These questions were submitted to me from a Lake Martin Voice reader needing more info on Alabama Power leased lots on Lake Martin. If you have more questions on this or another subject, please email me or call me (info at top of page) and let me know. Who knows, maybe your questions will inspire a post like this.
1. Are Lake Martin lot leases standardized? If so, where can I get a copy of the lease to preview?
Yes in that most all leases on Lake Martin are with Alabama Power. A lease they did 15 years ago might differ very slightly from one they did 2 years ago, but for the most part are the same. Copies – I doubt they would send you an example but as a practical matter I can send you copies – 4 of my listings (see each linked here) are leased lots right now. I can email them to you.
2. Are the expiration terms on all properties the same or do they vary from lot to lot?
The lease expiration and all other terms vary from lot to lot. Most of them are for 25 years or 30 years total.
3. How does the property tax work on waterfront lot leases?
Alabama Power pays the property tax on the lot, and you pay on the improvements (house, dock, sea wall, etc). On Lake Martin, most of the value in any property is in the waterfront lot, so often the tax on the lot is greater than that on the improvements.
4. Are there any local lenders willing to do loans on leased lot homes?
Yes, plenty. National mortgage companies that have no clue about Lake Martin sometimes bring out the red tape over leases. That’s OK, because most of the time a local bank can meet or beat their rates and closing costs, anyway.
5. How has APCO historically acted upon termination of any existing leases on Lake Martin?
Have a lawyer examine each lease, but, in general at lease end they can:
A.) Renew the lease for another 25 or 30 years.
B.) Sell you the lot
C.) Buy the improvements from you at market value, determined by an appraiser.
D.) Let you haul the home etc out of there.
Since my grandad started our company in 1953 we’ve never heard of them doing C or D. Not to say they never will, but I think it’s highly improbable.
Will they sell to you? I think odds are they will renew most of the time. It seems like once every decade or so they decide to phase out of the Real Estate biz and sell upon renewal. They did it for a stretch in each of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. When they did it was (according to lot owners I’ve interviewed) at prices that folks were happy to pay. Who knows what will happen. I wouldn’t bank on it, but I wouldn’t let it bother me, either. I think most people look at it like this: if they feel the lot is worth at least $200,000 – it would take a bank payment of $1,200 a month (6% on 30 years) to finance the lot. The leases on my listings are all about $350 a month currently. So if you bank that $850 a month – at lease end you’ll have a huge chunk of cash if they sell it to you. Or a big cash nest egg for retirement. Whatever.
Extra Points to those who read these three Bonus Q&As:
1. What is the highest valued leasehold property on Lake Martin that you’re aware of?
Value – depends on your definition of value here. If asking price = value, right now there are about 16 leased lot homes for sale, lowest asking price is $319,900 (info here) and highest is like $559,000. If selling price = value, according to the MLS the highest leased lot home sold was for $489,000. But I know of several leased lot homes that, if sold, would bring a lot more than that. But to answer the unasked question about appreciation of value – at the end of 2006 I did a study of the MLS for property types that sold multiple times within a 6 year period: lots, condos, deeded homes, leased lot homes. I found multiple examples where the exact same lot sold, e.g., three times that period, or the exact same leased lot home sold. I calculated a total gain and divided by number of years between first and last sale. All property types AVERAGED about 30% gain PER YEAR. Granted, that was at the end of a huge bull market run. Over 50 years, most appraisers use the 12% to 15% gain per year factor. But most importantly, it demonstrated to me that Lake Martin real estate appreciated rather uniformly across all property types (lots, condos, deeded lot homes, leased lot homes). Sure, there are times when some types do better than others, but in any time frame greater than 4 or 5 years it is my opinion that all will appreciate pretty much uniformly. It’s not a science. We have small sample groups, but I’ve seen enough anecdotal evidence to convince me to have that opinion.
2. How and who do you contact at APCo in order to negotiate lease extensions / renewals / purchase request / etc.?
Alabama Power has a land management office over in Dadeville which houses all of their people that do this, from the real estate leasing folks to the shoreline management (permits to build docks) folks. Owners of leases talk to them about extensions. Typically they only talk to the owners, and won’t discuss hypothetical situations. For example, if you called them up and said “I am thinking about buying a leased lot home, would you extend the lease” they would probably not talk to you as you are not the owner. If you get down to an exact home you want to buy, and want more years on the lease, I (as your realtor, of course) would advise you to ask the sellers to make a request for a renewal letter. Also I would advise that you make the contract contingent upon your favorable review of the lease. All of them are pretty much the same, so you probably wouldn’t find anything that surprises you, but at least you have looked. Request to purchase – they haven’t offered any new lots to lease in a few years. If they do that again, you can get on a list to be notified of the chance to bid for the right to lease them.
3. Will APCo verify expiration date of specific lots on Lake Martin?
I suppose that, if you had one under contract, your realtor (me 🙂 ) could call AL Power with the lease info and get them to independently verify that the seller has given you the current lease to review. That office of Alabama Power is always swamped with heavy workloads, so I would be surprised if you as a potential buyer called them up if you could get them to respond in a timely way, if at all. But who knows, maybe they might. But again, if it were me, I would not do any verifying or extension / renewal talk until I had a property under contract. It is just too much of a pain to do, you don’t want to ask Alabama Power for 4 or 5 favors and only use 1.
Do you have any other questions about Alabama Power lot leases on Lake Martin? Leave a reply and comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer it. Who knows, maybe someone else has the same question.
Leased Lot Homes For Sale: