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Memorial Day Weekend Events at Lake Martin – 2017

Summer officially starts June 20 but at Lake Martin we all know summer starts MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. And boy there are so many events to choose from here at the Lake you are going to wish you could clone yourself to enjoy them all.

Here is a list of events in no particular order:

RXR FEST – three nights of great music at Russell Crossroads – featuring Airside, Mose Wilson and The Delta Twang, The Bank Walkers, Raquel Lily, Jordy Searcy and The Jonathan Bloom Band. Bring your chairs and coolers and enjoy a weekend with family and friends. 6-10pm

Art on the Lake at Children’s Harbor – Saturday from 9-5 and Sunday from 9-2 this free art festival features art and jewelry from over 40 artisans with a portion of art purchases helping support Children’s Harbor.

Bezlo’s Cafe – Opened earlier this year in Eclectic. Avondale Brewing Company Tasting Party from 5-8pm on Friday. Live music from Mark Kelley from 8:30-10pm Friday and Saturday.

Chuck’s Marina – Your home all summer long. Live music all weekend – Friday at 7:30pm, Rachel Wilson, Saturday at 7:30pm, Blane Rudd and Sunday from 6-9pm River Dan!

Copper’s Grill at Stillwaters – Great food, live music, outside venue! Friday 7-10pm music from Blackberry Breeze, Saturday 7-10pm music from Winston Ramble and Sunday 7-10pm the Sid Phelps Band.

McFadden Cup Club Race – Dixie Sailing Club – Racing open to all members. Saturday from 11-5. Not a member? If interested in crewing see their website.

Eagles at Naturalist Cabin in Russell Crossroads – Saturday at 12pm and 1pm. Come visit two of Auburn’s popular eagles!

The Landing at Parker Creek – Saturday starting at 6pm, live music from the M-80s and Jenni Foreman Mote.

Interested in knowing what is happening at Lake Martin? Or check the weather? See the water level? Discover new restaurants or shops? Contact one of the area Marinas? Keep up to date with new property listings? Then download the free Lake Martin Voice App! You will be glad you did!

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Price Drop in River Oaks!

Heads-up! This Lake Martin waterfront home for sale in River Oaks has just had a price drop.

1642 River Oaks Drive sits on a beautiful lot with westerly views framing a huge vista of the lake. This lake home has a flexible floor plan, 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, screened porch, boat lift and more!

New price of $749,500!

 

Take a full tour below! (click play arrow)

For more information on 1642 River Oaks Drive click here or contact Listing Agent John Coley at 334-221-5862 or by clicking here or email him – [email protected].

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Summer-ize to Show

As you read this, Lake Martin’s Plug Day 2017 should be comfortably behind us. Lord willing, spring rains and Alabama Power should be combining to raise the lake’s water level – inch by inch, day by day.

It’s Christmas morning every morning for people like me who love Lake Martin. How much fun is it to check your favorite source for the water level and see that the lake has risen higher than it was the day before? Each time I see a rise, in my head I can hear Johnny Cash ask, “How high’s the water, Mama?” It is glorious.

Have you squandered the time after September? Are you one of these folks that shuts your lake home up tight after Labor Day and doesn’t crack it open until Memorial Day? If so, shame on you. It’s your loss, really, because you are missing some of the best weather that the Lake Martin area offers.

Of course, people have their reasons for seasonal abandonment, one common excuse I hear from absentee owners is that once they winterize their cabins, they don’t want to summerize it just for one weekend, only to have to turn around and winterize it before they leave. Too much trouble, they protest.

One might ask, “what’s winterizing?” Basically, it involves preparing a home to be on its own over the winter. Each family at each home has its own winterizing ritual. Some people just lock up and leave. Others drag in all the outdoor furniture, put covers over the indoor furniture, and hide the TVs and the liquor. All of them, though, drain the water lines. The number one enemy of a winterized home is frozen plumbing.

Winterizing is a big deal around Lake Martin. It’s not that we live in an arctic climate. In fact, in a normal year there really is only two or three times that it gets cold enough for long enough so that pipes will freeze. My guess is its importance is due to the fact that many of the homes in the area are older and built in a time when ski boats only cost $1,000 and cabins were only used in the summer. They just weren’t designed with new fangled city conveniences like insulation.

If you have ever spent time looking at homes for sale during the winter, you are all too familiar with the practical effects of large scale winterization. Over the course of a seven hour showing day, it is not unusual to walk through eight or nine homes. Morning coffee and healthy hydration can combine to spur the call of nature. Many is the potential home buyer that has used the bathroom in a winterized cabin and heard the dreaded silence after the attempted flush. Silence in a toilet means nothing is happening. The bad stuff isn’t flushed away and new water isn’t being pumped in to replace it.  Then the embarrassed home buyer must, with hands a-wringing, admit to the real estate agent that they went, but the toilet didn’t cooperate.  There’s only one thing to do if you are a proper real estate agent.

You have to fix it.

You can’t summerize the house for one flush. No way. Risky even if technically possible. No, the best thing you can do if you’re the agent is to start looking around for a bucket. Usually there is one sitting under the house or in the shed. You grab the bucket, walk to the lake, scoop a healthy ladle of water, and trek back to the house. If you’re lucky, you can do this from the dock and keep your shoes clean. However, many is the home without year round water, and this means walking in a possibly muddy lake bottom to get near enough to the water to scoop. Whether you kick off your shoes to do this, or put out a board to walk on is a game time decision, but muddying up the inside of the home is not an option.

Once you have your water in the bucket, simply fill up the tank in the toilet and flush. Hopefully, one flush will do it. If not, rinse and repeat.

There are all kinds of complicating factors. Once, I couldn’t find a bucket and had to use a small salad bowl; it took five trips. The tank might be leaky so you might have to fill it up repeatedly and flush quickly. I won’t mention the myriad of problems that might surface from a “number two” situation. They ain’t pretty. However, I do think it is a rite of passage of sorts for Lake Martin agents. I say you aren’t an initiated member until you have dipped a bucket in the lake on a cold winter day.

Despite the challenges of a winterized home, I still think that it’s worth it to come to the lake house and summerize, even if it’s for one weekend or one day.

If the winterizing and summerizing of your lake home is particularly onerous, I would challenge you to make it easier. Use the winter to learn about your home and figure out if there’s a better way to do it. For instance, much of the trouble centers around draining all of the plumbing lines to make sure there is absolutely no water present.  For home owners of old homes, or for old home owners, the prospect of crawling underneath the house with a flashlight and a monkey wrench is not appealing. But maybe you can hire a plumber to install an additional drain line that is easy to access and operate.

Also, you might accept that a certain amount of failure should be viewed as feedback. No matter how much we plan, we still make mistakes, no matter how “professional” we think we might be at winterizing. This winter, I myself suffered the shame of frozen pipes at the lake. I thought I had drained my plumbing lines perfectly, only to be met with the dreaded hissing when the water was turned back on after a cold weekend.

My father thought this was hilarious. You have to know him to know why, but generally he delights in situations that cost me money, especially if he’s afforded an opportunity to not-so-gently mock me with questions like, “What? Don’t you know how to winterize your house? It’s pretty simple.”

After I recovered from my embarrassment, I vowed to learn from the incident. I crawled under the house and studied the complex network of iron and PEX and came away with a plan to change it a bit for the better. Maybe next time the temperature dips, I will be able to get all the water out in a fast, effortless way.

That’s my encouragement to any home owner who says that it’s too much of a pain to winterize. I ask you, “Why is it so much trouble? Why not make it easier?” You are missing out on a lot. Lake Martin is too beautiful to only enjoy it above eighty degrees.

Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine. This article was also published on the ACRE (Alabama Center for Real Estate) website and AL.com

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Price Drop on townhouse at The Ridge!

Heads-up! A great Lake Martin townhouse for sale at The Ridge has just had a price drop.

184 Ledges Trail at The Ridge is a gorgeous home with upscale finishes, an open, spacious floor plan, 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, a deeded boat slip and an easy care exterior – plus all the extras of The Ridge. AND it is right on the waterfront! New price of $539,000!

Take a 3D and 360 Tour below: (click Play Arrow):

For more information on 184 Ledges Trail click here or contact Listing Agent John Coley at 334-221-5862 or by clicking here or email him – [email protected].

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First, Focus on Photos

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Anytime is a great time for taking pictures around Lake Martin.

I can think of so many great occasions – times when you want to say “look at me, I’m still fishing and you’re at work,” hiking, hunting, or just plain ole hanging out.

If you are like me, you imagine these perfect photo opportunities and how good they would look on social media. Your subject looks dazzling. The picture is composed so well that Kenneth Boone would nod in artistic appreciation. Your “friends” on Facebook would seethe with envy, yet comment something like “so cute” or “time, please slow down!”

If you are like me, you also mess up just about 99 out of 100 shots you take. Everyone’s hair is combed; the dog is looking directly in the camera; the kids appear genuinely like a gunfighter in a spaghetti western. Ugh!

The same goes for real estate photography.

Sure, I will grant you, no one is likely to print out a picture of your home from the MLS and hang it on their fridge. It probably will not go viral like the “Back to School” shots of your kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Having really good pictures of a home that is for sale is still paramount in my business. I really like all of the media that we have these days – video, aerial footage and 3D walkthroughs – but that doesn’t mean we agents should forsake the humble photograph.

The most important picture is the first one listed in the MLS or online. That’s because we know from the numbers that 90% of homebuyers use the web to scout for homes. A great majority of people’s first move is to look online, not call an agent. That lead picture is the home’s mug shot.  It is the maker or breaker. If the first picture doesn’t look good, the ever-roving eye of the buyer will move on without a click.

That is why it’s really important to take the best pictures possible. Everybody knows this, but at the lake it means getting really nice shots of the lake side of the house. For a waterfront home, the lake side is the main side. Buyers come for the lake, so the lake is the most important thing.

It sounds pretty elementary, but time and time again, I see pictures on the MLS or on other sites where it’s obvious that the agent or owner did not take this into account. If I were a seller of a waterfront home on Lake Martin, I would insist on the best media possible – pictures, 3D tours, etc. The whole nine yards. I would make the main thing the main thing. Show me a great picture of the lakeside facade.

One of the steps in getting great pictures is having superb lighting. The best possible.  I am nowhere near a professional photographer, but at least I try to get the best light. To do that, I have to figure out the time of day that is going to be most flattering for the outside of the home. This differs for every home on Lake Martin because the lake side of the home might be facing in any direction.

If you have a west facing home and take early morning pictures, your results will be draped in shadow. You have to plan around that.

Also, at Lake Martin, many waterfront homes sit on wooded lots, so you have to take that into account. What sun angle would be best to avoid the trees casting shadows all over that outdoor kitchen? Not just morning or afternoon, but what exact time of day? If you were really doing a good job, you would want to take pictures of every side of the house.

Do you need to come back another day at a different time and take more pictures or video of different sides of the house to take advantage of differing light situations? Will it be cloudy the day you try?

How then, can you plan for shadows and the path of the sun? Does it require camping out and taking notes for an entire day?

Enter my not-so-secret-weapon-of-a-website:  suncalc.net.

I was tipped off to this website by my friend and architect Bryan Jones. Architects are another group of professionals that really pay attention to the sun.

This site will tell you the best time of day at any place around the world. Just plug in an address, and you can see the sun’s path at any given time on any given day of the year.

Where should you take pictures Easter morning at Grandma’s house? When’s the best time to photograph  your dock at the lake?  All of these questions can be answered at suncalc.net.

Incidentally, if you want to shoot Acapulco Rock in the full sun in the middle of August, try 11:05 a.m.

Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate  for Lake Magazine.

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Are older Lake Martin cabins ever for sale?

(advertisement courtesy of The Alabama Department of Archives and History)

(advertisement courtesy of The Alabama Department of Archives and History)

If you are curious about old cabins around Lake Martin (some maybe from the 1950s as advertised above) you are not alone.  Here’s a question one of my buyers emailed me the other day:

Q:  We have been renting houses on Lake Martin for years.  This past weekend we took a long boat ride looking around.  We saw several old cabins that looked unused.  Just curious as to if these ever go up for sale?

A:   Thanks for the email.  That’s a great question.  I see old cabins around Lake Martin all the time, too.  Most (99%) of the time there is a reason for it.  Like, maybe it’s an old family cabin and they can’t decide what to do about it.   I can’t blame them, because it is hard to give up on generations of memories!

Or maybe the person has decided to hold on to it in order to get more when they sell in the future, but doesn’t want to fix it up.  I can’t blame homeowners like this, either. Historically, Lake Martin (like most waterfront real estate markets) has had very high appreciation over the long term.

Or, maybe the owner would sell it but they have a crazy high price in mind (this happens a lot).  Honestly, I can’t relate to home owners like this.  I know that your home is “one of a kind” – but people will compare to others.  When buyers come to Lake Martin, they typically will walk through seven or eight homes per visit.  This is after whittling down a list of twenty they found on the web.

My rule of thumb is, if they want to sell it, it would be on the market.  These type of cabins get calls, emails, and letters from people all the time (mostly agents) that want to buy it. They are presented with many opportunities, so if you as a buyer contacted them, you will likely be joining a long list of interested parties.

A more likely scenario happens when home owners call me and ask what I think their Lake Martin property is worth.  At least those folks are considering selling, but not always. With a second home market like Lake Martin, you’re dealing with buyers that don’t “Have” to buy, and sellers that don’t “Have” to sell.  That makes it kind of unique.

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It’s Not Shiplap

What is shiplap? It has nothing to do with ships regardless of its name.

Shiplap (a type of wooden board used on exterior walls) is a hot decorating trend that has seen “…a serious surge in popularity in new renovation, thanks in large part to its extensive use on shows like HGTV’s Fixer Upper” – according to several home renovator blogs. However, it is often confused with tongue-and-groove siding.

Chip and Joanna Gaines – HGTV’s Fixer Upper

Sorry Chip and Joanna – you got it wrong. I love you and everybody I know loves you but shiplap refers to a groove not the look of the finished product.

 

 

 

Doug Furhman of Southern Traditions Construction helps explain the differences of shiplap siding and tongue-and-groove siding in the video below.

As a Lake Martin realtor I can help you find your Lake Martin home and quickly identify homes that are move-in ready, tear down opportunities or just in need of some shiplap siding. I’d love to help you out with your Lake Martin search, so call me at 334-221-5862, or CLICK HERE to contact me.

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Where are Lake Martin homes listed for sale?

Does Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors (LMAAR) have ALL the listings for Lake Martin or are there some listed through realtors that are not on that site?

Several months ago I had a potential client ask me the question – “Where are Lake Martin homes listed for sale?” He told me that he and his wife were constantly looking (more looking than anything) for a home to purchase at Lake Martin. They checked the LMAAR website several times a month to look.

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LMAAR has 99.5% of all properties that actually sell on the Lake.  If you look on the Montgomery Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) website you’ll see 10 to 20 at any given moment but all of them are also listed on LMAAR.  Occasionally there will one on MAAR that is not on LMAAR, thus my < 100% number.  All of the agents that are serious and full time about Lake Martin (like me) live and breath the LMAAR MLS.

To help my clients I can set up an account on my LMAAR MLS feed.  Click here for the link.  It is not public and no one else will see it.

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Setting up your account will help you save the properties you have seen and share feedback with your spouse.  It can also be set up to auto alert you by email when something pops up in your area and price range.  If you aren’t interested in registering, no sweat, but some folks like to be alerted so they don’t miss anything, and properties in some Lake areas are going fast these days.

My name is John Coley and I would love to help you find your Lake Martin home.  Give me a call at 334-221-5862 or contact me here or email me at [email protected].

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Would you like Zero Closing Costs on your next Mortgage?

Recently I had a conversation with Don Manuel of Alabama Power Credit Union (APCO Employees Credit Union) to discuss two topics. The first topic we discussed revolved around closing costs on mortgage loans, and the second was APCO’s new relationship with Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA).

John:  I know my readers are interested to hear more about the mortgage promotion APCO is offering. Tell me about it. Has it started yet?

Don:  Thanks for asking about the promotion. This really is a unique offering from a financial institution. The Credit Union is a not for profit cooperative. When the Credit Union is successful, we return our profits to members through lower borrowing rates and higher savings rates. We also  have a fantastic mortgage operation. Our goal was to make a splash during the slower time of the year (January and February) for mortgage lending, so we came up with the ZERO Closing Costs Mortgage Promotion. It is really just another way to give back to our members.

John:  When you say ZERO closing costs, does that include the origination fee?

Don:  Yes, ZERO origination fee.

John:  What about appraisal fee?

Don:  Absolutely!  The appraisal fee is included, too.

John:  What other incentives are included in ‘ZERO Closing Costs’?

Don:  Just about everything you think of when you hear the words, “closing costs”. In addition to not charging an origination fee, we don’t charge a fee for underwriting, appraisal, title insurance, doc  prep, credit report, flood determination, tax monitoring, application or closing. The promotion covers everything, except recurring items like taxes and insurance. There is a complete list on our website, apcocu.org. Of course, terms and conditions apply.

John:  How long are you running this mortgage promotion?

Don:  The promotion started January 1 and will run through the end of February.

John: Don, tell me about your credit union’s relationship with LMRA.  

Don:  LMRA is a non-profit organization that has been around since the 1970’s. Even though our CEO, Derrick Ragland, and I have both been lake homeowners for over 30 years, we had not crossed paths with LMRA until last year. We learned that LMRA is dedicated to promoting, preserving and protecting Lake Martin and the adjacent areas. Their goals of safety, clean water, stable water levels and overall enjoyment of the lake was a sentiment we shared. While meeting with the LMRA board, we learned more about the organization and realized our credit union and LMRA could accomplish much more together than we could separately. Our credit union is a “closed” field of membership financial institution. In order to become a member, you must be associated with a specific company or organization that is a Select Employee Group (SEG). LMRA and APCO agreed to work towards a partnership that would give the group SEG status. The affiliation process was successfully completed and we’re happy to play a small role in aiding LMRA’s mission, while opening the door for members of the organization to join the Credit Union.

John:  What do you have on the horizon with LMRA during 2017?

Don:  With the start of the New Year, LMRA began a membership drive. We are supporting and collaborating with their efforts in any way we can. The Credit Union has more than 70,000 members. We believe many of them share in our support of the LMRA initiative of preserving Lake Martin and the protection of Alabama waterways. We want to do what we can to grow awareness for the LMRA and its projects.

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Yet Another Zillow Fail At Lake Martin

lake martin, zillow, alabama, fails

Zillow doesn’t work here at Lake Martin for selling waterfront real estate. It is terribly inaccurate.

I get reminded of this every now and then when I hold my nose and wade into their site. Today I was looking at a Zillow advertisement for a waterfront property on the Dadeville side of Lake Martin. The Zestimate was crazy wrong. But….. that goes without saying. Aren’t we all used to that by now?

What caught my eye is some of the wacky supplemental info that Zillow tried to give for the home.  Dadeville’s zip is 36853, and Zillow thinks that the nearby zip codes of 36023 (East Tallassee) and 36256 (Daviston) are comparable to this property. Huh? Seriously? Here’s the reality- homes that are a half mile away from this one, but also in Dadeville, are NOT comparable, either. That’s because an off water home in Dadeville is not comparable to one that is waterfront on Lake Martin. The lot drives the value on Lake Martin.

Common sense, right?  Well, it seems the computer nerds at Zillow haven’t figured out how to program for that.

Also- check out the “nearby” neighborhoods. Hello? Only one of the five of those has any waterfront on Lake Martin. I have never heard of the other four.

If you want the most accurate, up to date information on real estate here at Lake Martin, see the Lake Martin MLS. And, please contact me here and allow me to help you.

Lake Martin Zillow FAQ:

Why is Zillow so wrong here at Lake Martin? Many reasons. Among them is that the counties around Lake Martin do not report sales data to Zillow. Neither does our MLS. The result is that Zillow’s database is bloated with homes and lots, many of which are out of date, inaccurate, have sub-standard media, and are poorly described. This leads to buyer frustration (“What? This home’s listing was cancelled two years ago?”) and seller anger (“What? It says my house has 0 bathrooms!”).

Then why is Zillow so popular nationally? Zillow is not in the real estate business. They are in the “sell ads to real estate agents” business. To be frank, they are good at scaring the poop out of real estate agents like me when they cold call us. The pitch is, “we are so awesome! Don’t you want to be The Featured Agent in your area?”  I respond, “My area? You mean Sessions? Or Buttston? or Tohopeka? No thanks. I will keep my money and you keep that title.”  Agents that do give money to Zillow soon find out that Zillow takes their money and uses it to advertise to – you guessed it – other agents, pressuring them to outbid the original agent for the (occasionally) coveted Featured Agent for the area.

Will I ever advertise on Zillow? Who knows. I never say never. Maybe one day Zillow will get its act together for Lake Martin real estate. Maybe their SEO will start to beat mine. Maybe they will actually become a useful tool for home sellers and buyers here. When that happens, I will hop right on board. Occasionally  I hear of a FSBO that uses the site with some success. Sometimes I will even recommend that FSBOs try Zillow out if they are so inclined, but right now it just doesn’t make sense for me. I am a full time, professional real estate agent with other, much more powerful marketing tools with which to help buyers and sellers here at Lake Martin.

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