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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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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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Lake Martin Real Estate MLS Statistics – 2007 In Review

The Lake Martin real estate market suffered a major slowdown in 2007 for a variety of reasons.  I dug through the sales results in the Lake Martin MLS to attempt to cut through the gossip and analyze the numbers.

In 2007, the number of Lake Martin waterfront homes sold was about 35% less than in 2006.  2006 was about 17% less than the peak of the sellers’ market in 2005:

MLS sales figure 04-07 cropped scrn print ifin

Witness the Transformation From Sellers’ to Buyers’ Market:

In 2006 and 2007, the number of Lake Martin waterfront homes that were added as new listings to the market out paced those that were actually sold every month.  Therefore sales inventories ballooned, and this 24 month period proved crucial:

MLS monthly stats 06 and 07 screen print 2

More Analysis Of Waterfront Homes Sold in 2007:

153 Lake Martin homes sold in 2007.  Of those, 114 were homes and 39 were condos.  Of the 153, 142 were deeded lot homes and 11 were leased lot homes.

Prices of Homes Sold in 2007:

Of the 153, 13 homes were listed as having sold at $0.  This happens sometimes.  Most of the time it is at the request of the seller.  A minority of people don’t want “their business” on the MLS.  Sometimes it is a builder that doesn’t want to publish how far he dropped the price.  So the below statistics will only deal with the 140 that sold and published prices:

2007 sales breakdown print screen irfan

The most expensive home sold was for $3.88 million in The Ridge.  The lowest was a manufactured home on a leased lot in Pleasure Point for $25,000.

LOTS:

Sales of waterfront lots on Lake Martin were also affected in 2007.  In total, 37 lots were sold in 2007, as compared to 55 in 2006.  The monthly sales numbers are:

Lake Martin waterfront lot sales 2007

As the numbers point, out, now is a great time to buy Lake Martin waterfront real estate.  Do you need help finding the best deal? Let me show you around..

Or do you own Lake Martin property, and are wondering how all of this news affects your particular situation?  Call me, I will be glad to give you an idea of how the changing real estate market will translate to your bottom line. No cost, no pressure, no kidding.

Still curious about Lake Martin real estate statistics?  Leave a reply below and suggest how you would like me to slice and dice the numbers.

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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Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: Trillium

lake martin real estate Trillium

Trillium, one of Russell Lands’ more mature Lake Martin developments, is located just west of Kowaliga Marina.  Along with Willow Point and The Ridge, Trillium has some of the more high end homes on Lake Martin.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in Trillium, CLICK HERE to go to my Trillium Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Trillium was one of Russell Lands’ first neighborhoods that were completed in different phases.  The first homes were built there around 1989.  One element that was new to Lake Martin at the time was Russell Lands’ use of causeway construction.

Years of erosion on Lake Martin had made islands out of former peninsula.  Russell Lands poured a lot of money in the construction of causeways to bring paved roads and utilities, thereby rescuing millions of dollars of real estate.  I can remember one such “island” on the first phase.  It was divided into four huge lots and priced at $250,000 each.  It was laughingly dubbed “million dollar island” by hordes of us skeptical locals.  We pondered “what fool would pay that much for one lot?” Eighteen years later, that amount will barely buy you any sort of waterfront lot, much less a showcase one like those on the points at Trillium.  Turns out that we were the fools for not realizing the demand that would spur a long bull run for Lake Martin property.  Lots like those would now cost you 10 times that amount if you could buy them at all.

By my unofficial count, there are 213 waterfront lots in all of Trillium.  As of this writing, there are 8 homes and 4 lots for sale in Trillium in the Lake Martin MLS If you would like any information on them, give me a call or email me.

trillium homes for sale

Amenities:

Trillium does not have a clubhouse.  It does have a guardhouse protecting the lone entry, but I have never seen a guard there.  I suppose they could put someone there in the future if they wanted.

Because Trillium doesn’t have a clubhouse, it does not have any related things like a pool or workout center or anything.  They do have some walking trails that are cut through the non-waterfront woods.

Lot types:

Waterfront lots in Trillium are flat.  Just as many of the lots in The Ridge (link) are sloped, Trillium’s overall topography almost guarantees that each one of its lots are flat.

Generally, the lots are also big (for Lake Martin) and deep, sitting far back from the roadways.  Trillium’s lots are also well covered with tall, mature pines.

There are no interior lots or homes.  All homes in Trillium are waterfront.  Who knows, maybe one day Russell Lands will sell off the interior land.  Right now, they have retained fairly large sections of woods in between the phases to give Trillium a beautiful, woodsy, private feel.

Factoids:

Back in the heyday of “Russell cabins” Mrs. Edith Russell used to have a couple of cabins at the end of Pine Point.  Apparently she was a fan of the trillium, a pretty, symbolic wildflower native to this part of Alabama.  Hence the name of the subdivision and its types the names of many of its streets: Wake Robin, Nodding, Grandiflorium, Underwood, Catesby, and Narrowleaf.

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6 Questions To Ask At An Auction On Lake Martin

Lake Martin Auction property home25 waterfront condos are being auctioned at Harbor Pointe in Stillwaters on July 7th.  Five of those will be absolute.  This auction follows on the heels of one earlier this spring.  Is this a sign of the times on Lake Martin?  Does this signal an end to the seller’s market? Are auctions a way to get a good deal on Lake Martin property?

Like any real estate transaction, every auction is uniqueThe person that does the homework will either come out of it with a fair price or avoid paying too much.

What questions should buyers ask before attending an auction at Lake Martin?

1.  Is this an absolute auction?  Always clarify this, but usually an absolute auction means that they must sell on that day, regardless of price.  Even if someone bids $1 for a Lake Martin condo, they must sell.  If it is not absolute, then ask what the reserve price is.  I’m sure they won’t tell you that, but no harm in asking.
2.  How many / which parcels are absolute? The Harbor Pointe auction will have 5 out of 25 absolute.  But,  if you see an ad for a different auction that says “40 condos for sale, absolute auction” maybe only 2 will be absolute. You want to be clear as to which are absolute and you want to make sure that you’re under the tent when they’re selling the absolute ones.
3.  Have these properties been for sale before?  The auction company may or may not know the answer, or they may or may not be obliged to tell you.  Here’s where your Lake martin real estate property auctionresearch comes in the picture.  How well do you know the Lake Martin market?  Or Stillwaters? Or Harbor Pointe? If the lake properties have been for sale recently, the listing prices can give you an idea of the seller’s expectations.
4.  What do you have to do to be a qualified bidder?  Usually you can give them a check for like $5,000 or something or a letter from the bank, usually it is better to set this up ahead of time, the week before the auction.
5.  What are the fees to the buyer?  Usually the buyer pays a fee above and on top of the bid amount  – this could be 5% to 10% – to cover the cost of the auction and the auctioneer fees.  This is sometimes a big part of their pitch to sellers.  They say, why pay realtor fees of 6% when you can make the buyer pay 10%?  Sellers think they are saving money but it all comes down to what is net to them anyway, and buyers figure that in when they bid and reduce their top number by, say, 10%.  Whatever.
6.  Will you send me the rules of the auction ahead of time? I ask for those.  I read everything.  Every auction is a bit different.  Maybe I will spot something that I didn’t think to ask about originally.
Sometimes I have Lake Martin buyers ask me about things like this, where I am neither the listing agent nor involved in any way. If they are interested, I can call the auction company for the buyer and register them as a potential bidder.  The auction company usually pays an extremely small “referral fee” to realtors like me when they register a buyer that is a high bidder.  This doesn’t cost the buyer a penny more because the buyer’s fee will be the same whether I call them or the buyer calls them directly.  But if I do call, I can ask them all of the above questions and give my analysis.
Lake Martin home auctionIn the case of the Harbor Pointe auction, I would run a buyer a report of all of the sales in Harbor Pointe in the last 2 years, and give a bidder an idea of what the exact market price should be on a condo there.  This gives you a pretty precise point to bid up to without getting hurt too bad.  Again, it won’t cost a dime more, and could arm you with a lot of information for the auction.  If my registered buyer is not a high bidder, they don’t owe me a penny.
I will definitely be watching the auction at Harbor Pointe to see what happens. (Thanks, Kirk, for the idea for this post!)

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Mythbuster: Alabama Power Leased Lots – Lake Martin

Lake Martin Alabama power leased lotAlabama Power has leased waterfront lots on Lake Martin for decades.  Yet, so much rumor, speculation, and innuendo surrounds the topic it remains mysterious to many people, real estate agents included.

Allow me to try to bust the myth on this subject.

Why are there leased lots on Lake Martin?

Lake Martin dam alabama power real estateLake Martin was created in 1923 when the Southern Company (Alabama Power) built Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River.  They bought up all of the eventual waterfront at the elevation of 490 feet above sea level.  Since old Mr. Ben Russell (founder of Russell Mills), already owned the damming rights to the Tallapoosa, the Power Company swapped him those rights for one half of the waterfront.  Pretty much every inch of the 700 miles of waterfront of Lake Martin at one time or another was owned by either Alabama Power or Old Mr. Ben.

When did Alabama Power begin to lease lots on Lake Martin?

Sometime around in the 1960s, Alabama Power allowed people to build homes on the waterfront, but they retained ownership of the land underneath the home.  The people own the sticks and bricks, the company owns the dirt.  The people paid a monthly lease to do so.  Over the years, depending on the opinions of officers at Alabama Power, the homeowners were given the chance to buy the dirt under their homes.  No rhyme or reason to it, some years they would decide to sell, other years they would institute leases.  That policy continues today.  Who knows, they may decide to start selling lots to leaseholders tomorrow.  They might not.

How does a lot lease work on Lake Martin?

These days, when Alabama Power leases a waterfront lot to homeowners, they have a written lease, just like you would for an apartment.  The lease specifies the monthly rate (currently around $400), the length of the lease (currently twenty years), and the yearly increase of the rate.  The key here is that every lot is different, so if you’re concerned, consult a lawyer.  Alabama Power assigns the lease amount when they offer new lots for lease.  They offer the lots in a bid system, meaning, the homeowners bid offers of cash to pay for the privilege of entering the lease.  If you are the top bidder, then you must pay the monthly lease rate on top of that.

What happens at the lease end?

Again, you must examine each lease to be sure of how it works.  But generally speaking, at the end of the lease, one of 4 things can happen:

1.  Alabama Power renews the lease
2.  Alabama Power sells you the lot
3.  Alabama Power buys the house from you
4.  You pick up the house and leave.

My family has been selling real estate in the Lake Martin area since 1953.  We have never heard of Alabama Power buying a house, or making someone move their house away.  Not that it is impossible, but it is, in my opinion, highly, highly, improbable.  Most of the time they either renew the lease or sell you the lot.  Once again, if in doubt, talk to a lawyer.

Can you sell a leased lot home?

One word answer – YES.  There are plenty of great leased lot homesLake Martin real estate for sale now (like this one) on Lake Martin and many that have sold in the past.  Generally speaking, you can get more house or view for your money on a leased lot house than you can on a deeded lot home, because of the existence of the lease. The transaction works just like a deeded lot sale, except you have the added step of transferring the lease to the new owner.  Alabama Power must approve this transfer, but usually it’s just a matter of paperwork.

Can you finance a leased lot home?

YES – easily.  I almost always recommend that Lake Martin buyers use lenders from around the lake.  Not because I am related to any many of them, but because lake financing is usually a bit different than your standard McHouse in McSuburbia.  Local lenders are especially handy when it comes to financing a leased lot home.  They are familiar with all of the documentation, so it’s a lot easier to work with them.

Do you own a leased lot home and have some advice to add?  Or maybe you have questions that I haven’t answered here.  If so, please comment on this post and I will do my best to answer anything else.

Related posts:

When Does The Water Level Go Down On Lake Martin?

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Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: The Ridge

Lake Martin The Ridge LogoRussell Lands has developed neighborhoods on Lake Martin for over thirty years, but its newest, The Ridge, is vastly different from any one it has done before.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in The Ridge area, CLICK HERE to go to my Ridge Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Russell Lands has gated communities like Willow Point, and the Ridge is near to its other developments of Windermere, Windermere West, and Windover.  But The Ridge is a totally new animal.  Here are 5 Things That Make The Ridge Different:

1.  Heavy emphasis on selling through approved builders – Russell Lands started this Lake Martin trend a few years ago with Phase I of The Ridge, and continues it with Phase III.  They sell a certain number of lots to “approved” builders, who build spec houses and then turn around and sell them for the builders.  In prior developments, they sold almost 100% to the end homeowner.  The use of approved builders gives them much greater control over the quality of the homes.  They also get a lot of design consistency on the look of the homes by also having “approved” architects.  I think this also drives up the price so that their initial offering lot price to homeowners is pretty high.  As far as I can figure there is no real “pre-construction” pricing.

2.  The Ridge Marina – Russell Lands owns plenty of marinas around Lake Martin, but The Ridge Marina is the only one that is inside the gates of one of their developments.  It is a safe bet to say that The Ridge Marina is one of the largest marinas Ridge marina stack storage - smallon the lake.  The marina is close to Chimney Rock by water.  They sell gas, they have a huge line of boats that they sell, and also sell boating and skiing accessories.  Another big part of their business is boat storage.  You can rent a wet slip (a parking spot at a dock), but they are more expensive and rare than dry storage.  Dry storage is where they stack your boat on a huge rack inside their warehouse.  When you are ready to go, they come pick it off the rack with a forklift and put it in the water.  No matter how many times I see that it still makes me nervous.  They are adding on to the dry storage.  A company official was quoted as saying the The Ridge Marina will have the “biggest dry storage east of the Mississippi.”  That’s big, friends.

Lake Martin The Ridge Club3. The Ridge Club – Russell Lands is currently building a 9,000 square foot clubhouse called The Ridge Club.  While Willow Point has its Golf and Country Club, Willow Point residents are not necessarily members of the club, and vice versa.  In the Ridge, however, part of the homeowner association dues pays for membership to The Ridge Club.  Planned amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, athletic fields, children’s play center, workout / cardio center, and a bar and grill.  From what I hear they have commercial lots set aside for possible restaurants, etc.  See the construction progress photos on the left.  It looks like it will be as nice as promised.

4.  Off water activities- Usually, in Lake Martin new construction developments, merely token emphasis is placed on off-water lots and properties.  At The Ridge, Russell Lands attempts to offer something to do off of the water, and (I assume) by association, raise Ridge club drawing - smallthe value of off-water residential lots.  They have designed sidewalks all through the Ridge, which is very different for the lake.  They also have cut in extensive walking trails through the woods around The Ridge.  I hear that the ultimate plan is to be able to walk, run, or bike on trails from The Ridge to Willow Point.  Look at a Lake Martin map to appreciate how huge of an area that is.  They also have plans for a town center located on highway 63, close to Windermere Road, that will have kitschy shops, a high end grocery store, and a gourmet restaurant.  (I will post more news as they confirm the details.)

5.  Marketing and Events – Russell Lands has promoted The Ridge like no other Lake Martin development.  If you haven’t received at least 3 mailers on it, you should have your feelings hurt, because they sent them to everyone in the area that pays taxes and has a pulse.  They also have been all over the home design type magazines.  Their homes have had multiple spotlights in Southern Living Magazine, and had tons of other regional media attention and write ups.  They also have really played up the Spring and Summer Tour of Homes.  This spring they have even tied the events in with a boat show at The Ridge Marina.  I have to hand it to them, it works. In the past ten years Lake Martin has gone from a regional treasure to getting attention on a national level.  This was due in large part to Russell Lands’ tirele$$ promotions.

If you wonder how long this will last, check the map.  They are selling Phase III now, with (I guess) a couple more phases left up the sleeve for The Ridge.  Then it’s on to the next big thing.  Does anyone have a guess on where the next one will be?  Comment below!

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Lake Martin Home Prices Not Affected By Sales Drop?

Lake Martin Alabama real estate Bull and bear argueRest easy.  Alabama home sales have dropped, but not on Lake Martin.  Or should you be alarmed that the average sales price of a home in Lake Martin plummeted 15% in one month?  Which is it?

On March 12, 2007, Patrick McCreless wrote an article in the Alex City Outlook entitled, “Home sales still strong on Lake Martin.”  The information he quoted was from the Alabama Real Estate Research and Education Center, which (I assume) got its data from our Lake Martin Area Multiple Listings Service.  While I do not disagree with any of the data in the article, I do think it presents an interesting look at analyzing statistics of our market.

Two main stats stuck out to me:

1.     Statewide, Alabama saw the number of homes sold drop 20.4% from December 06 to January 07.  The Lake Martin Area increased its number sold to 29 from 25 in December, for a gain of 16%.  Hence the analysis that we were unaffected by the State’s slump.  I agree.

2.     At the end of the article, it sneaks in that the Lake Martin Area’s average home sales price dropped in January to $181,310 from $213,716 in December.  Again, agreed.  But – couldn’t the headline easily have been “Lake Martin Home Prices Drop 15% in One Month?”

This same article could be used both by doomsdayers to prove evidence of a dreaded “bubble” in our market and by bullish folk saying that the market is still hot.  The seeming contradiction in interpreting the data is a classic case of trying to draw too many conclusions from too small a sample.  Any professor of Statistics will tell you that the smaller the sample, the greater margin of error.  In other words, if you poll the five people you play poker with on the question of who will be the next President, the chances of them being wrong are a lot bigger than if you selected five million registered voters, randomly distributed across geographic, economic, and political lines.

The point is – be careful when you try to interpret the data of a market like Lake Martin.  We have a broad mixture of Lake Martin Real estate Bulls and bears coexisttypes of properties – on / off the water, single / multi family, modern / rural, etc. – that are spread across a relatively small number of listings.  One big sale here or there can really affect the numbers, so watch out.  Try to gather as much information as you can.  Talk to many people in the business.  Are you confused about what your property is worth, or what you should pay for a place on the Lake?  I am always willing to give my honest two cents and would be glad to help! The only way I know to do it to tell it like I see it.  See the “comments” section on this post for my email to Patrick McCreless where I provide an opinion on the contradictory stats.

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Lake Martin A Top 12 US Vacation Home Market

lake martin real estate award wall street journalThe Lake Martin real estate market was honored again on November 9, 2006, by the Wall Street Journal’s RealEstateJournal.com, by being named a Top 12 Vacation Home market in the United States.

Regional and even national accolades are becoming common for Lake Martin.  In other words, the news is getting out.  I usually don’t pay much attention to such press, but this one really got my attention.  Not that I don’t agree, I honestly believe we have a national treasure in our backyard.  I can’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want a place on Lake Martin.  I guess what really got my attention was the source: THE Wall Street Journal – the Beacon of Capitalism, the paper divinely scribed by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand itself.  I love it.  I could read it with my hair on fire, as they say.   So when they honored the lake – I noticed – and so did millions of other readers.

Economists and writers can study and parse data all they want, but they are merely confirming what we all know to be Nerdtrue.  That is, while Lake Martin real estate prices have certainly risen in the last five years, on a national level we are still a relative bargain.  And here’s a more important fact but you can’t graph it – Lake Martin is one heck of a beautiful place.  I grew up on the lake, and therefore have talked to a lot of people about their families’ experiences here.  Maybe I have only met the happy ones, but I have never met a single person that said “you know I really regret buying that place on Lake Martin.”  Plenty have said “man, the biggest mistake I made was selling (or letting mama / daddy sell) that lake place.”  Nobody ever quotes their Return On Asset or their Debt To Equity Ratio of their lake home.  They talk about memories, fun, water, boats, fish and sun.

If you don’t like to hear all of that stuff, I’ll return to the hard facts of the Journal article.  Sure, Lake Martin has beautiful water, great views, peaceful mornings, fun nights – a rich, memory making Petri dish.  So do a lot of places in the nation.  But what we do have – that most don’t – are low property prices relative to the rest of the country.  I know it sounds crazy to the folks who have watched the prices rise – but the Journal’s statisticians looked and found that the property prices in Dadeville, Alabama – one of the towns close to Lake Martin – had really low property prices for second homes relative to local income and other economic factors.  In other words, they found that chances are slim that we are experiencing a dreaded B-word in real estate prices. I agree with them.  I also agree that there are certain segments of the market that have a lot of supply or are overpriced or both.  But, when compared as a whole to the rest of the nation’s vacation markets, we’re still a bargain – and a memory maker to boot.

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