Please take a look at my above video. I am John Coley. I am a real estate agent with Lake Martin Voice Realty and this is my 2019 waterfront market report for Lake Martin, Alabama.
I know I’m showing this a little late but I have had so many questions about 2019 that I thought it was worth going more in depth. Normally, I start out with waterfront home sales but I want to begin with waterfront lot sales because that, in my opinion, is the surprising story in 2019 at Lake Martin.
This year had the lowest amount of waterfront lot sales we’ve had in eight years. You’ve heard that right. We’re in a booming seller’s market for waterfront home sales. But waterfront lot sales at Lake Martin have been the lowest since eight years ago.
I had to go back and look and see to make sure I was right on this but I’m gonna go ahead and start with the end news first and that is we sold 58 waterfront lots all over Lake Martin. I am getting this data from the Lake Martin MLS – all agents, all brokerages. With about 260 agents and 880 miles of shoreline we only sold 58 waterfront lots.
What is that in comparison? Last year we sold 69 lots. In 2017 we sold 60 lots. So I had to keep going backwards and backwards and backwards to find this out but in 2016 we sold 76 – the high was in 2015 of 82 lots. So you can see we’re trending down. I had to keep on going backwards to 74 lots sold in 2014 and 71 lots in 2013. I had to go back to 2012 to find a year where we beat that year and in 2012, 38 waterfront lots were sold all over Lake Martin by all agents and all brokerages.
Now, these numbers do not include private developers that sell their own lots but this is a great barometer of the waterfront lot and home market because we’re looking at the Lake Martin MLS. But again, I was surprised. I do this for a living and I was surprised only 58 waterfront lots sold on Lake Martin.
Pretty much the worst lot sales since 2012.
I always say you can’t look at sales without looking at inventory. It’s peanut butter and jelly. They go together. Since we have covered sales, let’s look at waterfront lots for sale, also known as inventory.
We did not have a whole lot of really big crazy trends in the number of waterfront lots for sale on Lake Martin in 2019. Inventory is a snapshot stat so I had to pull these from what the inventory was in December in each of these years. We had about 106 waterfront lots for sale at the end of the year 2019. There were 126 in inventory in 2018. That is down about 20%. What did we have in 2017? We had 90 and in 2016 – 92 and in 2015 – 127 and 2014 – 160. The reason I use 2014 is because I compare sales and I wanted to show you a similar time period.
Since the inventory trends lower here you might be tempted to say, “well yeah we had 58 lots sales and yes that is an eight year low but we probably had an eight year low in inventory too.” Not true. There were two years here that were lower. We’re really kind of at our five year average in 2019. Not lower, but average.
I began to look a little deeper at waterfront lot sales on Lake Martin. I thought I would look at the numbers to figure out price ranges where they sell. So $0-$100k 11 lots sold, $100k-$200k 8 lots sold, $200k-$300k 14 lots sold (our biggest segment), $300k-$400k 9 lots sold, $400k-$500k 6 lots sold and over $500k 10 lots sold.
The highest waterfront lot sold in 2019 was a little bit over a million. The $200k-$300k is our biggest segment. If you add these three together you’re only looking at 25 lot sales so from $200 and above 25 lot sales are less that half. 19 are below $200,000 so the $200,000 mark seems to be really the line of demarcation for waterfront lot sales. If you’re listening to this and you have a lot that’s above $200,000; less than half of them were sold and again only 58 sold. Again, I’m pulling these numbers from the Lake Martin MLS, so that means I am quoting you all sales results from agents, 260 agents probably – and all brokerages.
Looking a little deeper, I wondered what neighborhoods saw the most waterfront sales on Lake Martin in 2019? The Ridge was by far the highest number – 13 waterfront lots were sold inside The Ridge in 2019. To put it in perspective The Ridge still has a lot of waterfront lots out there that aren’t built on but they probably have 400 lots in The Ridge. The Willows of Willow Point sold 9 lots. Trillium – here’s another really mature neighborhood, with about 400 lots. Most lots have homes on them in Trillium so it makes sense to me that only 1 lot was sold in Trillium this year.
Kennebec, a new neighborhood in 2019, sold 5 lots. StillWaters is a very mature neighborhood with not many lots around but they sold 1. The Harbor is by The Village and they sold 1. Marina Marin – another mature neighborhood, sold 1. After these major neighborhoods it gets tough to break down. About 25 of some of these remaining lots are actually in a neighborhood. Just as an overview, of the 58 lots sold about a little bit less than 1/2 of them are in no formal neighborhood or kind of a neighborhood that doesn’t have deed restrictions.
I would like to move on to waterfront home sales on Lake Martin in 2019. Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the homes sales I thought I’d just give a few numbers at a glance and hopefully these are helpful. $583,000 – that’s the average sales price of waterfront homes on the Lake in 2019. The highest one was over three million dollars.
A lot of times people ask me “what about condo sales.” This year in 2019, 24% of our home sales were in condo sales and here I’m lumping together all the other multifamily stuff like condos, villas, and townhomes.
Did you know that 27% of the waterfront sales were cash? For Lake Martin, about a quarter to about a third are cash sales – meaning – the buyer did not buy it with a loan. This is pretty typical for us and it’s typical I think of a second home market which is what we are.
This was a record year for waterfront home sales on Lake Martin. We had 369 home sales in 2019 at Lake Martin. In 2018 we had 297. The previous record was 363 in 2017. In 2019 we beat it – we beat our previous records by about 1 1/2 % – so pretty close. But hey, a win is a win.
This year’s sales were about 24% up from 2018 and as you can see in 2016 it’s about 24% up from that so a great year for home sales. It is really pretty interesting when you look at it – because a great year for home sales does not relate into a great year for lot sales.
Similar to lot sales, with home sales I always want to look at inventory when you look at sales. What did our inventory do in 2019? This is a snapshot in December of 2019 and we had 185 waterfront homes for sale. That was just a tad off in 2018 – 180 and that’s a downward trend for 2017 and 2016 goes from 246 to 220 and then we kind of settled at about 185.
Lake Martin had 25 home sales in the month of December which for our market is a lot of sales. “Wow 25 – is nothing,” but for us that’s a lot in December and represents about seven months of inventory.
These numbers back up what I felt in my gut in December and then now in January and February – that it’s still very much a seller’s market in the realm of waterfront home sales. You’re having houses that come on the market and sell in a week if they’re priced right. You have multiple offers happening with them.
In 2018 I was thinking, “Maybe we’re cooling off? We’re still a hot market but maybe it’s balancing back out.”
You know, I was wrong. Shows you what I know. Lake Martin went back up to 369 sales in 2019. So again, very much still a seller’s market when it comes to homes. A lot of buyers that I’m working with have had to act fast to get a house under contract.
In summary, at the end of 2019, Lake Martin was still a seller’s market in waterfront homes but not in waterfront lots. What does that mean going forward? I still think this means you’ve got an opportunity with lots because you do have a lot of inventory out there but not many sales. Does that mean the people are just going to start fire selling lots? I don’t think so but I do know that there’s not the intense upward pressure on prices for lots as there is for homes. There just isn’t because you’ve got a lot more competition and you don’t have the sales.
If you would like to reach out and talk to me, I’m John Coley with Lake Martin Voice Realty. I do this for a living – I’m a full time realtor here. This is all I do. I don’t have any other side jobs and am not smart enough to keep up with any other real estate market. I’m 100% and 12 miles deep at Lake Martin, Alabama.
I’d love to help you find or sell your Lake Martin property! Just give me a call!