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Real Estate Market Report


Published: 05.20.2020

The COVID-19 impact is a surprise—to the upside

April is in the books for real estate sales for Lake Martin waterfront properties. If we were making predictions about sales activity for April in late February, we would likely have picked a number well below last year’s activity.

If we were making a prediction in late March about April’s activity, we would have been a bit more optimistic since March of 2020 was essentially equal to March of 2019. But we would not have expected results anything like last April, especially when the “15 days to flatten the curve” turned into “safer at home” where only essential businesses could stay open.

Both predictions would have been wrong. Instead of being down, April of 2020 looked remarkably like April of 2019. Since we considered last April to be a pretty good month, the results can best be described as both fantastic and counterintuitive.

Apples-to-apples comparisons

The best way for us to measure the effect of COVID-19 is to compare year-over-year real estate sales. Rather than looking at closed sales, which may have been on the books before the pandemic, we focused on new contracts written during April of 2020, versus April of 2019. The question is, would social distancing and the halt to all non-essential activities slow or stop sales? The answer for April is that it did not have the expected impact.

For April of 2019, the local MLS reported 35 properties going under contract (new sales). The total list price for those properties was $22,777,300, with an average list price of $650,780. In April of 2020, the local MLS reported 35 properties going under contract with a total list price of $22,624,285, and an average list price of $646,408. View a detailed sales list >

Over the first two months of the COVID-19 era (March and April), the total new sales are 60 for 2019 and 59 for 2020. Total list price volume for 2019 was $36,316,350, and for 2020 the list price volume $38,276,809. We will not know what the total sales volume looks like on a year-over-year comparison for several months, since sales prices are confidential until closed. We believe, based on our involvement in contract negotiations, that sellers are getting near-list prices on new contracts. That is an important indicator of a healthy market.

Social distancing is better at Lake Martin

Above, we noted that the sales results seem to be counterintuitive. That is until you think about the Lake Martin lifestyle. Being at the lake is an ideal solution for social distancing with your family. For starters, with its rural location, Lake Martin has a smaller population with which to interact.

Also, a lake home usually has more land than a city house. Lake homes are designed to spend time outdoors with expansive outdoor living spaces. Additionally, the pier gives the entire family a great place to while away the hours lakeside at a safe distance from your neighbor. Of course, a gorgeous clear water lake is the perfect place for a refreshing swim.

And possibly best of all, boating with your family is the ideal recreation for social distancing. Safe boating requires that you be are more than six feet away from other boats. You can spend hours and hours on the lake and discover hundreds of coves to explore.

What to look for

Earlier this month, Governor Ivey issued an order allowing businesses to start the transition to normal. The governor’s order means that indoor dining is allowed again, and with so many popular places on Lake Martin, we think that people will be excited to eat out at the lake again. Just in time too. Warmer temperatures are coming, and lake season is about to begin.

When lake season begins this weekend, more property sales could occur. There is, however, a constraint on sales. That is finding available property that can be purchased. Recent additions to the waterfront inventory listed in The Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors MLS is well behind last year. At the end of April 2019, the total number of waterfront properties for sale stood at 394 units. This April that number was 41% lower at 232 properties.

Lower inventory with equal demand is sure to result in more multiple-offer situations, potentially higher prices, and fewer overall property sales. New listings, properly priced, are currently receiving multiple offers in very little marketing time.

For those interested selling, we recommend you look at current comps when pricing your property. For those shopping for property, we recommend that you have a Realtor® engaged to keep you informed of newly listed property. A delay in discovery could result in a missed opportunity.

To stay abreast of property sales and availability at Lake Martin, drop us an email request or give one of our Realtors® a call (Click here to select from our list of Realtors®). We are always adding new property listings. Be the first to know by putting us to work for you.

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