Are you looking to buy something on the lake in the next few months? Here are a few things you might want to consider...
1. Do your research. Check out listings online. This bit of homework will give you a good idea of going prices and what you should expect to pay for lots and lake homes in specific subdivisions and/or areas of the lake.
2. Give considerable thought on how you will be using the property. Do you want a simple weekend get-a-way with little upkeep? Do you want a large home with room for plenty of people? Are you considering renting the property? Give your real estate agent as many details as possible.
3. Find a real estate agent who is experienced and knowledgeable about the Lake Wedowee market. Lake property has different characteristics to consider than traditional homes and land. The average agent does not normally have this detailed knowledge. Choosing the right agent can save you time, effort and aggravation in finding the right lake property for the right price.
4. Don't buy without setting foot on the property first. You should take the time to look it over closely and inspect it yourself. If possible, locate a copy of the site plan to determine exactly where the property lines are. If not, make obtaining and approving a survey a condition of the purchase contract.
5. Look into loans early. There have been many changes in the mortgage market in the last several years. You should start the process before you look at property because it can take a lot longer than a normal home loan. Also, when the time comes to make an offer, being pre-approved will strengthen your negotiating position with the seller.
6. Understand Lake Wedowee’s water level changes. Lake Wedowee’s water level changes in the winter months and with severe drought. This can make a difference in your access to the water and your view in winter months. Water level and water view also affect pricing. Normal summer pool level is 793’ mean sea level and the normal winter pool level is 785”.
7. Check on lot size requirements. If building, make sure the lot you're looking at will support a house of the size you want.
8. Find out what you can do with the property. Get a copy of the Restrictive Covenants for the subdivision or development to know what is allowed. If you want to make changes to your waterfront property, such as adding a dock or a seawall, you will need to contact Alabama Power Shoreline for guidelines and procedures to verify what you can do and getting the proper permits.
9. Check out road access and utility connections. If the property is remote, make sure you know who is responsible for maintaining the road. Many banks require a Road Maintenance Agreement before they will lend on remote property. If you're planning on building, do not assume that you will have access to electricity, water, sewage and other utilities. Make sure you will have access to these services.
10. When you make the purchase offer, be sure it is conditional on a satisfactory home inspection and/or an inspection of the land. For example, if you don't have access to sewage lines, make the offer conditional on your ability to obtain permits for a septic system. Plus, you should always make your offer contingent on your ability to obtain financing.
Leisel Caldwell, now retired from real estate, was a licensed real estate agent and broker for many years in the Lake Wedowee market.