I love technology. Maybe not as much as Kip Dynamite, but I do love it; however, it does have its limitations.
A couple of weeks ago I was helping a potential homebuyer search for a Lake Martin waterfront home. The buyer is really into fishing, and he would like to be able to keep his fishing boat at the dock for as long as possible throughout the year.
Here at Lake Martin, the water fluctuates a total of 7 feet. During the colder months, Alabama Power draws the lake down, starting in the fall, and brings it back up in the spring. Buyers that would like access to their boats no matter the season look for homes with greater than 7 feet at the dock. We agents tend to call this “year ‘round water” depth.
While discussing different homes with the buyer, I threw out some suggestions that I thought might be just the fit for him. One in particular was in his target area and price range but he immediately nixed it.
“Nope,” he said, “the water is not deep enough at the dock.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “Because I know that area in general and I am pretty sure it has decent water depth.”
“I checked my electronic lake chart that’s on my fishing boat and the app that comes with it. The app has the water depth for every square inch of the lake and it says the water is only 1 foot deep at the dock and only 2 feet out in front of it. There’s no way I can get my boat to it most of the time,” he answered.
This sounded crazy to me. I just could not believe the water was that shallow. I had never visited this particular home, but regardless, I knew homes in the area and usually you remember when an entire slough has super shallow water. Because I never visited it, I hated to contradict the electronic chart.
You may be familiar with these types of maps. There are a couple of different companies that sell lake maps, and you buy a “chip” to put in your depth finder on your boat. Or, you can download the app and have it all on your phone.
After a little encouragement, he decided to see the home anyway. After all, as I said, it fulfilled two of his other criteria: location and price.
We both had a big surprise on the day we saw the home. The first thing we did was go directly to the dock. As we walked down the stairs, I could tell there was way more than 1 to 2 feet of depth at the dock. But how much? He had brought his ruler so we could be as exact as possible.
You guessed it – the chart was wrong. The depth at the end of the dock was actually about 8 feet. That’s a whopping 6 feet of difference between the app and actual.
Now, 6 feet of difference might not be that substantial when you are trying to hook up with a largemouth or striped bass. But when you are buying or selling real estate on Lake Martin, 6 feet monumental. Especially when that 6 feet takes you from a depth that would be considered very shallow (2 feet) to year round water (8 feet).
I have never been able to create an algorithm that shows how much each foot of water depth helps a lot’s value. Maybe such a magic formula exists. But I can tell you that no buyer comes to the lake and says, “I want no water.” Not everyone has to have super deep water, but everyone would choose 8 feet of depth over 2, given the same price.
So, as much as we techies love our data and our apps, I urge you to take a lesson from the above. Do not rely on fancy pixels and playthings when calculating such an important thing as water depth. It still pays to be old school in this area.
Bring a ruler and be ready to submerge it. Or make yourself a measuring stick and bring it with you when you are house shopping. Just don’t try and sell me one.
I made an infinity of them at scout camp.