So the question about how is the local real estate market, locally, is always asked at the beginning of the year.
Here’s the answer: First, all markets are “local,” including Lake Lanier. And the lake market is very good, although the dynamics continue to be different than in past years. A market slow-down from last year’s interest rate hikes has been a slight factor in demand but not nearly the factor it’s been in other markets. As mortgage rates decrease in the first quarter of 2024, we have seen increased showing activity in all price points. This has been mostly balanced out by low inventory levels and high buyer demand. Prices have increased year over year by 14% for lake homes with private docks. Home inventory is up 36% today from a year ago, but still is considered very low.
2024 is again going to be a seller’s market on Lanier. There is also good news for buyers who can take advantage of lower rates this year and have a little more time to shop as multiple offers have slowed up except for the top 5% of listings. For buyers, some of the best properties are still going under contract within 1-10 days, while the average days on market is 68. It’s best to be intentional with your home search by working with a lake specialist Realtor and don’t delay making offers if you are shopping for a lake home this spring.
Home prices continued to rise last year, as home inventories remained low and fewer homes sold. Prices rose 14% on homes with private docks, slightly higher than homes with marina slips. The average sales price for a home with a private dock was $1,225,597 and for all lake homes including marina slips was $1,113,443. A total of 232 lake homes sold vs 306 in 2022, down 29%. It is difficult to estimate how many sellers sat on the sidelines comfortable in their low interest rates or waiting for the lake levels to come back up.
2023 was the first time the lake has been down significantly since 2017. With the lake levels rising quickly in January, and the hopes of getting back to normal levels, we believe more sellers may decide to list their homes in 2024. Fortunately, we are beginning 2024 with 36% more “active” homes for sale than last year. Regardless of the stats, it is clear Lake Lanier remains a very sought after destination for so many. With the average days on market only 64 days, homes are getting scooped up quickly and still some properties with multiple offers. We anticipate 2024 to be a healthy lake home market as we transition to normal.
We began January 2023 with just 69 “active” home listings, which negatively affected sales for the first quarter and into the rest of the year. Fortunately, we are beginning 2024 36% higher and we are predicting more sellers will decide to market their homes this year. Inventory is especially low in properties under a million dollars. Properties are in demand at all price levels although the Airbnb transactions have softened since the 2021-2022 market. 2024 will be another seller’s market when looking at buyer demand and the lake’s lower than normal market inventory.
Sellers: The prime time to list your home is February 15-March 15 when you have less competition and buyers are the most interested with summer approaching.
In 2023, homes over a million dollars made up 46% of Lake Lanier’s sales. The average lake home today sells for $1,225,597 with 3,692 square feet with four bedrooms and 3½ baths. The higher interest rates have paused the market a little, but well over half the luxury sales were cash and unaffected. Lake Lanier broke the $3 million ceiling in 2023. With 102 million dollar-plus homes closed in 2023, 13 homes sold between $2 million, 5 homes sold over $3 million, and one home at $4,375,000. Luxury buyers are buying full time residences to work from home and luxury second homes. Luxury buyers are looking for newer construction or quality well maintained homes with updates. Outdoor living spaces and lake views top the list, with a deep-water dock for the boat(s). Large homes with 4-6 bedrooms can still appeal to many buyers, but the larger the home, the lower the dollars per square foot in sales price. The average luxury home sells for $372/sf. Homes with exceptional lots and views and/or new construction homes are selling for as high as $450/sf, and a few higher. The average days on market is a low 68 days. We predict that 2024 will continue to be a seller’s market.
The lake levels are rising to normal levels and spring is just around the corner. As long as buyer choices are low, prices will remain steady and increase into 2024. For luxury sellers, having recent updates, good maintenance, attractive curb appeal and hiring a Lake Lanier specialist as your Realtor can help you win, achieving top price with a smooth transaction.
Photo: provided by Sheila Davis.