Pandemic boon for Lake Martin real estate, Russell Lands VP says

Submitted / The Outlook

Ed Collari (left) chats with Steve Arnberg

Among the many unexpected results of 2020, country living has never looked more attractive.

This bodes for the Lake Martin area real estate market, the topic of the first installment of Alexander City Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Lake event. Because the pandemic does not bode well for large gatherings, State of the Lake is being held as a web series this year.

“(Sales) went up like a rocket ship being launched from Cape Canaveral,” Russell Lands VP of real estate Steve Arnberg said in the first episode of the series. “We have not seen any time in the history dating back to October of 2010 sales jumped that level.”

This was a surprise, Arnberg told chamber president and CEO Ed Collari.

“We thought back in March when COVID first came along that many of impending transactions we had, that a lot of people would try and pause those or cancel those,” Arnberg said. “But what really happened is people really began to look at the lake a little bit differently.”

Lake living has been all-the-more attractive during the pandemic for its added space and ease of social distancing, Arnberg said.

“You (have) an outdoor living space,” he said. “In most lake homes you (have) a pier that allows you to converse with your neighbor from a safe distance. Boating from your lake place (is) much safer and this past spring was a beautiful spring; the lake filled a little bit earlier.”

As a result, the Lake Martin real estate market in March and April didn’t look all that different from the previous year, Arnberg said. May, meanwhile, saw an improvement with a 15% increase in average sales price year over year and an over 40% increase in volume.

“In May we saw the numbers really begin to tick up,” Arnberg said. “Rather than staying stable it actually shot way up — so COVID actually had a positive effect for the Lake Martin region.”

Inventory, meanwhile, has been at an all-time low. This keeps prices up which is good news for homeowners but bad news for buyers, he said.

However, there’s still potential for growth in the market with 350 miles of Lake Martin shoreline still undeveloped.

This is good news for Alexander City which, given its place on Highway 280, is “literally the gateway to Lake Martin,” Arnberg said.