Lake Martin Voice Realty
Here is helpful information from one Lake Martin couple who purchased a fixer upper.
When I met with the homeowners back in December, I had no idea (and neither did they) that they would decide to sell their Lake home. I wanted to write an article for Lake Magazine about remodeling at the Lake and stopped by the cabin to take some “after” photos and ask a few questions.
Remodeling is popular these days. If you are unaware of this trend, just flip on the TV. Waco, Texas, has the adorable Chip and his wife Joanna. Los Angeles has Christina and whatever male she decides to include on her show.
So in going along with the trend of “old to new,” I thought I would write about lake home remodeling. When homebuyers come to Lake Martin, they often wrestle with this issue.
“Do I want to buy a brand new home? Or am I up for a remodel of an older home? How large of a remodel project would I like?” they might ask themselves.
I thought it might be helpful to talk to a couple that has actually been through the process and hear what they have to say. Granted, their experience is personal and limited to one home. But, they did put considerable thought into their remodel, and it might be entertaining and enlightening for all.
Here is their story:
Don and Kristie are from Birmingham, Alabama. They bought their home in 2011. It is located on the north side of Lake Martin and was originally built as a fish camp style home with concrete block construction. It was extremely functional but short on refinement.
The home’s original construction date was listed at 1960, but subsequent owners had made improvements along the way. While Don and Kristie loved the home as it was, they naturally sought to personalize it. Here’s a Q&A of their Lake Martin remodel story:
When you first started your home search, did you want to buy a home that was move-in ready, or were you looking for a fixer upper or a project?
Our first priority was to buy a home with great water frontage with pretty view and a level lot for kids to play. At our price range, that dictated a fixer upper.
When you bought it, did you envision fixing it up this much?
Yes, but not with any definitive timeline. It was just as we could afford with money and time. There was no rush because we did not live there full time, so it was nice to do a little and walk away for a bit. Being patient helped us to get to know the house and what we really wanted out of it.
What was your first project, and was that the same project you planned when you bought?
The house was quaint and charming, but we wanted to personalize it to our tastes. We pulled out all carpet and baseboards and slowly started to replace with a floating floor and new baseboards. During that process, we took what furnishings came with the house to refurbish pieces with paint and distressing. That helped to clear some stuff and allow for flooring. It also helped us to visualize how to put each space back together from a decorating standpoint.
Which part gave you the most instant gratification?
Paint. Paint will transform a space. If the ceilings in a lake house are not that special, consider painting them the same color as walls. It really opens up a room and makes it feel larger. That is something many people will look sideways at you for suggesting until it’s actually done.
Which part was the least fun to spend money on?
Electricians and plumbers.
Did you experience “project creep,” e.g., “as long as we are fixing X we might as well fix Y?”
A tad but not tremendously. To offset the creep, we would look for ways to do things inexpensively but still with good impact, things that we might not otherwise do if it was our primary home. For example, in the kitchen, we had white Formica countertops that were fine for a lake house. But we added the pass-through and purchased a remnant of honed granite for the bar top. Instead of spending thousands on the kitchen countertop, we found Formica that was basically identical to the granite. It only cost a few hundred dollars, and it looks fine for the small space.
How did you budget for this? Did you decide on a total amount to spend and wait until you had it and then start, or did you know that you wanted to do this or that project and just did it?
The rule was, if we couldn’t pay for it out of pocket, we were not doing it. That governed our time and pace. With it being a second home, we were not so antsy to ‘get it done’ immediately.
Anything you would change?
I wish I had peeked at the ceilings in the oldest part of the house during renovation. I always wondered why the ceilings were lower in the old original camp house. Far down the road after interior was done, we were working on the sun porch that required us to reveal part of the ceiling, and it was discovered there was old tongue and groove on the ceiling. It was one of those moments of “who the heck covers this up!”
What was the hardest part of remodeling from afar?
Just having to be patient knowing we had limited time to work on it and making ourselves stop to enjoy the view every now and then.
Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine. I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine.
Zillow doesn’t work here at Lake Martin for selling waterfront real estate. It is terribly inaccurate.
I get reminded of this every now and then when I hold my nose and wade into their site. Today I was looking at a Zillow advertisement for a waterfront property on the Dadeville side of Lake Martin. The Zestimate was crazy wrong. But….. that goes without saying. Aren’t we all used to that by now?
What caught my eye is some of the wacky supplemental info that Zillow tried to give for the home. Dadeville’s zip is 36853, and Zillow thinks that the nearby zip codes of 36023 (East Tallassee) and 36256 (Daviston) are comparable to this property. Huh? Seriously? Here’s the reality- homes that are a half mile away from this one, but also in Dadeville, are NOT comparable, either. That’s because an off water home in Dadeville is not comparable to one that is waterfront on Lake Martin. The lot drives the value on Lake Martin.
Common sense, right? Well, it seems the computer nerds at Zillow haven’t figured out how to program for that.
Also- check out the “nearby” neighborhoods. Hello? Only one of the five of those has any waterfront on Lake Martin. I have never heard of the other four.
Lake Martin Zillow FAQ:
Why is Zillow so wrong here at Lake Martin? Many reasons. Among them is that the counties around Lake Martin do not report sales data to Zillow. Neither does our MLS. The result is that Zillow’s database is bloated with homes and lots, many of which are out of date, inaccurate, have sub-standard media, and are poorly described. This leads to buyer frustration (“What? This home’s listing was cancelled two years ago?”) and seller anger (“What? It says my house has 0 bathrooms!”).
Then why is Zillow so popular nationally? Zillow is not in the real estate business. They are in the “sell ads to real estate agents” business. To be frank, they are good at scaring the poop out of real estate agents like me when they cold call us. The pitch is, “we are so awesome! Don’t you want to be The Featured Agent in your area?” I respond, “My area? You mean Sessions? Or Buttston? or Tohopeka? No thanks. I will keep my money and you keep that title.” Agents that do give money to Zillow soon find out that Zillow takes their money and uses it to advertise to – you guessed it – other agents, pressuring them to outbid the original agent for the (occasionally) coveted Featured Agent for the area.
Will I ever advertise on Zillow? Who knows. I never say never. Maybe one day Zillow will get its act together for Lake Martin real estate. Maybe their SEO will start to beat mine. Maybe they will actually become a useful tool for home sellers and buyers here. When that happens, I will hop right on board. Occasionally I hear of a FSBO that uses the site with some success. Sometimes I will even recommend that FSBOs try Zillow out if they are so inclined, but right now it just doesn’t make sense for me. I am a full time, professional real estate agent with other, much more powerful marketing tools with which to help buyers and sellers here at Lake Martin.
Would you love to live on Lake Martin and near a golf course?
This contemporary Lake Martin home is great for a large family or lots of friends – four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living rooms, two fireplaces, a screened porch, year round water, gentle slope lot, boat lift, boat ramp, covered dock with a cool slide, covered gazebo – the list goes on and on.
Watch the video below for a quick tour of 452 Locklear Drive.
Are you familiar with Lakewinds Golf Course? Lakewinds is a public, old style golf course owned by Alexander City. It is located five miles east of downtown Alex City – click here for the google map link.
Watch the video below for a quick aerial tour of Lakewinds Golf Course.
Golfers are welcomed 7 days a week – call 256-825-9860 for a tee time.
Welcome to Lake Martin, Bobby and Darla!
I was so honored that Bobby and Darla allowed me to help them find their dream home on Lake Martin. I would like to welcome them to the Lake!!!
They even sent me this picture they took on their first weekend at Lake Martin, and told me, “Having devotion and coffee. First morning. Couldn’t get much better than this. Thanks John!”
Earlier this summer I stopped by to see a Lake Martin cabin that I had sold a few years ago in the Parker Creek area.
This waterfront home built in 1983 is on a woodsy, private lot. It had a good floor plan and great potential but was in need of some updating.
The new owners were excited to rejuvenate the home. You should have seen their list of projects – “remove paneling, paint entire interior, remove popcorn ceiling, new stone countertops, replace all interior doors, install tile on bathroom floors …” and that was just the list for the interior.
The before and after photos below will tell the story of the exterior improvements. They painted the home a good looking gray color and built a new entrance on the street side. The screened in porch (don’t we all love those) got a makeover and the boat house and dock were repaired.
Stay tuned for more photos of this cabin – you won’t believe the transformation of the inside.
By the way, if you are looking for a contractor or subcontractor to help you with a remodel, renovation, or new construction around Lake Martin, CONTACT ME HERE and I would be glad to make some recommendations.
Here at Lake Martin we don’t have a huge mosquito problem. However, they are out there, and a few factors in the last several years made me want to write this blog post.
First of all, mosquitos have been in the news here lately as carriers of some viruses and sicknesses. Secondly, there have been some pretty cool advances in treatment methods that weren’t around a few years ago. The cost of professional treatment has come down so low that it’s difficult to justify doing it yourself. Lastly, I’ve had buyers ask me about it. That factor alone is enough for me to let me know I should write about this!
And yes, I know I’m writing about this in November. But here at Lake Martin we are still easily in the 80s. I even had some friends of mine that were bitten while out Trick or Treating last week.
I’d like to introduce the Mosquito Authority. It’s a great local company that is owned by some friends of mine. They can help control mosquitos around your Lake Martin home. Be sure to watch the video above to learn more about their services and see them in action.
They are based out of Montgomery but have been expanding to Lake Martin lately. I caught up with them the other day when they were treating a home in the Blue Creek area.
Here are a few more Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Is the mosquito treatment safe at Lake Martin?
A. Yes, because of our targeted application, it goes and stays where we put it. By the time the product begins to wear off, runoff is minimal.
Q. Is the spray safe for kids and pets?
A. After the spray has a chance to dry in about 15 minutes, it is perfectly fine to let your children and pets run around. We don’t spray the grass, but we focus on where the mosquitos hang out. They frequent your trees and shrubs.
Q. How often do you spray a home?
A. We recommend spraying every three weeks. The first spray will make a huge difference. The second one helps to break the life-cycle. After that, it is more of a maintenance thing.
Q. How long does each spray last?
A. Our product is very durable. It can last up to three weeks, even if it rains. We only spray during dry conditions and after it dries, even rain doesn’t have much effect.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. It depends on the size of the yard, but you have options. You can choose to pay per spray, you can pay for the season package with 2 payments or to save the most money, you can pay for the whole 10-spray season in one payment. There is no commitment or contract. You can stop service whenever you want. For 2016 the full season price was $525, the 2 payment plan was $285 and the monthly rate was $62.
The Mosquito Authority can be reached at 334-648-0936 or find them on Facebook at The Mosquito Authority of Alabama.
Renew Our Rivers – Lake Martin / Tallapoosa River clean up days are Friday, November 4th and Saturday, November 5th.
Come one – come all! Help keep Lake Martin beautiful! Every year the Renew our Rivers event gives you the opportunity to make a difference. Volunteers assist in roadside and lake shoreline cleanup.
Volunteers should report at 8 a.m. each day to the Wind Creek Park Marina, Kowaliga Boat Ramp or the Blue Creek Marina.
According to John Thompson (one of the organizers of the event) over 290 volunteers were involved last year to fill more than 400 bags which weighed over 6 1/2 tons! How about those numbers? (Click here to read more about Renew our Rivers 2015)
Renew our Rivers 2016 for our area is coordinated by Alabama Power, the Lake Martin Resource Association, Russell Lands, Advanced Disposal, Wind Creek State Park and TowBoatUS Lake Martin.
Check out this cool, outdoor living area in my newest listing – a waterfront home for sale at 570 Wake Robin, Eclectic – Lake Martin!
Built right on the beach area of this home in Trillium, the rustic outdoor area is like having another living room to enjoy year round. The beautiful stone fireplace makes a great gathering spot for family and friends.
Entertain and relax here – watch the game on TV, enjoy a cold beverage from the built in cooler or just boat watch and enjoy the sunsets – your choice, your retreat. Enjoy.
For more info on 570 Wake Robin CLICK HERE.
Do you have a waterfront property you are considering selling on Lake Martin?
Please let me talk to you about how I can help you. We put the best of today’s useful technology to work for you – reaching buyers in a multitude of ways: the web, social media, email, and good ol’ word of mouth.
Contact me HERE or call me directly at the number at the top of this page.
Bob and Susie Q. Buyer have found a way to buy a Lake Martin waterfront home that will pay for itself!
It’s easy money, they think.
They have done their due diligence (i.e. watch HGTV) and are ready to make their move. They have found the perfect little Lake Martin waterfront cabin. It’s on a beautiful lot with 500 feet of waterfront. When they noticed that house is crammed over to one side of the lot, it gave Bob and Susie Q. their idea. They buy the home, cut the lot in half, sell the lot, and pay for their entire purchase.
They can’t miss, right?
I can think of two reasons they will.
Firstly, they might need to consider that HGTV is carried on the cable networks of Charter, Com-Link Inc. and Dish here at little ‘ole Lake Martin. In other words, we know how to flip (and flop) here, too. If a deal is that much of a layup, it will likely be scooped up by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand way before it comes on their radar up there in the big city.
Secondly, the biggest reason is that the lot is restricted. Well, I should say that there is a 98% chance it is restricted and therefore they cannot split the lot. The seller is selling the lot subject to the same deed restrictions which they bought, and at Lake Martin, that means you can’t split it, among other things.
Yes, there are some needles in the haystack here and there. But, the last time I looked for a buyer, I reviewed the 100 or so waterfront lots for sale on the lake and only found two or three that were truly unrestricted.
If you are unfamiliar with deed restrictions, think about the neighborhood where you live just outside of Gotham. Most neighborhoods have their own set of rules about what kind of home you can build. They might also have rules that state the minimum size a home can be, how close it can be placed to the lot lines, the materials used, or any number of things.
Still other neighborhoods have “Architectural Review Boards” which is a committee of residents tasked with making sure all new construction fits the Homeowner Association’s guidelines. These are all “deed restrictions” because they are part of the deed when you bought your house.
I hear from buyers all the time that let me know that they want a waterfront lot that is, in their words, “unrestricted.” When they mention that, I always ask them if they plan to split the lot or build two homes on a lot. Usually, they say no. Most of the time buyers think unrestricted refers to controls like architectural review committees.
They don’t want anyone telling them what color paint to use on their deck.
This also comes up when people want to be able to park their RV on the lot for a few years before they build their home. Or, they even might want to park the RV during the precious few months of home construction. Most formal neighborhoods and county road plats at Lake Martin have restrictions against this.
Other buyers might like to put a manufactured home on the lot, and keep it like that as long as possible. Again, it’s equally difficult to find a lot that would allow this.
Does that mean all restrictions are bad? If your neighbor split his lot into 30 parts and plans to sell them all to the highest bidders, would you be excited about it?
The point here is that each lot buyer must not go around making assumptions. Don’t assume that all restrictions are “bad,” or that any restrictions are “good.” One must behold any deed restrictions with one’s own eye and decide beauty.
How does one do that?
You verify before you buy.
After that, it’s too late. Therefore, a buyer with concerns about when can be done on the lot should include a contingency in the real estate contract to say something like “this offer is subject to buyer’s favorable review of all deed restrictions” or something like that. The buyer should consult an attorney to make absolutely sure.
I am not a lawyer, but experience here at Lake Martin has pretty much taught me to never assume. But, if I had to guess, I would say that Bob and Susie Q. Buyer won’t be able to split that lot.
I will take a 98% chance any day of the week!
The number one event at Lake Martin on Memorial Day 2016 is napping. Yes, napping. If you can catch some ZZZZs like this “leetle guy,” then go for it. Time well spent. For you active types, I have plucked 3 interesting events around the Lake that will serve you well.
- On the way to Smith Marina to enjoy some birthday cake yogurt and celebrate Smitty’s 60th birthday (gotta love a guy who throws himself a birthday party like Bilbo Baggins) stop by my new listing at 510 Woodvine Road located in the Parker Creek area. Doesn’t this look like a great location in a quiet area of the Lake? Lots of room for parking and plenty of privacy.
- Then ’round the corner be sure to spend some time at Art on the Lake at Children’s Harbor. This annual art exhibit is always fun with over 50 artists and all kinds of art.
- Back out on the Lake, watch for the Dixie Sailing Club McFadden Cup Club Race sailboats. What a sight! Next stop – another new listing of mine 40 Cottage Loop at The Village. Can you imagine spending the weekend here? No worries with yard work – just enjoy your day relaxing on your porch or taking a dip in the Village pool or lounge at the Village beach. Or hop in the boat for a short ride to Chimney Rock!
Memorial Day weekend at Lake Martin is all about family fun and kicking off the unofficial start of Summer! Please take time to remember those who died while serving in the U.S. military but also enjoy plenty of lighthearted time with your family and friends at the Lake!
Interested in keeping up with other events around Lake Martin? Or are you interested in places to eat, homes and lots for sale, where to shop, marinas around the Lake, places to have fun and more? Check out the free Lake Martin Voice app!
Have a great Memorial Day weekend at the Lake! And enjoy that nap!