainly the 91 in 2010.  In fact, we must go back to 2006’s total of 153 through June to see a competitor for this year’s pace.

Speaking of pace, it is only going to get faster when I report July 2012 sales. Judging from the number of homes that have already closed in the MLS for July, and then adding in some that might have actually closed but the agent has not changed their status yet, I think July 2012 will easily beat July 2011.

Then you can add in to the numbers some anecdotal evidence: everyone is busy.  Realtors will always tell you they are busy, of course.  But when I ask people like closing attorneys and home inspectors, and they tell me that they are over scheduled – I pay attention.

A Word On Status In The Lake Martin MLS

Many, many of the readers of this blog use the home search function (link at the top of the page) to constantly look around Lake Martin for a waterfront home, lot, or condo. I am super proud to be a major source of data for thousands of visitors to my site.

I often am asked,

Q: What does the “status” field mean in the Lake Martin MLS?

A: In the Lake Martin MLS, any time you look up the detailed info for a waterfront property for sale, it gives you one of these possible status indicators: 1.Active, 2. Cancelled, 3. Closed, 4. Expired, 5. Pending, or 6. Withdrawn. Here are my lay definitions of each:

  1. Active – this property is “For Sale” right now. Wide open.
  2. Cancelled – this property has been taken off of the market permanently. (At least until the seller decides to use another Lake Martin agent).
  3. Closed – sold – an offer has been made, accepted, contingencies worked out – and the sale has closed and ownership has changed hands. When I am trying to help sellers get an idea of what their property may be worth, I only consider “Closed” properties.
  4. Expired – this property did not sell during the listing period, and the listing has expired. No longer Active.
  5. Pending – Pending means that a buyer and seller have come to a written agreement on a contract to sell the property, but they are still in the period before closing when things like home inspections and title work are being done.
  6. Withdrawn – kind of like Cancelled but it could be a temporary thing. I think in our MLS an agent can take a property off of the Withdrawn list and re-activate it, but not so for Cancelled. To be honest, I am not sure why we have both Withdrawn and Cancelled.

I hope this helps in your search of the Lake Martin MLS. For more help on how to effectively search for your waterfront property on Lake Martin, feel free to call me at 334-221-5862 or by a contact form by clicking here or click here to go watch video tutorials I made about how to search.

 

Related Posts:

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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Spotted: A Lake Martin House Flipper

The following is an article I wrote for LAKE Magazine’s July 2012 edition:

I have always been a nerd. My genes dictate it.  In high school I was in all of the nerdy clubs: Don’t think Olympic sports; think Science Olympiad.

House flipper identifiedNow that I am in my adult years, this nerdliness is coming out in all kinds of ways. I guess one of the dorkiest hobbies I have is “birding.” I have tried to stay in the closet about this one for years, but I have reached the point in my life where I no longer have the energy to hide the fact that I like to sit on the back porch with binoculars and the Peterson Field Guide.

Perhaps the Holy Grail of birders, at least in North America, would be to spot the ivory-billed woodpecker. It’s known by a nickname that I now consider blasphemous, but it is roughly translated as “Boy Howdy Would You Look At The Size of That Woodpecker.” It is as big as a crow. It is red headed as the day is long, and has distinctly marked wings and bill. It is thought to be extinct in our continent, so to get a picture of one – to confirm they still exist here – would be the biggest ornithological event since the rescue of the California Condor.

I, of course, think I have spotted many over the years – like one time in the piney sand hills of north Florida, or when I’ve been hunting in south Montgomery County. Once, while driving around Lake Martin, I spent two hours chasing a likely one just outside of Tallassee off of Highway 229. I tromped down an Elmore County road with a 300-millimeter zoom lens on my camera and even got a decent shot. But that and every other time when I get back to my bird guide, I realize that I have only seen a mere pileated.

In 2006, I was turkey hunting in Texas and met a guy from a small town in Arkansas where scientists “think” they found an ivory-billed in a nearby state forest. Once word spread, pandemonium broke out. People flooded to the tiny hamlet. Birders, scientists and savvy capitalists descended upon Brinkley. They filled hotels, they hammered restaurants, they staked out the woods, they sold T-shirts – they even bought up tracts of land. In the end, they came away with a doubtful audio recording but no confirmation. The lesson? Caution. Be very careful when you think you have spotted a rare species.

It is with great trepidation, with this proper perspective, that I tell you that I have confirmed sightings of another creature thought to be extinct – the Lake Martin house flipper. I can think of two or three successful flips in the last 12 months.

A house flipper is someone buys a house with no intention of ever spending the night there. Their goal is to buy it, fix it, sell it and forget it. Around Lake Martin, they most often do things like add a bedroom and bathroom. They might add central air conditioning if they need to, but you can bet they will add wood floors and the ubiquitous black granite counter tops with stainless appliances.

House flippers exist everywhere, obviously. Sometimes they have been blamed for the housing bubble, as callous profiteers who “bid up prices” just to rake in the dough. Hogwash, of course. The bubble was too big to blame on one section of the industry. It had plenty of guilt to go around. No one group was totally innocent, including us real estate agents. So don’t be a hater. Flippers are a good thing, a necessary element in any industry, a part of the circle of life – Hakuna Matata and all of that. I, for one, am glad to see a successful flip here and there in the Lake Martin real estate market. I take it as a positive sign, yet another indicator that the freeze has thawed for good.

house flipperI cringe with this announcement, however, I loathe suggesting anything that might be interpreted by sellers as their chance to jack their prices back up. I don’t want everyone to become armchair developers again like they did in 2005-2007. If you don’t do this for a living, don’t do it at the lake.

To buyers, I say this loudly – do not think of your purchase as an “investment.” Do not make the mistake of those in the past that thought in terms of rate of return. A lake home is a home – not your 401k. If you buy one and spend $15,000 making improvements over the course of one month, it is not magically worth $100,000 more than the day you bought it. Everyone gets HGTV. Everyone has cute ideas. Everyone knows someone in the construction industry who will give them a deal. Don’t be tempted by that siren.

So if, in the coming months, you hear about a successful Lake Martin flipper, don’t believe it until you see it. If you see one, smile and let it warm your heart, but don’t get any big ideas. The mere existence of one or two successful flippers does not mean the roaring times are back. They are just the first purple martin to reach Lake Martin in February – a reminder of a healthy ecosystem, not evidence of a free for all.

On the other hand, if you see an ivory-billed woodpecker, take a picture, and then call me. But only me! And if you’d like to talk about Lake Martin real estate, please give me a call: (334) 221-5862.  I’d love to be your realtor.

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Market Report May 2012

The Lake Martin real estate market had a smashing May, tallying 32 waterfront homes sold! This is the highest number of homes sold in six years, since May of 2006.

In this real estate market report I wrote for Lake Magazine, I noted that according to the Lake Martin MLS*, April 2012 had a relatively weak number of waterfront homes sold. I wondered if this was a signal that the Lake martin market was slowing down, or if this is a mere timing thing, setting the table for an explosive May.

It seems the latter was correct. 32 waterfront homes sold in one month is a lot for a little market like Lake Martin. Please note these numbers encompass all brokerages, all agents, in the Lake Martin MLS.

How good is 32?

To help put it into perspective, I looked at each month’s sales history since January, 2005. I found that May 2012 was the best home sales month on Lake Martin since 33 was sold in May of 2006. Think of that – the last time we have seen sales like this was in a confirmed seller’s market of 2006.

Also, another way to view this month is to ask this question:

Q: Since January of 2005, how many times has the Lake Martin real estate market exceeded 30 waterfront home sales per month?

A: Just six. That’s right, over the last 54 months, including the blistering years of 2005 and 2006, Lake Martin has exceeded 30 only six times: May 2012, August 2009, the above mentioned May 2006, and three times in 2005.

I think this proves that April 2012’s weak showing of 14 Lake Martin waterfront homes sold was an aberration, a timing issue. Of course, the same could be said about May, but I doubt that is really the case. As I write this, there are 23 home sales pending in the Lake Martin MLS and 17 recorded as sold since June 1. In other words, June is setting up to be a good sales month as well, very likely to beat the prior year’s June total of 22 homes sold.

If we step back and look the cumulative total number of waterfront homes sold on Lake Martin so far this year, we see that 93 homes have sold. Once again, this is the best five month start since 2006.

Lake Martin Lot Sales 2012

Lake Martin waterfront lots are also selling well so far in 2012. In May, 10 lots were sold, which was the best since 10 sold in April 2011. Other than last year, we have not seen that many lots sold since 2005.

Supply Side

When I first started blogging about Lake Martin real estate way back in 2007, I always included the numbers of waterfront homes for sale on Lake Martin. Every month I trotted out the supply. But, it got rather tedious so I stopped doing it every month, only mentioning it once per quarter or so. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because it frustrated me to see the number of homes for sale keep rising when the Lake Martin market was in an obvious shift to the buyer’s side of the equation. I don’t know.

I do think it bears a look now, in light of the sustained sales.  I took a look at the number of waterfront homes for sale on Lake Martin in the last few years. It has been dropping quite a bit. If we use the month of May as an example, we see that in May of 2009 there were 589 homes for sale on the MLS. May of 2010 saw it drop to 492, then drop to 476 in 2011. In May of 2012 it was only 411. That is a 30% decrease in supply in three years. True, that percentage fluctuates based on which month you consider. It also is true that many more condos were for sale back then, but I looked at the condo effect in this post and it wasn’t all that big an influence in sales.

If supply stays low and sales continue on this trend, could 2012 be a year of actual price increases?  I’m not willing to go out on that limb.  Yet.

Related Posts:

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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Search the Lake Martin MLS Like a Realtor

My blog, Lake Martin Voiceexists because you want to buy or sell Lake Martin real estate.  The homes in the Lake Martin MLS are the stars of the show.  So my goal is to get you to these homes.  I made the following tutorial to help you navigate our MLS.  Give me 5 minutes, and I’ll show you how I do it.

The Lake Martin Area MLS is without a doubt the #1 source for the most accurate, up to date information on homes for sale on the lake.  It is a treasure trove of real estate data, and in my opinion, it’s one of only 2 online resources you need (the second being my website, for obvious reasons).  Big aggregator sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com are notoriously inaccurate, out of date, and at times, plain wrong, especially in a rural area like Lake Martin.  (For more about the problems with 3rd party syndicator websites, CLICK HERE.)

Our local Realtors, on the other hand, feed our MLS, and unlike the syndicators, our local MLS allows unlimited pictures and video for every listing.

My goal is to give you as much information as possible.  The syndicators’ goal is to extract as much advertising dollars as possible.  That’s not evil, per se, but you just need to know that.

When you you need more information about a property, or want to talk about Lake Martin real estate, give me a call at (334) 221-5862.  My job is to help you.  I’m honored to do it.

 

 

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Lake Martin MLS Search Tips

Kenneth and Melinda are looking around for a waterfront home on Lake Martin, and I am honored that they selected me to help them. A couple of weeks ago they were at the lake and we were looking around when Kenneth went into an unsolicited testimonial about the my Lake Martin home search – aka MLS search.

I can’t take all of the credit, FBS Data Systems runs our system, called FlexMLS. In my opinion there is no finer software solution or way to search for homes and lots. FlexMLS is an outstanding product that is very responsive, customizable, and relevant to the way that consumers would like to search.

Please take a minute to watch this video, where Kenneth explains how he started his Lake Martin home search with a couple of hundred potentially confusing possibilities, then whittled it to a managable twelve, then zeroed in on the five or six he wanted to see.

He searched on his desktop mostly, but then was able to save and transfer his favorites to his smart phone.  We even zoom in and Kenneth shows you how to do it on his phone. The great thing is that my website, Lake Martin Voice, and Lake Martin’s FlexMLS system automatically recognizes if you’re using a mobile phone and tailors the experience for you. Kenneth was able to find two more homes that he wanted to see while we were at the lake.

Would you like to start your own search for a waterfront home or lot at Lake Martin? Click here or above on the Property Search button and get started. Once there, click on a smiley face and it will allow you to save your favorites.  Don’t worry, the registration only comes to me, no spam.

Thanks again and way to go, Flex!!!!

 

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Lake Martin Market Report: First Quarter 2012

Lake Martin, Alabama, waterfront home sales continue the hot streak of 2011 by posting 43 homes sold in the first quarter of 2012.

I studied the Lake Martin MLS* to see how the home sales have been in the first three months of the year. Personally, this is the best January, February, and March that I have ever had, praise the Lord. But I wondered if my experience was atypical. Generally, Lake Martin home sales are coolest in the cool months, so what was the rest of the market doing?

A quick look at the numbers in the Lake Martin MLS, which includes all agents, all Lake Martin real estate brokerages, shows that in January of 2012, 12 waterfront homes were sold, in February of 2012 it was 11, and 20 homes were sold in March of 2012 for a total of 43. This number was the best since 2007’s 43 and almost equaled 2006’s 46.

Lake Martin Real Estate Trends for 2012

What does this mean? Is this brisk pace a good omen for Lake Martin sales in 2012? It’s too early to tell, I think. If you look at 2007, which had an equally good start, the drought and the real estate bubble bursting combined to crash the market that year. However, in 2006, a great first quarter signaled a great, but declining, sales market. We just won’t know until we have more data.

But the good news is that one thing is sure – this strong quarter shows us that the sales momentum from 2011 has continued.

Lake Martin Waterfront Foreclosures Update For 2012

The other day Jessica from the Alex City Outlook called me to interview me about foreclosures in the Lake Martin area. She asked me if I felt that foreclosures were increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. My first instinct was to say that they have stayed steady, based on this post where I detailed foreclosure trends for the last three years.

However, I looked at the numbers just in case, and was surprised.

Of the 43 waterfront homes sold through the Lake Martin MLS in the first three months of this year, 13 were listed as foreclosures. That’s 30%! Way over the 7% in each of 2009, 2010, and 2011. What does this mean? Is this finally the “huge flood of foreclosures” that we have been hearing about?

I don’t think so. I think it is merely pent up supply and a coincidence that they all fell in the same quarter. I base that opinion on the fact that there are only 12 other waterfront homes listed as foreclosures that are for sale right now out of 379 total homes for sale. That’s only 3% of the supply.

Wait a minute, you might say. Maybe the foreclosures are selling at a higher proportionate rate. Maybe they are the better deals and will be sold first, thereby skewing the market down.

Perhaps, you might be right. But I think we still need more data to be sure. Remember, the first two months of the year historically are some of our lowest sales totals. It doesn’t pay to draw too many conclusions.

Let’s be happy for a strong three months of sales on Lake Martin, but let’s reserve prognostication until we have a few more months under our belts. And since we don’t wear belts much around here, I guess I should say the elastic band on our swim suits.

Related Posts:

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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