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Smith Mountain Lake BUYER’S GUIDE

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smith mountain lake real estate nearest airports

Nearest Cities and Airports

By Smith.Mountain.Lake.Real.Estate.Agent | December 20, 2022

Where is the nearest airport to Smith Mountain Lake? How far are the nearest major cities? These are common questions from people thinking about buying real estate at Smith Mountain Lake. There are 2 airports within 1 hour of the lake, and 7 airports within 4 hours. Visit https://smithmountainlake.homes/nearest-cities-airports/ for links to airports, maps, and …

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smith mountain lake real estate

How to Increase the Value of a Smith Mountain Lake Home

By Smith.Mountain.Lake.Real.Estate.Agent | October 26, 2022

Every homeowner wants the value of their home to go up. But other than just “waiting” for the market, what else can you do? Although house updates and renovations will of course add value, for homes at Smith Mountain Lake, it pays off to take a somewhat different approach. The top 3 things that impact …

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smith mountain lake real estate

Should I Buy an SML Home Above or Below the Bridge??

By Smith.Mountain.Lake.Real.Estate.Agent | September 21, 2022

Well first off, what on earth am I talking about?? What is “the bridge,” and what do I mean by “above and below?” To clear that up a bit, let’s look at a simple map of SML. Below is a map I marked up myself, which can also be viewed on the website at https://smithmountainlake.homes/about-sml/ …

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Real Estate at Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake waterfront homes, condos, & lots. View listings, search by price, or arrange a showing. Detailed local area info provided. Please click on a "Property Type" box above to see current listings at Smith Mountain Lake.

Smith Mountain Lake waterfront property is available in many varieties, from small condos under $100,000, to breathtaking mansions for millions, along with everything in between, including a great selection of vacant lots. So there's a home or real estate type for every budget. Situated in Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains, Smith Mountain Lake's 500 miles of shoreline offers a wide selection of waterfront real estate. You can choose a private, quiet home in a cove with just a few neighbors in sight, or live in a well-planned community with amenities such as swimming pools, fitness facilities, covered boat slips, golf courses, and even an equestrian center. Smith Mountain Lake waterfront properties can be seen in the following areas: Moneta, Huddleston, Hardy, Union Hall, Penhook, Wirtz, and Goodview. Each area offers a great selection of waterfront real estate for sale. And each town does have it's own "personality." A good realtor can show you these homes, and provide important information which is unique to the Smith Mountain Lake real estate market. They should also be able to answer your questions, and even give you an informative tour of the area.

If you might fly to visit Smith Mountain Lake, you may be interested in this recent article I wrote which details the nearest cities and airports: https://smithmountainlake.homes/nearest-cities-and-airports/

How Smith Mountain Lake homes have changed over time

The composition of homes at the lake has gone though an evolution of sorts through the years. Real estate at Smith Mountain Lake in the 1960's and 70's was comprised mostly of small lake cabins and mobile homes used as summer getaways, typically built on lots with breathtaking views. From the 1980's and beyond, real estate here has transformed, and now includes many subdivisions with typical suburban homes, condo developments, and multi-million dollar mansions. Each year you can tour some of the lake's nicest homes by attending the Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour, held every October.

The Smith Mountain Lake community has recently grown into a favorite place for transplants to move to and live permanently. Virtually all owners of Smith Mountain Lake property are from somewhere else originally. This makes for a very friendly community, as there are no "outsiders," and most people feel right at home in this happy, relaxed, and safe community. The lake remains a popular destination for vacationers as well who may never purchase real estate here, but who simply enjoy the beauty of SML, and the atmosphere of sun and fun people have enjoyed here for decades.


7 KEY FACTORS : What drives Smith Mountain Lake real estate prices?

A description of the 7 key factors that drive prices of Smith Mountain Lake real estate (you might be surprised!). When touring Smith Mountain Lake homes for sale, consider the following factors to be a fully informed buyer.

Price Factor # 1: View, View, View!
Any Smith Mountain Lake real estate which offers a breathtaking view will often become the #1 property on a buyer's preferred list of homes. Some homes may have views of the blue ridge mountains as well as the lake. But a view with a lot of "wow factor" is often the primary consideration that drives a buyer's purchase. "Location Location, Location?" Virtually all waterfront Smith Mountain Lake properties have that; the lake itself IS the location! Here at the lake, we say "View, View, View!"

Once you buy a property at Smith Mountain Lake, you can actually increase the value of your real estate by improving the water view. How? I talk about that in this recent blog post: How to Increase the Value of a Smith Mountain Lake Home

Price Factor #2: Slope
All Smith Mountain Lake real estate has some degree of slope. Lots vary from gentle slopes to quite steep. The more gentle the slope, the higher the price. But with a steeper slope, you may get a great deal. As you visit homes for sale that you've interested in, you'll notice some homes with steeper slopes may have golf cart paths all the way to the water. This makes it easy to get to your dock, and virtually eliminates any issues with a steep slope. For more details about lot slopes, see my recent article: The slope of your home’s lot-does it really matter?

Price Factor #3: Waterfront

  • Length of shoreline: at least 100 feet of shoreline is desirable, 100-150 feet is typical for most Smith Mountain Lake properties.
  • Water depth: a 6-10 foot depth or more at the dock is desirable. For live reports, go to smithmountainlakelevel.com
  • Water quality: rarely an issue, but about 5% of homes are on water that is muddy and brackish.
  • Dock: very important to most buyers; some docks are elaborate, many are quite simple but still fully functional. For full information on dock building at the lake, visit smithmountainlake.homes/aep-regulations

Price Factor #4: The Home
As in any real estate market, the house's condition, size, style, and general curb appeal all factor into the property's price. There are many Smith Mountain Lake homes for sale that are "move-in ready." Other homes with issues may still sit on a fantastic lot with million dollar views, and are worth renovating, or even tearing down and rebuilding.

Price Factor #5: Location, Location, Location
In most real estate markets, this is #1. But as mentioned, all Smith Mountain Lake waterfront homes have the location: THE LAKE! So the specific location at the lake is more a matter of preference. You might want to be within a certain distance of a specific medical facility for example (for a recent discussion about medical facilities at the lake, see Medical Care and Facilities at Smith Mountain Lake). You may want to be within 10 minutes of a supermarket, a golf course community, or within a certain driving distance from another location. Or you may want to be private and more remote with an "away from it all" feel. Fortunately, the wide variety of Smith Mountain Lake homes for sale at any given time offers a broad spectrum of real estate options to suit your preferences. For a recent blog post about property location on the lake, you can view Should I Buy an SML Home Above or Below the Bridge?? This article discusses a commonly asked question from prospective buyers shopping for Smith Mountain Lake real estate.

Price Factor #6: Cove versus Main Channel
This is mostly a matter of personal preference that tends to evolve as you shop for real estate at the lake, but the longest water views are typically found on the main channel. A cove location may be a bit more limited regarding view, but the advantage is it's quieter, great for swimming, and often just 2-3 minutes from the main channel. When touring your list of Smith Mountain Lake homes for sale, you will see both scenarios, and will likely have a better sense of what you prefer after viewing several properties.

Price Factor #7: Lot Size
Regarding lot size, most buyers value the factors discussed above so much more, that the size of the lot doesn’t really matter. As long as the above factors are in place to a buyer's liking with any Smith Mountain Lake property, acreage is not usually a high priority for the majority of prospective buyers at the lake.

Renting Smith Mountain Real Estate

If you're planning to buy a house or condo and then offer it as a vacation rental to help pay expenses, be sure to first check county regulations, as there are varying rules about renting your Smith Mountain Lake home. Not all Smith Mountain Lake real estate can be rented short term. Bedford County allows short term rentals (as short as 1 night) for any type of home. Franklin County is more restrictive; they allow many condos and townhomes to be rented short term, but only a small number of houses (it depends on the zoning the home has). Pittsylvania County, which covers only a tiny part of SML, also allows short term rentals for any type of home. But be aware that if there's an HOA bylaw prohibiting vacation rentals of your Smith Mountain Lake home, this will override the allowances by the counties. It's best to check with a knowledgeable SML realtor to clarify whether a Smith Mountain Lake home can be rented or not. A good agent should be able to provide this information for you in short order.

How much can I rent my Smith Mountain Lake Home for?

Given the wide variety of Smith Mountain Lake real estate, rental rates also vary considerably. During peak demand periods in the summer, a smaller condo or townhome may rent for around $1,000 per week, whereas a large mansion may rent for $5,000 per week or more. Rates you can charge are less during lower demand times of the year however. The very highest rents are charged during 4th of July week. To see current rates for rentals, check these popular sites, which we have already defaulted to SML: VRBO.com-Smith Mountain Lake and Airbnb.com-Smith Mountain Lake.

What are the best times of year to rent my home?

The "high season" at Smith Mountain Lake is mid-May to mid-September. These 16 weeks are the prime rental weeks, the most in demand, and when you will make the majority of your annual rental income from your waterfront real estate. There are some other times of year when homes can be rented, such as holidays, but your primary income will be earned during these warm weather 16 weeks.

You rental income will vary from season to season, and that of course has to do with the weather to some degree. For a relevant discussion about weather at Smith Mountain Lake, you can read this article recently posted to the blog, Weather at Smith Mountain Lake.

If you buy a Smith Mountain Lake waterfront home, and decide you want to be aggressive about renting it, you should plan to start marketing it January 1 for that year, as many people make vacation plans well in advance. You can realistically expect to get 10-12 weeks rented the first year. After 2-3 years, you may be able to get up to 16 solid weeks or more, as you will have some repeat renters that come back every year.

Will I make money by renting my Smith Mountain Lake property?

This is a common question. The answer is yes and no. Although there are rental properties that earn enough income to pay the mortgage, all expenses of ownership, and still provide positive cash flow for the owner, this is relatively uncommon at SML. For most homeowners who rent their Smith Mountain Lake property, the rental income is a primarily a way to defray the cost of ownership, vs. produce positive cash flow and make a profit. That said, renting is an excellent way for many people to own a beautiful Smith Mountain Lake home that they otherwise could not afford.

If you want to produce positive cash flow with Smith Mountain Lake real estate, you'll want to look for a large home that can accommodate the highest number of people possible. This is best achieved with a home that uses public water, but the majority of Smith Mountain Lake homes are served by septic systems.

The size of a home's septic system determines how many people can stay there. The rule is 2 times the number of bedrooms the septic system can service. For example: a home with a 3 bedroom septic system can legally accommodate 6 people overnight, but no more. Knowing this, a homeowner we know built a beautiful Smith Mountain Lake home with an 8 bedroom septic system, specifically to be able to rent his home to large groups (16 people at a time in this case). This home regularly produced a net profit for the owner each year, while still fully paying the mortgage. There is a lot to consider when renting your home, but a realtor familiar with Smith Mountain Lake real estate rentals can help you navigate this sometimes complex endeavor.

Smith Mountain Lake BUYER'S GUIDE

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