The 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 true. 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.