SIX FACTORS TO VALUE LAKE LANIER PROPERTY

I love seeing Lake Lanier full to the brim! Current lake level shows 1070.60’ which is only .31 feet below full pool of 1071. I have an icon on my iPhone that says Lake Level, and I'm constantly checking it, especially as it nears full pool. It seems everyone gets excited about lake properties when the lake is full and the weather is beautiful. I know I do! I’m betting it's full pool or better by tomorrow as we are in the midst of a slow moving spring thunderstorm. Duke, my 7 year-old black Labrador retriever is nestled at my feet as I type away, the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes.

Lake Lanier was constructed by the US Army Corp of Engineers in the 1950’s. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers website, it is one of America’s favorite lakes, visited by over 7.5 million people each year. With its easy proximity to metropolitan Atlanta, including Cumming, Gainesville, and of course, my hometown, Dawsonville, it’s easy to see why Lake Lanier is so popular and will continue to be. I was born in Gainesville, and my home and office are within 3 miles of my birthplace, Hall County Hospital, now known as Northeast Georgia Medical Center. If I ever mention that, the next thing I'm typically asked is if I've ever been on an airplane. Well, as a matter of fact, I have. I could, in fact, land an airplane on Lake Lanier if only the US Corp would only let me. Lanier has over 692 miles of shoreline and spans counties Gwinnett, Hall, Forsyth, Dawson and even a portion of Lumpkin County. The photo at the very bottom is one that I captured just North of Harbour Pointe looking south. Harbour Pointe is a John Wieland development off Highway 53 in Northwest Hall County.

There are many factors that will influence and determine the value of a Lake Lanier property.

  1. HOW DEEP IS THE WATER? Whether or not the property will always have water is a huge factor in determining value. We are fortunate most all the counties Lake Lanier touches have GIS (Geographic Information System) data available  with aerial images. This GIS data can be accessed at each county’s website. For instance in Hall County, we have GIS images from 2008 when the lake was 20’ down and also images from 2010 when the lake was full pool. Before I list a Lake Lanier property or show a property to a potential buyer, I have those images loaded into my iPad for viewing, as that is a major factor in determining value. Also, important to note is that the US Army Corps of Engineers website has a link available, Lake Level Database that shows every day’s lake level for every year since 1956 when the lake started filling up. The photo above is a property that is listed for over $2 million. The Hall County GIS Images here show how the property looked in 2008 and also in 2010. As you can see, the lake was hardly even visible in the photo in 2008.
  2. WHERE IS THE CORP LINE? The Corp line is often depicted with red painted marks on a tree, small metal signs or orange posts. A Corp line that is close to or even in the water makes a property more desirable, as property owners are restricted as to what they can do on US Corp property. Permits from the US Corp must be obtained for paths, lighting, bringing water out of the lake as irrigation, docks, and even to cut dead trees. Dead trees are typically taken down by the US Corp at US Corp expense if it is in danger of falling and hitting a dwelling.
  3.  IS THERE A YEAR ROUND VIEW? Most buyers want to see the water year round. They surmise that if they are going to spend the money for a lake house, they want to know it’s there when they look out. I walked into a house a couple of days ago that I am listing, and the view just floored me. All I could say was WOW. I can hardly wait to show that house to a buyer. Because when I hear WOW, I know we’re more than halfway there. Miles of water and a sunset view at that. I didn’t want to leave! Many lake buyers are surprised to find that the home with an incredible open winter view has no view whatsoever in the summer. Unfortunately, if the US Corp line is near the house, there is nothing than can be done as to taking down trees to open up the view. I have heard of homeowners who did just that assuming that they would just pay the fine and ended up losing their dock permit. There went most of the value of the lake property, speaking of which…
  4. IS THERE A DOCK OR DOCK PERMIT? This is the single largest factor that will determine the value of a lake property. Most buyers will not even consider a property that does not have a dock. Some properties are permitted for a swim dock only and cannot be upgraded to a slip dock. This is typically due to a cove that is crowded with docks and will not allow at least 20’ between docks when the lake is at full pool. The maximum size dock allowable on Lake Lanier is a double slip, 32’ x 32’ dock. Most lake buyers want their own dock. It is the buyer who has lived on the lake already who most often realizes the beauty of living in a community like Marina Bay or Harbour Pointe, where you own a slip and have no dock maintenance chores like letting the dock in and out.
  5. HOW IS THE WALK TO THE LAKE? At some properties, it’s just a few steps to the water. Short and level. These are the typically some of the most desirable lake properties and also hardest to find, I should add. At some properties, I have felt I need a cable to slide down to get to the water, it was so steep. The terrain and topography of the lot is a major factor in the marketability and value of the lake property.
  6. WHAT IS THE NEIGHBORHOOD LIKE? Some lake homes are going to be next to run down mobile homes; some are in established neighborhoods and some are in newly developed neighborhoods with community docks. It is personal preference, more than anything, that determines neighborhood suitability.
I have lake properties listed from $189,900 with a swim dock to the $1 million price point and they can be seen at www.KimWaters.com .  The properties with most demand are those below $600,000 with a year-round view. If you're a lake homeowner interested in selling, please contact me. If you're interested in buying, I'd love to hear from you too.. In addition to partnering with David Stovall, who handles the commercial end of our business, my mother, Joyce Waters, is a licensed Realtor and has been working with me since 2002.



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