Lake Lanier Real Estate in a Pandemic-Recession

Homes like this one with a view are in demand.
Homes like this one at 2410 Island Drive, with a lake view, are in demand.

Recently, I consulted with a buyer who couldn't understand why it is not more of a buyers' market for Lake Lanier luxury homes - million dollar plus lakefront homes, given the fact we are in a recession/pandemic with no jumbo mortgages available to speak of. To demonstrate the level of buyer activity, I pulled from our multiple listing service (First MLS) the current pending sales and 'Active/Under Contract' listings at $995,000 and higher, as to list price. (Active/Under Contract is a status for homes that have a contract, but are still within the buyer due diligence period).

As of today, July 26, 2020, there are 18 lake homes under contract on Lake Lanier with a list price over $995,000. List prices that I pulled for this quick look, range from $995,000 to $2.3 million. Interestingly, there are a total of 55 Lake Lanier homes showing 'Active' status, ranging from $999,000 to $7.995 million. With 25% of Lake Lanier's total million plus homes under contract, I wouldn't necessarily call it a buyers' market. But there's more activity around the million price point that one might think.

Also interesting to note is that these homes that are pending, were on the market an average of 82 days, which is lower than some might expect for homes in this price point, especially given the availability of a jumbo mortgage. Jumbo mortgages are loans that are larger than the limits set for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to insure. Currently the conventional loan limit is $510,400. Most lenders currently have no investors for a jumbo mortgage and therefore, aren't offering the product to borrowers. Recently, a Wells Fargo loan officer told me that they were still doing jumbo loans. Then, I learned that Wells Fargo - the largest provider of jumbo loans - has reportedly limited jumbo purchases to buyers who have at least $250,000 in liquid funds on deposit with Wells Fargo. Most buyers in this price point are obtaining a mortgage for the maximum conventional loan amount of $510,400 and paying the balance of the sales price in cash. 

The average sales price for a lakefront home, year-to-date, on Lake Lanier for 2020 is $629,000 based on sales contracted after January 1, 2020 and was on the market average 85 days. Note how the more expensive, luxury homes at the million price point and above, were on the market for almost the same average time, at 82 days average.

To give you an idea of how quickly these listings near that average price point are moving, this Lake Lanier listing, currently pending, at 3338 Little Circle, Gainesville GA (north Lake Lanier) was on the market for 19 days before going under contract.

This lakefront listing at 3130 Edgewater Drive, Gainesville GA garnered multiple offers and was pending after one day on the market.

Many factors go into pricing lakefront property on Lake Lanier. Several years ago I wrote a blog discussing the factors that weigh in to valuing a home or property on Lake Lanier. Nothing has changed as to these factors that make lake property more desirable. To learn more about how Lake Lanier properties are valued, visit Deep water and year-round water views are two of the factors that weigh heavily in lake properties most sought after.

It's not just here at Lake Lanier that these luxury properties are performing better here than one might have expected.There are many reasons this market is performing well. With luxury buyers, it is more a matter of 'want' than 'need.' As an Atlanta area agent explained in this article, buyers are "flocking to the lake areas of Greater Atlanta from states like New York, New Jersey and Florida, where prices for similar properties are much higher."

If you are thinking of selling and would like to schedule a personal consultation, I would love to see your lake property. Also, I work with sellers of farms and ranches and buyers in finding properties as well. 

I live at Lake Lanier, and have been here in the same neighborhood over half my life. There's nothing like waking up to a different sunrise over Lake Lanier every day. A Gainesville native, I know this area and love sharing my knowledge of the area with those eager to be here and learn more about it.

Visit my website, or call me at 770-540-3788 to schedule a consulation.


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