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 the value of a home at SML are: 1) the view; 2) the slope of the lot; 3) the waterfront (meaning how much of it do you have, how deep is it, how pretty is the water, do you have a good boat dock, etc.).
You might be thinking, “I can’t really change any of those things!” but that would be incorrect. With rare exceptions, you can almost always change these things for the better. I discuss this below. In addition to adding value, improving these factors will likely enhance your enjoyment of the property as well!
For an in-depth description of ALL pricing factors at SML (there are 7 total), you can look on the homepage (when you get there, scroll down just a bit): https://smithmountainlake.homes
The View: The best way to increase your property’s value is to improve the lake view as much as you can. So if you have a lot of trees blocking your view of the lake, removing those trees will dramatically open up your view of the water, and increase your property’s value. Removing trees below the 800’ contour requires a permit from AEP. Trees above the 800’ contour can be removed without a permit, as long as your HOA/POA allows it. Years ago, we bought a vacant waterfront lot that was heavily wooded; it was so wooded that you could not see the lake at all from anywhere on the lot, except for standing right at the shoreline. But I could tell with the trees gone, the view would be tremendous. So we bought that lot for $220,000. We then had the trees removed for about $20,000 cost. The first time I drove to the lot after the tree clearing, I was astonished by what I saw. The view was absolutely breathtaking. Just 5 months later, we sold that lot for $389,750. It was once a lot with NO view of the water. By spending $20,000 on tree clearing, we changed it to a lot with a beautiful water view. I believe this price increase was ALL because of this new water view.
As an example of this process, here are photos of one lot I’m familiar with that had tree clearing done. The first photo is the “BEFORE” picture, the second is the “AFTER.” This is the SAME lot! And both photos are looking towards the water. The photos don’t do it justice for showing the transformation, but hopefully you can still see the difference.
The Slope: Regarding the slope of a lot (the more gentle the slope, the better), what can you do? Well, you can’t really change the slope, but you can significantly improve a property with a steep slope. How? A gentle slope allows for an easy way to get to the dock; that’s why it’s so desired. But if you have a steeper slope for example, are you doomed to a difficult walk every time? NO! You can install a golf cart pathway from the house to the waterfront/dock. Even if the lot is steeper, the “ease” of getting to the dock will now be there, and that’s what’s most important. A golf cart path is actually good to have regardless of your slope. If you want to carry a cooler full of food and drinks to the dock, do you really want to carry all that in your hands? Even if it’s a gentle slope? Adding a golf cart path (paved or gravel) makes egress to the dock easy, and will add to the value of your property.
The Waterfront: For the waterfront, you of course need a boat dock. But you can improve the value of your home by properly maintaining the dock. Replace old and/or rotted deck boards. Replace boat lift cables when they get worn out. Keep the dock clean. Set up a table with an umbrella where you can sit. Other than the dock considerations, you might also consider adding a firepit area, or a nice patio near the waterfront (fyi, those things do need to be above the 800’ contour however). Any nice area where you can “hang out,” and enjoy a cup of coffee, have a glass of wine, all while taking in the peace and quiet of the lake.
Keep in mind that people buy homes at Smith Mountain Lake for…….wait for it………the LAKE! You don’t have to come to SML to buy a nice house; you can do that anywhere. People come to the lake for the “sun and fun” they get to enjoy here. As a result, the specific “lake aspects” of a property are the factors that truly drive the prices of homes at SML.
By Ted Ciporin, Realtor
Wainwright & Company Realtors®
16503 Booker T. Washington Hwy.
Moneta, VA 24121