2015 is Lake Martin’s Best Year Ever!

Lake Martin had its best year ever for waterfront real estate sales in 2015.  Sales were better in 2015 than in the big real estate days of 2005. Please take a look at this market report for the Lake Martin waterfront real estate market. I shot this video in January with preliminary numbers, but they held true:

The Lake Martin real estate market report for 2015 reflects record numbers of waterfront homes sold and waterfront lots sold.2015 home sales

As you can see in the above chart waterfront home sales in the Lake Martin area were 24% ahead of the previous high in 2014 – with 360 sales in 2015.

December 2015 lot sales chart

And looking at the chart above waterfront lot sales were 15% ahead of 2014 – with 85 sales in 2015.

Keep in mind, these numbers are compiled from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service*.

The bottom line for Lake Martin waterfront real estate sales in 2015:

The bottom line is that we had a fantastic year here at Lake Martin. If you have been reading this blog or my column on AL.com, you know that all of 2015 has been outstanding. It really was just a matter of how great it was going to be.

Any time that any real estate market beats the prior year in number of sold units, that’s a great year. We have been doing this in the waterfront segment of Lake Martin since 2008, with no signs of slowing down.

What, if any, were the disappointments in the Lake Martin real estate market in 2015?

I had hoped for the “Triple Crown” – that is, 1.) Top year number of waterfront homes sold, 2.) top year of number of waterfront lots sold, and 3.) increase in waterfront home prices. While we definitely had the top number of waterfront homes sold on Lake Martin, and also an increase in pricing, we did not have the top year in number of lot sales. It’ snot like we had a bad year in lot sales. 85 sales is nothing to sneeze at, but it did not best the previous record of in 2005.

What about the future? Won’t the election hurt sales at Lake Martin? Or China’s economic slowdown? Or [insert your favorite doom and gloom item here]?

I think the Lake Martin waterfront real estate market is set up for another wonderful year in 2016. I don’t pay attention to macro-economic trends and I darn sure don’t listen to the so-called NAR economists. I watch the local numbers. As long as we are beating the prior year, I am not calling an end to this bull market. Beating the same month from the prior year is per se an increasing market.

For example, as great as 2015 was here at Lake Martin, please note that 9 waterfront homes were sold in January of 2015. Compare that with 12 sold in January 2016. As a market, we have already sold as many waterfront homes in the first 17 days of February 2016 than we did in the entire month of February 2015.

In other words, 2015 was hot, but 2016 is starting hotter!!

When it slows down, trust me, I will be the first one to call it. I am not afraid to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But until then, don’t worry about the price of tea in China because it apparently is not affecting Lake Martin real estate.

If you have any questions, please contact John Coley with Lake Martin Voice Realty at 334 221 5862 or emailing directly at john (at) lakemartinvoice (dot) com.

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Copyright notice – the above, and every other post on this blog, is the property of John Coley, Broker, Lake Martin Voice Realty. Appraisers may use my information in their appraisals without charge or asking, but please give me credit by citing me, my company name and title, and website address of http://lakemartinvoice.com.  If anyone else would like to use this information, please contact me here and ask. I probably will let you do it, just please ask!

(*)Disclaimers: All of the above info was taken from the Lake Martin Area Association of RealtorsMultiple 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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Lake Martin Striped Bass Report – Fall 2015

Lake Martin, Alabama has awesome striped bass fishing in the fall.
Lake Martin striped bass

Here at Lake Martin we are proud to be one of the best freshwater fisheries for the Striped Bass in the USA. Fall is one of the best times to fish for them since the water temperatures cool down and the big boys come up from the depths. Above is a picture of a nice striper that one of my sons caught this time last year. We had a cold snap in the middle of last October and it was chilly, but the fishing was awesome!!

I continue to try and crack the code on how to reliably catch striped bass on Lake Martin with my fly rod. If anyone out there has any tips- please contact me here or call at the number at the top of the page and let me know!!

I recently found this article that gives some really good tips for fly fishing for saltwater stripes on inland lakes. Here’s another one (featuring none other than Dave Whitlock) that gives a plug for Lake Martin: Fly Fisherman Magazine. I also have discovered a ton of great fly tiers online – like Brandon Bailes of Panther Branch Bugs.

One great tip I have seen online is to hook up with and learn from the local guides, no matter their fishing method. The above saltwater striped bass was caught when I was being guided by David Hare of Alex City Guide Service. David fishes with bait most of the time, but he has an unparalleled knowledge of the stripers on Lake Martin. Therefore, I pay close attention to what he says! Here are his two most recent Lake Martin Striped Bass fishing reports. They tell you what to expect when fishing in November, and then October (because I was too slow to post it last month). If you have any questions, please contact David directly at:

Alex City Guide Service
Captain David Hare
256-401-3089
[email protected]

Alex City Guide Service.com

Lake Martin Striped Bass November Report, By David Hare

Date Written: October 13, 2015

Water Levels 487.15 (490.00 full pool)
Clarity / Clear to very clear
Surface Temp: 70* – 74*

November starts my favorite time for big, big stripers! In fact for the next 8 months the day trips will be awesome!!!!! With water temps cooling down I will be focusing on the biggest of the big stripers by spending most of my time in shallower areas of Lake Martin, then the creek channels, and for sure not overlooking the river channel. Each day I will prepare my bait well with different size baits but making sure I load some of my largest shad I have.

Every year around this time I read articles that some say the bite slows down in the winter because of the fish’s metabolism! Well maybe for some but for the fish that I target (trophy stripers) my action and bites actually seem to get much better. It seems to never fail that we keep our taxidermist plenty of work through out the winter.

If you have trouble with boating stripers just try your luck with much bigger baits including much bigger artificial baits. Again, don’t rely on all big bait but as I fish 6 rods or baits at a time I will always have at least 4 of the 6 loaded with bigger size baits.

Until next time get off that couch and get on the water for a big fish!

As always call me for your trip of a lifetime.

Lake Martin Striped Bass October Report, By David Hare

Date Written: September 11, 2015
Water Level: 488.3 (full pool 490.00)
Very Clear on lower end to clear on upper end
Surface Temp 82*-85.5*

Sitting here on my deck next to the water, there’s a nice breeze coming across the water and feeling early fall in the air. Dressed with a long sleeve shirt on which actually feels good and makes me want to start my fall fishing pattern but I know I actually have several more days before the water temps get me or I should say get the fish in the fall pattern. By the time you’re reading this hopefully water temps have fallen and the stripers have once again started that transition to a new feeding pattern on Lake Martin. Every October, I burn more gas than any other month of the year just staying on these fast moving creatures. Each day can be a different location for catching so I always tell my clients patience as always is the key to landing these monsters and October can definitely test even the most patient fisherman. However, don’t worry! We still come to the docks most days with great catches just a little more gas burned, a little more patience used up and several more baits used up.

Do not overlook any area of the lake this month when fishing, this is one month you are liable to catch a striper anywhere and anytime of the day and yes night too! That’s right, not all stripers are going to switch to the day bite at the same time so if you’re a night owl get out there and boat yourself a night time monster!

All of our bass guides are excited because they say fall bass fishing is awesome here on Lake Martin and produces some very large bags of spotted bass. They will be spending a lot of time in the mouths of creeks in search of the amazing fish. Break out your spinner baits and go see what you can put in your boat. Be prepared for that monster strike from a striper while doing this because, yes, Lake Martin striped bass will blow up on a spinner bait. Just 3 years ago I was talking to a bass fisherman that had boated a 42 pound striper on a spinner bait that morning near the Wind Creek boat ramp area.

For you laid back fisherman that don’t care what bites as long as something is pulling on the line I would suggest trolling some crank baits that run several different depths. By doing this trolling method you are liable to catch big stripe, white bass, crappie and yes, spotted bass! If I didn’t have a umbrella rig I would go purchase a couple to put out while I was trolling. Better yet, put one big rig and one Alabama rig out (much smaller) at the same time to increase your chances, I think you will be pleased at the results. In October, the best trolling speeds is 2.5 mph to 3.5 mph.

As always folks, wear a PFD (life jacket), show respect for fellow fishermen, and be a defensive driver. Constantly watch out for other boaters and for sure this time of year the shallow spots that you do not have in the summer.

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Lake Martin Real Estate Report For June 2015

June waterfront home sales on Lake Martin were up 44% from last year!

June 2015 homes MONTHLY with percent

Yes, you read that right. The Lake Martin real estate market is doing well this summer. June of 2015 beat last year in sales by 44%. That’s not the only good news! If you look at the year to date, we are selling well ahead of the prior year. 2015 is beating 2014 by 26%! That is impressive because 2014 was a record year of home sales on Lake Martin, even better than 2005.

June 2015 homes year to date with percent

ACRE pointed out on AL.com that supply is down 6.8% and we are still having rising demand and sales even with a lesser supply.  You can read more from this article on AL.com by clicking HERE.

Another factor that is incredible is that lot sales are pacing far ahead this year as well. We have sold 46 lots through the Lake Martin MLS. That’s all realtors and all brokerages in the Lake Martin area. Last year at this time we had sold 25 lots through the MLS, and last year was a great year for lot sales.

Just to recap, waterfront homes are pacing ahead by 46% and lot sales are pacing ahead by 84%. Overall, we are doing great in sales so far! Keep updated with Lake Martin market statistics HERE.

June 2015 Lot sales with percent.jpg

If you have any questions or need real estate help on Lake Martin, feel free to contact me, John Coley, with THIS FORM or at john (at) lakemartinvoice (dot) com or  334 221 5862.

Would you like to search the Lake Martin MLS from your smart phone? Then download the Lake Martin Voice free app!

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Spring 2015 Market Report for Lake Martin

March 2015 was another great month for Lake Martin waterfront home sales.

The graph below was provided by the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE). On it you can see the number of homes sold monthly and the amount of inventory in the Lake Martin area during those months. ACRE’s chart shows the months of March for 2007 through 2015.

March has been consistently been a good month for Lake Martin waterfront home sales.(*) In 2015, 36 homes were sold in the month of March. This number includes sales from all brokerages and real estate agencies that participate in the Lake Martin MLS. In 2014, there were 28 homes sold in the month of March, so there was an 8 home increase in sales from 2014 to 2015. This is impressive, because 2014 was a record year for sales. The previous record year for sales was in 2005, when 30 waterfront homes were sold in March.

Lake Martin Home Price Changes?

A question I hear a lot is, “if Lake Martin home sales are up, what about prices?”

It’s a great question. When I looked back at the entire year of 2014, I did not see evidence of a huge price increase for waterfront property. What I saw, maybe, was a slight increase. Perhaps a couple of percent, but it’s hard to parse the numbers that tightly. Looking forward, I think you have to consider the amount of waterfront homes for sale right now on Lake Martin.

There are currently 358 homes for sale right now in the Lake Martin MLS. In comparison, there were 324 homes for sale at this time in 2014. Back in 2005, there were 180 homes for sale and prices went up from 2005 to 2006.  To emphasize this point, I cut the ACRE chart down to only the years of 2005, 2014, and the current year.  For example, in 2005, when we had 180 homes for sale and selling 30 homes a month, it was only 6 months of inventory being sold.

I think that 2015 will be the first year in a while that we will be able to go up in price. I don’t think we will see huge (30%) price jumps like we saw in 2005 because of the ratio of sales to inventory. But I do think we have a pretty good chance for a home price increase here at Lake Martin.

Only time will tell, so check back for more market reports as the year goes on.

Do You Need Help At Lake Martin?

I’m a full time real estate agent here at Lake Martin. I write these market reports help my clients. Do you need help with buying or selling at Lake Martin, please contact me, John Coley, by using this contact form, calling me at 334 221 5862 or emailing directly at john (at) lakemartinvoice (dot) com.

Copyright notice – the above, and every other post on this blog, is the property of John Coley, Broker, Lake Martin Voice Realty. Appraisers may use my information in their appraisals without charge or asking, but please give me credit by citing me, my company name and title, and website address of http://lakemartinvoice.com.  If anyone else would like to use this information, please contact me here and ask. I probably will let you do it, just please ask!

(*)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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February 2015 Lake Martin Market Report

Often, I’m asked, “How is the market doing in 2015 compared to 2014?” In short, I think its doing great! If you look at the graph below provided by the Alabama Center for Real Estate, you can see that February 2015 sales doubled from February 2014. In February 2015, sales were at 14, compared to sales at 7 in February 2014.

Feb 2015 market report graph

The yellow line, represents the inventory levels. The levels are the same, and certainly a lot better than they were in the dark days of 2007. Overall, when you look at the big picture, you can see that supply on the inventory side is similar and demand on the sale side is similar. We are poised for another great year here at Lake Martin.

Hear more about this in the video below.

 

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2014 Is Lake Martin’s Best Year Ever

Lake Martin had its best year ever for waterfront real estate sales in 2014. This year’s real estate market report reflects record numbers of waterfront homes sold and waterfront lots sold.

Close readers of my prior market reports for Lake Martin will note that the previous record year for home sales was 2005. In that year, 285 waterfront homes, townhomes, and condos were sold in the Lake Martin MLS(*). It remained the high water mark as sales started to slide the very next year, bottoming with a miserable 137 waterfront homes  sold in 2008.

Do you remember 2008? I do. In 2007 we had no rain. In 2008 we saw few home sales.

Thankfully, the Lord God provided rain and lack of supply combined for the Lake Martin market to bounce back in 2009. As you can see on the above chart, the lake had 194 sales in 2009, a full 42% spike in one year.

Why do I go over these old numbers when I am supposed to be talking about 2014?

Because I think it is worthy to remember how everyone – ( well – almost everyone, see my point #3 to buyers in this report from 2008) – back then said “things will NEVER get back to the old days. We will NEVER see Lake Martin sell like 2005 again.” Wrongo. Incorrect. I heard the naysayers back then and I still hear someone say that at least once a month now.

Here is proof positive that you should never say never.  Seriously. Go back to my Lake Martin market reports in 2008 here and look at it.

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Sales

You also might remember that 2013 was a huge year for waterfront lot sales here on Lake Martin. Did we repeat that feat in 2014? Yes.

Unbelievably, waterfront lot sales were higher in 2014 on Lake Martin than 2013. One might be tempted to conclude that this is only because Alabama Power Company, a private utility and major waterfront landowner, decided to sell a bunch of lots in both years. However, even if you remove the 23 lots Alabama Power sold in 2014 through the MLS, it would still leave 51 lots sold, which is way better than 2012. Similarly, in 2013 only 17 of these waterfront lots sold were from Alabama Power. Remove those, and the record still stands.

FAQ About My 2014 Lake Martin Real Estate Market Report

1.) What prices do in 2014 on waterfront homes? I will cover Lake Martin’s pricing trends in a later post. But my quick answer is that I did not see a huge price jump. I will detail this in the future.  Please stay tuned.

2.) If we beat 2005 for the best year ever, I guess that means now we will start sliding again? Not necessarily. I calls them as I sees them. When sales start slumping and losing to the prior year, I will be the first to say it. But not before then. Mark my words, in a free market, everything has a cycle. Yes, Lake Martin will experience another contraction some time in the future, just not now. Right now we are booming. Also, since I strongly believe that price follows sales, I don’t think we can call a peak until we see upward price movement.

3.) What do you do in real life? I am not a blogger or writer by trade. I am a humble real estate agent here at Lake Martin. I write these market reports and other items to try and be helpful. If I may help you buy or sell something here at Lake Martin, please contact me by clicking here. I would love to be of assistance.

 

Related Posts About Lake Martin Real Estate Market Reports:

Lake Martin 2012 Waterfront Market Report
Lake Martin 2013 Waterfront Market Report

All Lake Martin Waterfront Market Reports

Copyright notice – the above, and every other post on this blog, is the property of John Coley, Broker, Lake Martin Voice Realty. Appraisers may use my information in their appraisals without charge or asking, but please give me credit by citing me, my company name and title, and website address of http://lakemartinvoice.com.  If anyone else would like to use this information, please contact me here and ask. I probably will let you do it, just please ask!

(*)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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YeeHaw!! Will 2014 Be Great or Incredible at Lake Martin?

I originally wrote this article about Lake Martin waterfront real estate sales for LAKE Magazine’s August 24th edition. As summer winds down, we have a chance to look at the Lake Martin MLS sales numbers and try and get a picture of what has happened with waterfront sales so far this year . . .

If this month’s real estate market report was a Dukes of Hazzard episode, this would be the moment when Bo and Luke, driving furiously in the General Lee, round a curve and spot a “Bridge Out” sign that spans a muddy river. The camera would freeze on their expressions of “uh oh.” Waylon would say something witty, and the network would cut to commercial.

General Lee blueinkfiction.com

The question in the viewer’s mind: Will this be great? Or mind blowing?

With Roscoe in hot pursuit, there is little doubt that the Dukes would jump the creek and escape.  But, there’s a slim chance that the car might roll three times while Luke shoots a dynamite-laden arrow at a falling tree, saving some innocent bystanders in its path. Incredible!

We would still be amazed if they merely jumped the creek.

We find ourselves in a similar spot this month as we review the Lake Martin real estate market reports.
I examined the Lake Martin Multiple Listings Service (MLS) waterfront home sales for Jan. 1, 2014, through July 31, 2014. These results include all agents in the area but none from private sales between individuals or developers.

After reviewing the numbers, I have no doubt that the Lake Martin area is going to have a great year. But will it be incredible? Will we see the most homes sold since the record year of 2005?

The careful reader will recall that last year, in 2013, we were asking the same questions (“Lake Martin Lots Selling Hot in 2013”).  Through the end of July in 2013 there were 138 homes sold. That year did not end up beating the record of 2005, but it came close while trouncing the second place effort of 2006.  If we fast forward to the present, we see that through July 31, 2014, 168 homes have been sold, or 22 percent above 2013. We are tracking above last year, which was the second best year on record. Not bad.

But what if we look at how many waterfront homes were sold at this same point in 2005? Through July 31, all agents, all brokerages in 2005 sold 178 homes on the MLS, which is about 6 percent greater than this year.  We are not on a winning pace, but we are close. We are stalking the leader and coming down the stretch.

What about waterfront lots?

Shady Bay Lot 13 Phase 2

The year 2013 was a record breaker for waterfront lots sold on the Lake Martin MLS. For the entire year, area agents combined sold 71 lots, whipping the previous record of 55 in 2005 and almost doubling the prior year of 38 in 2012.

Are Lake Martin waterfront lot sales still hot in 2014?  In a word, yes.

The year 2014 is tracking just behind 2013. Through July 31 last year, we had sold 37 waterfront lots in the Lake Martin MLS. At the same date this year, 34 had been sold. I think that a difference of only three is not much to worry about, statistically, so it’s safe to say we are on pace with last year.  At any rate, we have all but guaranteed that 2014’s lot sales total will best 2012 and 2011.  I also think it is safe to say that this year will beat 2005.

So we return to the original question: Will 2014 be great, or will it be incredibleWe will know in a few months. My guess is that, on the home sales front, we will come really close to 284 waterfront homes sold but will not beat it.  There are 60 homes under contract at this writing, but not enough inventory, I think, to beat the record. Similarly, I think Lake Martin will see very close to 71 lot sales, but not materially more.

Don’t be disappointed if Luke doesn’t fire a dynamite-tipped arrow, we still will have had a great year if sales approach those numbers.

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Lake Martin Market Reports Yield Great Feedback

The Lake Martin waterfront real estate market is a unique animal. I try hard to provide meaningful market reports, built on math and not assumptions. I recently sent out my 2013 Year End Review via email. In it, I asked for suggestions on how to improve my report.

Letter from readersI received two very interesting emails, and thought I would publish them here. I would like to once again thank these readers for their input, and continue to ask for suggestions, and challenges, to my published numbers and analysis. With such a small number of homes sold each year, it’s critical to have good information. You won’t ever hurt my feelings if you think I am wrong or looking at something the wrong way. On the contrary, I would love to hear from you.

Here is the first email:

On Feb, 2014,  “Paul” wrote:

Just read though your email – great to see sales and construction activity continue to climb. You mentioned that you do not necessarily see price appreciation…..yet. Presumably you have the aggregate of sales dollars per annum. Does that not evidence any increase in avg sale/property?
Just curious because I was wondering how much the rate environment (which is still very favorable) could have an impact on discretionary/second home real estate purchases.

And my response:

Begin forwarded message:

From: John Coley
Subject: Re: sales data
Date: March, 2014
To: “Paul”

Hey “Paul,” thanks for your email. I don’t really look at aggregate sales dollar figures because I am not sure it is representative. For instance, the aggregate sales data in 2013 is going to be about double of 2008. But – 263 homes were sold in 2013 compared to 137 homes in 2008. If you looked at aggregate sales data you would be tempted to conclude that values have doubled since 2008, which certainly does not meet the smell test. I don’t know of any market anywhere that has doubled since 2008. In fact, I think values dropped slightly in 09 and have been steady since then. My bell curve chart and real world examples (homes bought in 08 that are for sale now) confirm that. But it is certainly interesting to consider.

As to interest rates – I don’t think rates mean a hill of beans to the average buyer. I think their interest rate sensitivity is zero. I have never run the numbers, but now that I know how to do so (I plan to do it like I did for WF footage and lot size) – I might try it. Stay tuned to my blog in the next few weeks, I am publishing the math behind my studies of price per WF foot.

Great to hear from you!

And the second email:

Dear John:
You asked for input on your charts, so being a CPA I couldn’t resist giving some! The chart you are using to determine whether prices are increasing I don’t think is accurate for that purpose. For example, let’s say in 2014 a lot of people in the $700,000 price range bought a lot of houses, let’s say 25% of all 2014 sales – the chart would of course spike at the $700,000 level indicating only that more people are buying houses at that level than they did in previous years. If the $700,000 buyers were buying houses that were previously sold for significantly less (i.e. a big price increase had occurred), the chart would not indicate that.

I don’t know if you have the data, but I believe a very meaningful chart re: price fluctuations would be to calculate the dollar sales per square foot, by subdivision, by year. That would certainly capture any price fluctuations. Since the subdivisions are all in different categories (i.e. comparing the Ridge to Trillium, or Blount’s Point area to Willow Point) cannot be meaningfully done.
I would love to see a chart that lists sales dollars per square foot, by subdivision, by year. Can you get your hands on that kind of data?

Many thanks for your very valuable research.

– “C.E.”

My response:

From: John Coley

Subject: Re: Lake Martin – February 2014
Date: March, 2014
To: “C.E.”

Hey “C.E.”, thanks for your email. I appreciate a fellow numbers guy giving me input. I am always on the lookout to build a better mousetrap and to similarly test assumptions of my own.

Re: per square foot – I think this stat is extremely misleading at the lake. The reason is that so much of a home’s value is tied up in the lot. PSF analysis works well in things like condos where everything is the same, but lake property is way too diverse and has too high a percentage of overall value tied up in the lot. See a post I did on my blog, way back in 2007:

5 Mistakes When Buying Real Estate on Lake Martin

There is zero correlation between sales price and square footage of home.

In that post I also mention the price per waterfront foot of a lot and its deceptive nature. Coincidentally, I just ran the numbers on that using 2013 sales. I will be posting the results on my blog. I did a scatter plot, and a correlation coefficient calculation. Where +1 is a perfectly direct relationship, 0 is no relationship, and -1 is a perfect indirect relationship, I found that waterfront footage only has about a 0.47 correlation, or classified as a secondary correlation by statisticians. Interestingly, the size of the lot (overall acreage) has a zero correlation. This math confirmed for me that when I am valuing lots, and therefore valuing homes, the most accurate method is to start with a comparable sales method, looking at similar location, view, privacy, and water quality. I secondarily adjust for WF footage, and do not adjust at all for acreage.
I will take a look at your suggestion of analysis by neighborhood. I am doing that already for a neighborhood report, but looking at PSF data on homes in a neighborhood will vary even more greatly because of our small sample pool. That’s why I only do price analysis once a year – in Willow Point there were only 8 homes sold in the last 12 months, from 600k to 2.2 million. When your sample pool is that small, it won’t normalize easily, and one home sale can thrown the whole thing in a wreck and make year to year comparisons inaccurate at worst. But all this does make for interesting discussion!!!

Regarding your example of the 700,000 category – if you look at the most recent example, in 2011 there was a spike in the over 1 million range. You can see the hump up there. Spikes like this are the prime reason I broke it all down to price strata, and also to look a year’s worth of sales. I am trying to normalize out the outliers. But again, great food for thought! Thanks!

Thanks for your email!!

It is so humbling that people read my market reports, much less take the time to comment on them and get me to really think about the conclusions I draw.  It helps more than you know.  A huge thanks for your feedback, and please keep it coming!

C.E., in a later email, suggested that I look at the percentage of and direction of change in per square foot pricing on Lake Martin waterfront home sales. His point was that while the raw number might not be useful, the direction thereof might be, kind of like the DJI in the stock market. I think this is a cool idea and worth some further study!

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Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Pricing: An In-Depth Study, Part 3

How do we know the value of a Lake Martin waterfront lot?  Have you ever seen two that are exactly alike?  Do appraisers base their finding based on a feeling, or is there a formula?

Yes, there are several formulas, but only one that works at Lake Martin:  Comparable Sales.

Every now and then, out-of-town appraisers come to Lake Martin and are paid to make decisions about property value on our lake.  And they often bring their city-style pricing methods with them.  I’ve seen it enough, and have had to have this conversation with buyers often enough that I felt a real study of lot pricing methods was due.  I wanted to combine our MLS sales data with the anecdotal evidence I’ve been collecting for years.

I’ve been saying for a few weeks now (Part 1 and Part 2 of this series) that Lake Martin waterfront lots are best valued by the Comparable Sales method.  I’ve walked you through two other methods that don’t cut it in our Lake Martin market:  Price Per Waterfront Foot and Price Per Square Foot/Acre.  The time has come address the most accurate valuation tool, the Comparable Sales Method aka the Sales Comparison Approach.

The Comparable Sales Method at Work on Lake Martin

“The Comparable Sales Method uses data from the sales of similar properties to estimate the market value of a piece of real estate.  This is a common method of assessing the value of real estate . . .  In most cases, several similar properties are used in the analysis.” (About.com)  So what I do when helping a potential seller determine a list price for their lake property is look at other similar sales.  A perfect comparable sale would be one that is geographically close,  with a similar view, privacy, water depth, and waterfront footage, etc.  Properties that have already sold are called “comparables,” and the lot you are trying to value is called the “subject.”

When the Sales Comparison Approach is used, choosing the most comparable sales is a critical part of the equation. To make things simple, let’s think about deed restricted developments on Lake Martin first.  The old real estate cliché of “location, location, location” does apply at Lake Martin.  Over the years, buyers have shown a preference to select lots that are inside deed restricted neighborhoods with covenants and homeowners associations.

One takeaway from this study is that the Comparable Sales method is labor intensive.  It requires a working knowledge of the area – otherwise how to know which sales are most comparable?  It also supposes an understanding of what buyers value in a Lake Martin lot.  Like most real estate pricing, it is not an exact science, but I think you can get pretty close.  There is no getting around it, no shortcuts, no magic formula. One simply has to buckle down and find the most comparable sales and then adjust to match the subject. For instance, if a comparable lot sells for $185,000, and I think that its view contributes 10% more value than the subject’s, then I would subtract 10% or $18,500 from the sales price to arrive at an estimation of the subject of $166,500. I try to get two of three more comparables, and average their adjusted sales prices, and presto, I have my estimation of value.

Obviously it gets a little more tricky to find comparable sales for properties that are not in formal neighborhoods at the lake, and there are some that are not.  But it can be done, and done well with the proper research.  The same goes for properties with homes.

The Sales Comparison Approach is also the preferred method by residential appraisers, so we shouldn’t be surprised that is the most accurate here at Lake Martin.

That is not to say that waterfront footage should be ignored – not at all. When using the sales comparison approach, if two lots are ceteris paribus except for waterfront footage, consideration should be given to the lot with more feet at lakeside. 

There is a place for adjustment for waterfront footage, but only as a secondary, fine tuning after first selecting good comparable sales. Much like a set of scales at the doctor’s office has two weights  –  a large one to get you close, and a small to get you exact:

Hopefully this study dispels the impulse of using waterfront footage as a starting point, or as the primary driver of estimated sales price.  The numbers just don’t work. I also hope that using a price per acreage or per square foot will not be used at all.

And now, having read all three parts of this math heavy series on lot pricing, I declare you to be a graduate of the Lake Martin Voice School of Graphs and Charts!  Congratulations!

Caveat:  If you call me to list your waterfront home or lot, and you tell me you have a “feeling” your Lake Martin lot should sell for X because Lake Martin lots generally sell for X per square foot, I’m going to make you go back to Part 1 and retake the course.

Links to Related Material:

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Pricing: An In-Depth Study Part 1
Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Pricing: An In-Depth Study Part 2

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Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Pricing: An In-Depth Study, Part 2

What do you know about Lake Martin waterfront lot pricing?  In the city, it can be feasible to value a lot using multiple pricing methods, but at Lake Martin, it’s a whole different ball game.  I’ve been telling buyers this for years based on anecdotal evidence, but now I have studied the Lake Martin MLS sales numbers and can back up my claim that the Comparable Sales method is the Lake Martin way to go.

Clichés are so… well ….. cliché. Part of the reason I started my real estate blog way back in 2007 was to examine, and publicize, what is really going on with Lake Martin real estate. I don’t claim to be the only voice for Lake Martin real estate, but I do hope to be a clear voice of the truth, looking past clichés, assumptions, agent puffery, and hocus pocus. Pretty is as pretty does around here. One of the biggest clichés or assumptions I constantly address with my buyers and sellers is how to accurately value a Lake Martin lot. Hence the need for this in-depth study.

In the first post I introduced three possible methods for valuing a lot:  Comparable Sales, Price Per Waterfront Foot, and Price Per Foot/Acre.  Hopefully I’ve already persuaded you that the Price Per Waterfront Foot method does not work as a primary method in the Lake Martin market.  If not, click here to read Part I.  Now I move to the Price Per Foot or Acre method . . .

Method 2:  Price Per Square Foot / Acre

Most consumers do not start their price valuation method with the size of a lot, but I do hear it as a way to justify one lot over another. Curious, I used the same tests of the scatter plot and correlation coefficient to test the relationship of the size of lots to eventual sales price. The result was pretty telling:

Once again, the scatter plot reveals how unrelated the two variables are. If they were dependent, we would expect to see results tightly formulated in a line pattern.  Instead, it is loose.

 Similarly, the correlation coefficient is telling. For square footage or acreage to sales price, it is -0.02. That’s right, it is almost zero. That tells us that the overall area of a lot is even less of a primary driver in sales price as is waterfront footage.  In fact, to return to another cliché, we can say that the size of a lot on Lake Martin has about as much to do with its sales price as the price of tea in China.

Price per acre or square foot is so unrelated, I can’t even recommend it as a secondary adjustment.

In the third (and final) post in this series, I’m going to walk you through the more accurate Comparable Sales method of valuing a waterfront lot.  It, too, will be heavy on the nerd factor, but somebody’s got to crunch the numbers in order to speak real estate truth.  Thanks for hanging in with me – I hope this is time well spent.

If you want to talk Lake Martin real estate – any topic, not just lot values – I’d love for you to give me a call 334 221 5862, or click here to contact me.

Links to Related Material:

Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Pricing: An In-Depth Study Part 1
Lake Martin Waterfront Lot Pricing: An In-Depth Study Part 3

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