If your Christmas wish is for a healthy real estate market on Lake Martin, you must have been on the nice side of the naughty or nice scale because the market is very healthy indeed. In fact, this year’s numbers might be as memorable as that Red Ryder BB gun or Cabbage Patch Doll you got when you were a kid.
We gather lots of numbers each month to track the market and to help us make decisions regarding future development activity. This article contains what I consider the headline stats. The most recent numbers, since this article was written in mid-November, are for the 12-month period ending October 2019, in comparison to the same 12-month period ending in 2018.*
I like looking at this particular period because, by the end of October, most of the contracts written during the spring and summer seasons have closed. I also like to look at the year-over-year comparison because the monthly view tends to be too volatile to see trends and make good decisions.
Sales volume increases by double digits
The headline number in any report is the gross dollar volume for residential sales. This category includes all single-family homes, townhomes and condos sold through the local MLS. The sales volume increased 14.3 percent to $207,860,983 for the period ending in October. A deeper dive into the numbers revealed an increase of 12.2 percent in single-family property volume and a 28.7 percent increase in condos and townhomes volume.
This increase came after a sluggish start to the year that can be largely attributed to increased interest rates. The unit sales in the January-through-March quarter were down significantly. The sales pace picked up substantially beginning in April in tandem with rate decreases through the summer and into fall.
Lower interest rates caused total residential unit sales to increase 14.3 percent to 351 total units. I think that is a meaningful number because that means 351 people or families decided to invest $207,860,983 in Lake Martin.
Welcome to the neighborhood!
Median prices increase significantly
Everyone wants to see the market improve. The best way to measure that is to look at median prices year over year. The median price for waterfront residential property increased 7.8 percent to $510,005. Single-family increased 8.6 percent to $613,325 with condos and townhomes increasing 8.7 percent to $295,000.
The increase in median prices is an indicator that both desirability and affordability were aligned, so people could purchase better lake homes than in the same period last year. In short, good rates, good economy means a better lake place.
Inventory remains limited
If there is concern with recent data, it is that available inventory is below last year’s level. It is like shopping for toys the day before Christmas – the shelves look empty. Last year, residential inventory had an 8.44-month supply, somewhat low historically for Lake Martin.
This year, the supply stands even lower at just 6.29 months. That means if nothing new comes on the market or is built/developed, we will be out of properties to sell by mid-May of 2020.
Looking forward into 2020
For those that are concerned that there are not enough available lake homes, don’t worry. Russell Lands, other developers and homebuilders are working like Santa’s elves to create new opportunities for lake home ownership.
Who knows? If you are nice, you might just find yourself in a lake home in time to have a Merry Christmas in 2020.
*All sales data reported in the article is distilled from waterfront sales information pulled from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors MLS on Nov. 12, 2019.
Steve Arnberg is Vice President Real Estate Sales for Russell Lands On Lake Martin. Contact him at 256-329-0835.