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Jul. 22, 2019
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2018 Lanier real estate recap plus predictions

By Bev Knight
 
You may not be surprised to hear that 2018 was a very good year for Lake Lanier real estate. The lake was full most of the year which certainly added to its appeal. Rising interest rates may have created some urgency for many buyers, and a good economy continued to raise consumer confidence. As they say, numbers don’t lie. With a few exceptions for extraordinarily rainy months and the time around the contentious governor’s race, almost every month in 2018 outperformed 2017.
 
The total volume of all Lanier’s lakefront sales was up 8 percent to $168 million.* The number of transactions rose 13 percent to 279. The average price of a lake home stayed about the same at $602,000. That is a strong number, especially compared to the recession years. Another encouraging stat is the average number of days a home stayed on the market before it went under contract. That statistic went from 99 in 2017 to only 75 this past year, a 24 percent improvement. As I’m sure you know, fewer days on the market is definitely a sign of a healthier market.
 
One of the most striking trends is the improvement in luxury lake sales. In any given market, a “luxury” home is defined as one with a value in the top 10 percent of that market. For example, a luxury home in New York City would be a different price point than one in small-town Georgia. On Lake Lanier, that number is in the low $700s. This year, there was a 21 percent gain in luxury lake sales with a total of 80 high-end properties closed. During the recession, there were years when only a dozen luxury homes sold, and very few of those were over $1 million. In contrast, over 20 Lanier homes priced over $1 million sold in ’18.
 
There were new trends in home design, too. Dark cabinets are out, and white or off white cabinets are in. Granite counters are declining in popularity, with engineered stone like quartz, and natural soapstone trending. Butcher block accents, especially islands, are often seen in high end homes. It is also common to see an island painted a darker color than the rest of the cabinetry. Remember when you ditched all of your brass fixtures? Guess what. Brass is making a comeback. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the curved, ornate pieces from the ’80s. It’s more simple with “clean lines” and a sleek profile. Painted brick is also a popular trend though many homeowners are still a little wary of it. The interior color du jour is greige which is a mixture of gray and beige. But accent colors are coming back, especially rich, warm shades of blue.
 
You may wonder if 2019 will top 2018 in lake sales. It’s possible, but several factors will come into play. Rising interest rates may shrink the buyer pool, especially for certain price points. The lake needs to stay full, as buyers clearly remember the 100-year drought, and those satellite shots still show up on the Internet. That makes it hard to sell a home on shallow water. More and more people have updated their homes; so, fixer-uppers are not appreciating at the same rate as the rest of lake homes. Try to do one update a year to keep your lake home up to par with competitive properties. The kitchen and master bath should be your first priority. You don’t want to wait until you’re ready to sell to do your updates. Do them now and enjoy them!
 
* Statistics were generated from the FMLS on 12/17/18 and compared to the same period in 2017.
 
Bev Knight is the lead agent for The Good Life Group, Lake Lanier specialists with Keller Williams Lanier Partners. You can find more articles or reach Bev at www.HousesOnLanier.net.

Posted online 12/26/18
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