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Lake Martin Development Restrictions

For Lake Martin waterfront homeowners and visitors alike, the Lake Martin Forum website is a great resource.  It’s an online chat room for Lake Martin people – but not in a weird Craigslist way.  You’ll see lots of practical questions and answers: where to go, what to do, what is the best place to find something?

A great discussion took place the other week, and I thought I’d share the question asked and then my response.  I get asked questions like this all the time, so I figure it’s worth passing on:

The Question:  My lake house is on a deeded lot near the amphitheater. I recently built a covered boat lift. Last weekend I raked and burned the leaves from our beach area.  A friend of mine, who lives in a Russell development, said covenants restricted him from doing either.

What other restrictions are covered in development properties?

Development and Restrictions Lake Martin

My answer:  This is an interesting discussion. Since you are not in a formal neighborhood with covenants and restrictions, you might not be familiar with other neighborhoods around the lake.

Lake Martin is like anywhere else in that if you buy a home or a lot that is subject to covenants or easements, you have to abide by their rules. Speaking in general for Russell Lands neighborhoods, it is correct that no covered boat docks are allowed.  Examples of these neighborhoods are, but not limited to, Willow Point, Windermere, Windover, Trillium, The Ridge, River Oaks, etc. When I am showing homes or lots in a neighborhood that I know is developed by Russell Lands, I am quick to tell the buyers that they can’t build a covered boat dock. The way it’s usually written in the neighborhood covenants is something like “nothing which exceeds three feet of the highest water level will be allowed.”

Burning leaves – that might be excluded in some Russell Lands neighborhoods, but I just checked the ones I have from Windermere, dated 1973, and I can’t find anything in there that prohibits it.  Maybe in other neighborhoods it is prohibited. I don’t know. I have seen some rules in others to the effect of “only burn leaves on days permitted by fire department” etc.  (One contributor said that contacting the Volunteer Fire Department in your area is a good idea, and I agree).

The key thing is to read the rules, covenants, and restrictions for each neighborhood that you consider, before you buy. All neighborhoods are different. Also be sure to get the most updated copy, as the original rules might have been amended.

For example, this year I listed a lot of lots in Emerald Shores. Most of them sold but we have a few left. One of the first things I did as the Listing Agent was to get a copy of the covenants and architectural restrictions, plus amendments. Emerald Shores’ covenants have three amendments, all dealing with covered docks. Originally they were prohibited. The first amendment allowed them, second overturned it, and finally the third allowed it. So covered boat docks are allowed in Emerald Shores.

Development and Restrictions Lake Martin

I usually advise buyers to make their offer contingent upon buyer’s favorable review of these documents. While I am not a lawyer, my understanding is whatever is recorded is the big deal. So you can research any deed in the courthouse, and it might say, “subject to covenants recorded on Page ABC Book XYZ” – that’s when you know to go look up that in the courthouse also.

Another thing to remember is that some parts of Lake Martin are just merely areas, not formal neighborhoods. I have a page on my blog that lists a lot (not all) of them, with links to more information on each. Hopefully this is helpful.

If you’re interested in Lake Martin waterfront real estate, give me a call.  I’ll do my best to answer your questions, and I will track down the answers for the ones I’m don’t know.  I’d love to be your realtor. (334)221-5862, [email protected], or click here to contact me.

http://www.lakesonline.com/Forum/show.asp?id=157197&fid=6EB63121-22CA-4F54-A718-45B4048F320B&tid=157194&SiteID=AL001

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Lake Martin Voice Realty Featured on Best of Real Estate Video

The Lake Martin waterfront real estate market is not what most people think of as a cutting edge market. We’re a rural second home market in Alabama – dirt roads, people. Does it get any more small town than that?

But small town does not always equal podunk.  You would not believe our real estate reach.  It amazes me all the time.

Last week I received a call from John Wake in Arizona. I had no idea what it was about. Turns out, he has a website called Best Of Real Estate Video.com – where he features the best real estate video folks from around the world. Some are small, boutique agencies in rural second home markets like Lake Martin Voice. Others are huge companies like Corcoran Group in megalopolises like New York.

 

Best of Real Estate Video Lake Martin Voice

 

Lake Martin Voice Realty is very pleased and flattered to be included in such an outstanding group. Please check out the site, they have tons of interesting links out there. We especially support their policy of: “I don’t consider virtual tours to be videos so Best of Real Estate Videos doesn’t include YouTube channels that are mainly virtual tours.”

People, if a “video” is just the photos set to cheesy music, it ain’t a video. Show me some motion. Show me some context.

Anyway, please check out their link:

http://bestofrealestatevideo.com/

For me, it’s an endless source of inspiration. When I am stumped on a subject for my next Lake Martin video, I can go over there and come away with an idea in about 30 seconds!

What is also tells me is that if this guy in Arizona finds great video info about Lake Martin real estate on LakeMartinVoice.com , so do lots of other people – buyers and sellers.  If you’d like to know more about how we can serve you, give me a call at (334) 221-5862, email me at [email protected], or click here to contact me.

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Days On Market Vs. Winter Anonymity

lake martin seller vs winterThis time of year at Lake Martin creates a question for some sellers in the real estate market.  That question centers around whether or not they should keep their waterfront home, condo, or lot on the market through the winter.

Lake Martin is a seasonal, second home market in a rural community. Most of our real estate sales happen between February and November. Currently, the lake level is drawn down ten feet in the winter. It gets chilly.

So is it worth it to keep your property on the market through the winter? Or should you, as a seller, take it off of the market and let it rest, only to be reborn in spring? The tradeoff seems to come down to Days On Market vs. Anonymity. That is, if you truly want to sell your Lake Martin home, what is worse, having a higher Days on Market in the spring, or not being on the market at all during the winter?

I think it’s better to be on the market. That way your waterfront property is in the Lake Martin MLS, all other agents know about it, and your listing agent can legally advertise it. Otherwise no one knows it’s for sale.

But on this issue, as with many others, I wanted to test to see if I was a lone dissenter. I recently wrote about the subject in my monthly column for Lake Magazine. In order to get some perspective, I interviewed fellow Lake Martin agents Becky Haynie of Lake Martin Realty, Carl Hopson of RealtySouth Lake Martin, and John Christenberry of Lake Martin Voice Realty.

They agreed with me, and gave some great examples. Here’s a link to the article on Lake Magazine’s website:

Why Stay On The Market Through Winter?

I guess I am biased since they agreed with me, but I think they are great points.

If you are considering selling your waterfront home, lot, condo, or acreage on Lake Martin, we would love to help you. Please hit the “Contact Us” button below or call at 334 221 5862.

 

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The $60 a Month Lake Martin Power Bill

Allow me to introduce you to Lake Martin’s first waterfront Passive House.  It’s very likely you will love this Blue Creek area home simply because it is beautiful.  But it’s also a cutting edge bastion of energy savings that will use roughly 80% less energy to operate than conventional buildings.

205 Old Cemetary Road Passive House Paul Gouin - 47

How can this be?  It’s a 3 story, almost 4,000 square foot home with huge windows in a hot, Southern climate. There are 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and two great rooms to heat and cool year round.  Builder Paul Gouin and Architect Bryan Jones are Lake Martin homeowners themselves, and know well the needs and challenges of waterfront living.  What they have created is an awesome melding of science and art – all within steps of the waters of Lake Martin, I may add.

This home is for sale. It can be yours.

I’m the listing agent, so call me (334) 221-5862 or email me ([email protected]) for more information, or CLICK HERE to go to the 205 Old Cemetery Road listing page.  MLS# 13-1168.

So what does Passive House mean?  I’ll borrow from Bryan Jones’ blog article on the subject. He writes that a passive house has several areas of focus:

  • A Super Insulated Envelope
  • Thermal Bridge-Free Detailing
  • Air-Tight Envelope
  • Advanced Windows & Doors
  • Energy Recovery Ventilation (a constant ventilation system instead of a conventional HVAC system that consumes lots of energy)
  • Efficient Systems (water heaters, appliances, etc.)

Passive House diagram

I liked what Bryan had to say about why design like this is interesting to him.  I don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate some of the big ideas influencing homes like this:

“What is interesting about Passive House to us?

  • Pretty houses with real substance – Our passion is designing beautiful site specific lifetime homes for people in context with the surrounding environment.  Sustainability has always been one of our 10 principles that we use to create better homes.  Passive House takes prescriptive sustainability to another level backed by pure building science and performance testing.
  • Science not a check list – The Passive House design process uses energy modeling of our design and specifications to predict how the design will perform in a particular orientation and climate.  The model returns energy performance data to determine if the house meets Passive House Criteria.  A house designed to meet Passive House Criteria should perform up to 80% better than a typical structure. The process is not clouded by a point system checklist offered by LEED for homes and the  EarthCraft program.
  • Energy modeling provides data for long term decisions -The Passive House energy model gives us a tool to help our clients make design and material decisions knowing operating cost over time vs. the initial construction cost.
  • Measured results – Passive House designs uses a 3rd party passive house RATER to perform testing during construction and at project commissioning.  We can verify for our clients that the high performance building that they paid for is performing as designed.
  • Passive survivability – What would happen if your house had no power available?  Designing a home for as low energy usage as possible along with photovoltaic panels means you could potentially run the house “off the grid” if required by inflated energy cost or by necessity.”

Construction is nearing completion.

The home is available for showing.  If you have questions, or find this type of construction intriguing, I’d love to talk to you.  If I can’t answer all of your questions, I can hook you up with the experts. Give me a call at (334) 221-5862, email me at [email protected], or click here to contact me.

205 Old Cemetary Road Passive House - 31

IMG_5985205 Old Cemetary Road Passive House - 34IMG_5998IMG_5999Introductory video for 205 Cemetery Road on Lake Martin:

 

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Keep It Simple: A Great Cabin Gets Better

When my clients, Kane and Emily, found this Lake Martin cabin last summer, they liked the whole package.  The home felt like a lake house, the lot was flat and wooded, there was plenty of shoreline.  It wasn’t too much house or too much lot.  It was just right.

And they knew that with a little tweaking, just a little renovation, it could be even better.  It could become “theirs.”

They’ve allowed me to share their before and after pictures of the remodel of their Lake Martin home. These photos show that simple changes like removing carpet can have a big impact.  New sod and covered entry can make a home look new.  Take a look and see how they made a difference by making smart changes during the renovation project.

Outside:

Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE – The street side entrance

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – a covered entrance and new landscaping

The new porch on the street side of the home is not a huge addition, but adds a more welcoming (and sheltered) spot to enter the home.  The lake side of the home is similar – small additions were made, building on what was already good about the lot.  The docks and sea wall were already there, and so was the hammock between the trees.  But adding new landscaping, a sandy beach area and a fire pit, makes this yard even more liveable, and really personalized to their needs:

Home from the water before

BEFORE – A view of the home from the dock.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – New sod and landscaping, plus a sandy beach.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: Sandy beach where a boat ramp once was.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: The view from the screened porch.

Inside:  The Kitchen and Dining Area

Inside, the changes of the redo were simple, but with great effect as well.  The floor plan remains the same, the kitchen and baths have not been radically altered.  But small changes like removing carpet make a big difference:

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE: The kitchen/eating area.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE: Another view of the kitchen area.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: No more blue carpet. New lighting.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: The floors lighten the room.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: The eating area gets new lighting.

The Living Room

Here’s the living room – it was already in good shape.  Let’s face it, in a second home like this on Lake Martin, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time hanging out. Kane and Emily realized this, and moved the TV over the fireplace and brought in their own the furniture:

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE

Great Cabin Redo

AFTER

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – The TV was moved over the fireplace.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER

The Master Bedroom

And finally, they removed the carpet in the lakeside master suite and it makes a huge difference!  I really had to look twice at the pictures to make sure this was the same room:

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE – Carpeted master suite.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE – Door and window looking to the water.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – Wood floors instead of carpet in the master bedroom.

Simple Cabin Renovation Lake Martin

AFTER – This looks like a new room.

Kane and Emily started out with a great cabin. As a matter of fact, I liked it so much, I showed it to my wife and my dad a couple of years before this. So from ground zero, they had a really nice Lake Martin home. But, by calling this a “simple” renovation, I run the risk of minimizing the amount of thought, effort and resources the new homeowners put into this transformation – perhaps I should say “smart” renovation instead.  Kane and Emily didn’t go overboard.  Instead they played up their cabin’s strengths.  This is what I mean by “smart” and I think they hit a home run!

If you’re looking for a cute cabin with good bones, but you just can’t see past the orange shag carpet and faux paneled walls, give me a call 334  221 5862 or email me here.  Let’s talk about your dream home, let’s discuss what is really essential in a good Lake Martin home  investment (the dirt, the view, the waterfront) and what things can be changed or overlooked for the time being (the choice of counter material, the screened porch that could be bigger).  I’d love to help and I’d love to be your Lake Martin real estate agent.

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Extreme Sea Wall Repair Part 3: Completion

It’s time for the final reveal.  Much like an Extreme Makeover Home episode, Henderson and Coker Contractors have resurrected a Lake Martin seawall that was a complete fail.  This was no minor seawall fail.  This was a seawall that had fallen over into the lake and taken a lot of earth with it – and dirt is dollars in waterfront real estate.  They allowed me to tag along and film the stages of construction, and now that the water is down for the winter months, I can show you the new seawall from the ground on up.

This time of year is great for inspecting and repairing Lake Martin sea walls.  As you can see from the video below, there’s a lot more to a seawall than the few feet that are exposed during the summer months.  This is a project for the pros.  The dirt beneath your lake home is the most valuable part of your lake investment, so make sure you protect it with a strong, well built sea wall.

Did you know that sea wall inspections are not typically part of the home buying inspection process?  Buyers should contact a sea wall professional and have a separate inspection completed if they are concerned about the condition of a lake home’s seawall.

I can’t inspect your seawall, but I can help you with Lake Martin real estate. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a Lake Martin home, give me a call and let’s talk about all the factors to consider when buying or selling.  I’d love to be your realtor. (334) 221-5862

For Parts 1 and 2 of this series, click on the links below:

Extreme Seawall Failure on Lake Martin: Part 1

Extreme Seawall Failure on Lake Martin Part 2: Rebuilding

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All of the Sudden, It’s Fall at Lake Martin

Fall at Lake Martin 2013 - 05

Happy Fall from Lake Martin!

I was driving near Irwin Shoals last Friday – an area considered by many to be the northern most point of Lake Martin – and I took these pictures so you can see the fall colors that are bursting all over the Lake Martin area.

Fall at Lake Martin 2013 - 12

If you’ve never spent much time at the lake during the fall and winter, let me encourage you to make it a priority.  It’s peaceful, it’s beautiful,  and there are lots of outdoor things to do (see my hiking links at the end of this post).  Fall is a great time to be at Lake Martin.

In the real estate world, buyers are still out there looking for waterfront property.  History tells us that most Novembers and Decembers don’t have many home sales – people are just busy with the holidays, I guess. That being said, I’m about to have a new listing in the Jackson’s Gap area, and have had two other Lake Martin homeowners request CMAs today.

If you’re thinking about buying a waterfront property, give me a call and let’s discuss the year round of appeal of Lake Martin.  If you’re thinking about selling, let’s talk about ways to use your time wisely and get your home ready to market, either now or in the spring.

For a taste of the outdoor fun at Lake Martin in the fall:

Little Smith Mountain Hiking Trail at Lake Martin

All Trails App Maps the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trails on Lake Martin

Deadening Alpine Trail on Lake Martin

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Awesome Home Pics By ReMax Around The Lake

We here at Lake Martin Voice Realty are professional real estate agents, and know good marketing when we see it. We try to be the best, but we don’t mind admitting when we see our fellow Lake Martin agents doing something awesome. Everyone should take a look at the incredible aerial photos posted on Facebook by Toni Adcock of ReMax Around the Lake. Really, this is groundbreaking. If you are reading this post from other spots around the nation, I ask you, are agents in your town going this far? Are they trying this hard? I am telling you, this is impressive:

 lake martin quadcopter shot

Toni’s husband Phil Adcock took these pictures using a GoPro Camera, mounted on a DJI Phantom quadcopter. Technical assistance and photography consulting was given by Matt Adcock of Del Sol Photography. Toni is the listing agent of 116 Hilyer Road. To contact Toni about this home, go to her website or call her at 256-234-1327.

aerial shot of lake martin by quadcopter

I am even more impressed by this because I also own a Phantom quadcopter and have been experimenting on flying it for real estate photography and videography. I need a lot more practice with mine before I am ready for the bigtime, as you can see by this wreck I had.

lake martin by air

I am convinced that using tools like the Phantom quadcopter will usher in a new level of marketing in real estate. I was inspired several months ago by seeing what some commercial agents are doing with it, and I thought it would be a natural fit for Lake Martin, thus my experimentation. Kudos to Toni and Phil for having the talent and the hard work to get it to a point that it is useful. That kind of dedication is rare in this industry and I think it is so cool to be in a place like Lake Martin where we have so many talented agents that are thinking of creative ways to help out their sellers.

Well done Toni, Phil, Matt, and ReMax Around The Lake!!!!

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Secrets of Lake Martin Brokers

Lake Martin real estate broker secretsI love the Wall Street Journal. Reading it is one of my favorite pasttimes. They have a regular section now called “Mansions” that covers real estate. On a recent Friday I was intrigued by a front page tease that read “Secrets of Top Brokers.” Naturally, as a real estate broker here at Lake Martin, I wanted in on the secrets. I flipped to page M1 and found the article, penned by Lauren Schuker Blum, titled “The Battle For the Big Deal.”

I was immediately disappointed.

The article was about the competitive nature of getting high priced listings in places like Malibu, LA, etc. It’s bottom line was that these ultra cool brokers have to battle hard to win a $40 million listing. They throw lavish parties and have in-house computer nerds to cultivate top secret databases of high rollers. Wow.

Don’t get me wrong, the article was well written and had plenty of pretty pictures. But the usability of these secrets by the average agent or even the average home seller is absolutely zero. (Who is going to spend $10,000 on a VIP house party?)

I guess I should not expect a practical article from a section of the WSJ called “Mansions.” I also can’t blame them for splashing flashy home pictures (I call it house porn) to catch the eye and entertain. I can’t help but wonder, though, what would happen if the WSJ would ask one of their talented writers, perhaps Ms. Blum, to turn their eye to the not so extraordinary. Sure, it’s easy to think of crazy ways to promote a home when Presidents have slept there and your potential commission is in the millions. What are the secrets of brokers or agents who actually sell normal homes?

Lake Martin Real Estate Secrets

I can tell you that there are no secrets for the Lake Martin real estate market, or anywhere else for that matter. If you want to sell a waterfront home, lot, or condo, you must pay attention to what I call the Holy Trinity of Real Estate:

  1. Pricing – You absolutely must price your home correctly. Yes, the market here at Lake Martin has rebounded since its low in 2008. But I don’t think we have evidence of price increases. Check my market reports and see if you agree. As a Lake Martin seller, you must price your home within 5% or 10% of what the market likes, or it will sit there. Buyers expect deals, research extensively, and can walk away. “I will price mine a little high. You can’t go up but you can always come down” you might say. I say – you can’t come down if you don’t get an offer. You won’t get an offer if you are priced too high to begin with.
  2. Marketing – You or your agent must market your Lake Martin home aggressively. A sign in the yard won’t do it anymore. Three fuzzy pictures in the MLS? Please. You have to have a full court press of well done pictures, full motion video, scads of backup information, just to stay in the conversation. You have to have a supercharged website to break through the noise and get found. In online marketing today, pretty is as pretty does. If people can’t Google it and find it, it might as well not exist. The old realtor trick of putting scant info out there so the buyer will call the agent and the agent will “sell them” on the home – is dead. Here is a modern truth – NO ONE WANTS TO TALK TO REAL ESTATE AGENTS – including me. They only call the agent on the last resort. Buyers research and research online so they don’t have to ask the agent, whom they perceive is cheesy and just out to say whatever. As an agent, I must realize that and earn trust by putting as much info online as possible. Another truth – put the marketing focus on the property. Not the agent.
  3. Staging – Staging is getting your home looking good to sell. Clean it up. Paint. Replace the rotten wood. Declutter. Depersonalize. Get all that junk out of the way that detracts from the view. People are here for Lake Martin. Don’t distract from that with petty repairable.

Are you considering selling your Lake Martin home, lot, condo, or some other property? We would love the chance to talk to you about it. We can get it done. We have the knowledge and experience to price it accurately. No other agency on Lake Martin, no matter how big, can even come close to our online marketing. The huge amount of traffic to this website are facts, not idle boasts. We can also help you stage your home to sell.

How to get started? Request a Comparable Market Analysis here or email us at info at lakemartinvoice dot com. Or call me at 334 221 5862!

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Russell Lands Expands The Ridge Phase III

Lake Martin developer, Russell Lands, is expanding in Phase III of The Ridge.  They’ve had plans to do this for a while, but the old Dixie Sailing Club occupied part of that area designated for Phase III.  When Lake Martin’s real estate market picked up, Dixie Sailing Club’s location was moved to a new location in Young’s Basin.  Once the club was moved, the signs were clear for everyone that Russell Lands felt optomistic about the future of waterfront real estate and Phase III in The Ridge.

On Columbus Day, I was out on the boat doing market research – by that I mean my family was taking our the last tube ride of the year on a beautiful, sunny, October Monday.  I saw some smoke billowing up from the old Dixie Sailing Club area near Chimney Rock, so I drove closer to check it out.  Russell Lands had their heavy equipment out, tearing down and burning the old Sailing Club cabins.  Check out the picture and video below of the house-less docks, the burn pile, and the big machines.

The Ridge Phase III Clearing Underway

The Ridge is a huge , gated development that is centrally located on Lake Martin.  I just helped a family close a house last week in Phase III of The Ridge.  I love that area – some of the lots and homes in Phase III have views of Kowaliga Bay, and others have views toward the Chimney Rock area. It’s close to The Ridge Marina, and all home owners have access to The Ridge amenities like the clubhouse, tennis courts, pool, beach club, etc.

If you’d like more info on The Ridge, check out my Neighborhood Page.  Here you’ll find a history of the development, map, video tour, PLUS a live feed from the MLS of all homes and lots currently for sale.  I design my Neighborhood Pages to be one-stop-shops for the different developments and geographic areas around Lake Martin.  There are over 700 miles of shoreline at Lake Martin, and I want to make it as quick and easy as possible for you to learn our market.

I wrote about this part of Phase III in my LAKE Magazine column, “Peek into the Big Boys’ Mind” (Dec 2012).  To read the entire article, click here.  If you’re interested in waterfront real estate on Lake Martin, give me a call and let’s talk about why I think the progress on Phase III of The Ridge is good for our entire market.  I sell Lake Martin property exclusively, everyday, and I’d love to be your realtor.  Call me at (334) 221-5862, email me at [email protected], or click here to contact me.  Thanks!

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