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?
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.
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.