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2020 Market Report

Published: 01.26.2021

Record Year in the Books

No one could have predicted this outcome. If you had asked us last March what the market would be like on Lake Martin this year—with a pandemic and a divisive election season—we would have been less than optimistic. By mid-May, we thought that the market was going to somehow stay on par with 2019, and by mid-July, we realized we were experiencing something really special.

We have pulled together our annual sales report for Lake Martin waterfront property, and literally every metric jumps off the page. Residential sales volume increased 64.2% over 2019. Residential unit sales increased 34.8% to 484 transactions. As available inventory for waterfront homes became scarce, waterfront lot sales volume shot up 199.3%, and the number of lots sold increased 146.6% to 143 transactions.

The total volume of all waterfront property (residential and lots) sold in 2020 increased 75% to $399,493,214 from a fairly impressive 2019 tally of $228,211,544. (2019 was the third-best year for lake property sales according to our sales records.) Clearly, the combination of safe social distancing at the lake, attractive interest rates, and a quieter rural environment drove an increased demand for Lake Martin.

Deeper dive

While the numbers noted above are very impressive, they are broad measures of the overall market. Individual property owners are more likely interested in what their lakefront property might be worth. The news for property owners derived from our study is very good as well.

The average price for all waterfront residential property increased 21.8% in 2020 over 2019. The sales price for single-family-detached lake homes rose 20.8% to $821,834. The sales-price-to-list-price ratio for single-family-detached homes was 97.2%, which is the highest ratio since we have tracked this metric.

Looking forward

All systems were on go for 2020. The metrics for 2021 will likely be mixed. Our prediction for 2021 is as follows:

First, we think that the total number of property sales and the total volume of sales will likely decrease in 2021. While the demand seems to be equal to last year, given the number of inquiries reported by our Realtors®, there is a problem rather with available supply.

As of the date of this writing, properties of all types listed for sale on Lake Martin are at an all-time low. Supply for single-family homes is a mere 1.55-month supply, and supply of available condos (just 2 currently for sale) is measured in weeks. Lot inventory is rarely less than 10-month supply; currently, there is just a 4.45-month supply versus an 18.83-month supply this same time last year.

Second, given the low supply and equal demand, we believe that price increases will either be sustained or that increases will continue. Potential headwinds for the market, such as the overall economy and political changes, could affect prices. Interest rates, expected to stay at current levels for the foreseeable future, could surprise to the upside.

Those influences, however, will tend to bring appreciation rates back to single-digit levels. Given the very low supply, if the economy rebounds after the pandemic and if interest rates stay at historic lows, prices should increase at a fairly robust pace, possibly in double digits.

Advice for sellers and buyers

We have noted that prices on Lake Martin are very attractive for those who are considering selling their property. There are plenty of comparable sales that provide price guidance for those interested in selling. While prices have increased, it is risky to price higher than what recent comparable sales would indicate for a fair selling price. Over-pricing could cause you to miss out on a hot market.

Our advice for buyers is to find one of our seasoned Realtors® to help you locate a home. In markets like this, newly listed properties do not always make it to the open market. Some firms have more extensive inventories, and those with developer and builder clientele will likely have new product hitting the market this year.

If you want to stay abreast of what is happening in the market, reach out to one of our Realtors® today. We will be happy to let you know what is new to the market.

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