There are two significant numbers that I pulled from the Lake Martin Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service recently: 49 and 182. The first one, 49, is the number of newly built or custom-built homes that have been reported as sold over the last year. The second number, 182, is the number of waterfront homesites that have been reported as sold over the last year as well (a 343 percent increase over last year). The sum of those two numbers is 231, the total number of new homes that have been or soon will be built on Lake Martin.
All of this new construction is definitely giving the lake a new (and hopefully better) look. Currently, the shoreline looks like a mass work site with houses under construction seemingly everywhere. This time next year, there will be a huge number of recently finished lake homes being used by new lake lovers. For those of us who like to cruise and admire lake homes, there will be a huge new batch to check out next summer.
While there are a few tried-and-true house designs being built, many homes are new designs, styles or, in increasing numbers, exterior color palettes. Twenty years ago, the houses built on the lake seemed, in too many cases, like they were designed for city environments. The driveway sides of the homes were the focus, instead of the all-important lake sides.
The design trend has definitely been reversed, with the current designs focused on the lake sides of the houses. The lake sides of the homes being built now are typically the most attractive with expansive use of windows that allow broad lake views and big investments in covered outdoor living space. After all, being at the lake is by definition an outdoor activity. Why not sit, cook and dine in comfort while enjoying the water at safe social distances?
These new designs can be found in quite a few brand-new places. The demand for lake homes has drained the market of ready-to-use inventory, and developers and builders have been working feverishly to create property for a still-increased demand.
Established communities like The Ridge have added neighborhoods, like South Ridge Harbor and Russell Cabins at The Ridge. These neighborhoods, especially in the west-facing section of South Ridge Harbor, have filled out almost overnight. The Willows of Willow Point is yet another example of a neighborhood expansion adjacent to an established area. Designs and exterior color palettes in The Ridge and The Willows are great places to see the trends.
StillWaters, another popular and established development on the lake, has seen a number of new-home communities pop up recently as well. The Hideaway, a new neighborhood in StillWaters, is not a secret anymore. Builders have built attractive cottages, and potential lake homeowners are excited about the product and the community.
Exciting new neighborhoods have popped up in familiar places as well. Kennebec and Talisi Cove are popular neighborhoods on the south end of the lake. Kennebec is literally just around the corner from Chimney Rock, and Talisi Cove faces the southern side of Kowaliga Bay.
The north side of the lake has seen two more affordable neighborhoods provide much needed supply. White Oak Landing and Miner’s Cove have been established just off U.S. Route 280 within the city limits of Alexander City. These neighborhoods offer a variety of new lakehome designs and beautiful homesites that are easily accessed and attractively priced, providing great opportunities for lake ownership.
It goes without saying that COVID-19 changed things in profound ways. A surprise to many was the immediate increase in demand for building materials, appliances, plumbing fixtures and labor. The tremendous increase in lumber prices due to the surprise increase in demand has reversed course, dropping closer to historic norms.
Other key components, like copper wiring, PVC pipes, appliances, plumbing fixtures and others are limited by supply chain issues. Builders are learning quickly how to schedule work to manage the impact on home-building schedules. The crews that build the homes have been fully employed during the entire pandemic, but like many other businesses, we hope more people will join the labor force.
There are many other neighborhoods and areas of the lake where new homes have been and will be built over the next year. In fact, I really only hit the high points for the neighborhoods mentioned above. This just emphasizes the point that with the tremendous addition of new homes being built on the lake, things will look much newer in the near future.
Steve Arnberg is Vice President Real Estate Sales for Russell Lands.