#1 A HEALTHY AND VIBRANT MARKET: With lake home prices nearing 2006 levels again, and inventory 30%-40% down depending on price segment, home sellers are enjoying a steady market with prices edging up about 5% this year. Those sellers with deep water are clearly winners with low water properties patiently holding off the market until a full pool returns. Buyer activity is high, but with low inventory, it can be frustrating for a Buyer to find a home that fits their needs. Homes under $500,000 are in high demand with less than 60 days on the market and we are seeing multiple offers and just days on the market for hot properties. Lake lots are selling again, prices ranging from the $200’s in multi slip communities up to luxury lots from the 400’s up. A recent lot sale in Forsyth county sold for $800,000 this month. Custom homes are once again popping up on the lake, as lots and tear downs are seeing new builds.
#2 THE RETIREMENT REVOLUTION: With the success of Cresswind at Lake Lanier, Harbour Point, Marina Bay, Chestatee, and others, more Active Adult developments are moving fast to capture the growth and demand for new lake homes. An 880 unit Active Adult development on the lake with boat slips is in final approval in the City of Gainesville, (Dawsonville Highway between Ahaluna Drive and Sportsman Club Road). “Diamond Gardens”, in Cumming, off Pilgrim Mill Rd. is completing its clubhouse, tennis courts and pool this summer. Plans are to build 50 luxury homes, with boat slip included at it’s multi-slip marina.
#3 SECOND HOMES ON THE RISE: Buyers of all ages are heading to Lake Lanier for refuge from the “Concrete Jungle” of Atlanta, or as an escape from crowded beach towns or cold weather locations. With shopping and modern conveniences readily available now, our second home residents can enjoy all that our communities have to offer year-round. These buyers are looking for deep water boat dockage, and well-maintained and updated properties that they can move into with little or no renovation. Second homes are selling from the $250’s up to $1,800,000 this year.
#4 OUTDOOR LIVING SPACES: With our beautiful & mild weather on Lake Lanier, home owners are seeking outdoor living spaces more than ever. Whether you have a wooded or water view, enjoying nature and entertaining outdoors is something we all want more of. Swimming pools are in big demand. Elaborate outdoor patios, covered porches, outdoor kitchens, stone fireplaces and hot tubs are sought after. Those lucky enough to be close to the water are building outdoor pavilions & covered patios to get closer to the lake. Properties with an outdoor amenity generally enjoy less time on the market and more resale value.
#5 LUXURY LAKE SALES LOOKING UP: Luxury home sales over $1 million dollars are up 20% over the last 12 months in number of sales. Low interest rates and improving economy are helping this segment of the market to improve, regardless of water levels and low inventory. There are currently 50 homes now on the market over $1 million. Twenty homes have sold, and pending sales are up. Fifty percent of these sales are cash buyers, and about half are second homes. The average million-dollar lake home has 4-6 bedrooms and 5 baths with an average of 5500-8500 square feet. The average sales price in 2017 is $1,250,000 with an average of 90% sales to list price ratio. According to Mary Thompson, of Lake Lanier Appraisal Service, “Values steadily increasing about 1.5% year for homes priced $899,000-1,299,000 and values are up 8% for homes sold above $1,300,000”. About 75% of luxury homes sold have pools and most have screened porches or outdoor living spaces. The luxury homes sales are split evenly between south and north lake locations, with the majority in Hall County this year due to low inventory in other counties.
#6 UPDATING AND HOME MAINTENANCE IMPORTANT FOR TOP RESALE VALUE: In the hot market prior to 2007, buyers were content purchasing homes in all price points prepared to remodel and even fix issues. The era of the weekend warrior paid off for investors. Property values were going up rapidly and buyers knew they could recapture their investment quickly. The next generation of lake buyer is much more interested in lifestyle and ease of transition, as well as resale value. Their first choice when purchasing will be a home lovingly maintained and with updates such as modern kitchen, bathrooms, decks, roofs and systems if needed.
#7 DRESSING UP THE SHORES: With water quality and erosion control always an important topic, we are seeing
more homeowners and businesses taking a proactive stance. Just take a cruise on the lake and you will see homeowners lining the shoreline with granite rip rap stone. We are receiving the benefit of a beautiful shoreline while also receiving the shoreline protection Lake Lanier is sorely in need of. Additionally…Old docks are gradually being removed or refurbished, with newer, more attractive and safer docks appearing in their places. Owners with newer and well-maintained docks will also receive some benefits of a higher price at resale.
#8 NORTH VS SOUTH, LIFESTYLE NOW DETERMINES BEST LOCATION: “Location, Location!” Isn’t that what we hear about real estate? In 2017, buyers are interested in “lifestyle living”. With so many different choices for boating and lifestyles on Lanier, no longer is south or north the preferred location for real estate. Those still commuting to Atlanta and seeking close proximity to South Lake restaurants and attractions are seeking the south end. The North Lake still attracts buyers for it’s quieter coves, and private areas for those who enjoy skiing, kayaking and a more peaceful setting. With so many older established lake neighborhoods, new communities, and country club neighborhoods, there is something for everyone here on Lanier.
#9 MEGA-RENOVATIONS & TEAR DOWNS: Can’t find that perfect lot? Do what the owners at 6010 Chimney Springs, in Buford did. In 2004, Drs. Joe Clarino and Deb Cirone, purchased a 70’s cottage on a fantastic south lake lot. They lived their dream of designing and building their ideal lake home around the existing cottage. In 2008, their stunning new 6000 square foot home and pool were featured on HGTV’s “My Big Amazing Renovation”. I was fortunate to get to market and sell this stunning home last year. Others are finding that special lot and tearing down the existing cottage to make room for their new custom homes. It’s one way to get that perfect home on your list!
#10 INVESTMENT PROPERTIES: We see them in all shapes and sizes. Investment properties are paying out for smart buyers. Whether it is shifting cash from Wallstreet to Mainstreet for a second home, or the desire to manage a vacation property, we are seeing more and more investment properties. With the internet and rental sites readily available, investors are making their way to Lanier. Close proximity to Atlanta, the North Georgia Mountains and the airport makes our lake a smart choice for investors.
Sheila Davis, is a lake resident since 1994, and lead agent for “Lake Lanier’s Finest” aka The Sheila Davis Group, Specializing in Lake Lanier Real Estate at The Norton Agency . You can contact Sheila through her website http://www.LakeLaniersFinest.com. Special thanks to Mary Thompson of Lake Lanier Appraisal Service for her contribution.
Published July 2017 The Gainesville Times, August 2017 Lakeside on Lanier News and Lake Lanier Assoc. newsletter July 2017