Despite a weak housing market across the nation, realtors say the lake area continues to show signs of resisting those trends.

The lake area has a lot to offer and it is showing when it comes to the real estate market, according to Conda Davidson, a lake area realtor and member of the Bagnell Dam Association of REALTORS®.


Despite a weak housing market across the nation, realtors say the lake area continues to show signs of resisting those trends.
The lake area has a lot to offer and it is showing when it comes to the real estate market, according to Conda Davidson, a lake area realtor and member of the Bagnell Dam Association of REALTORS®.
 While there are slightly fewer real estate deals happening at the Lake of the Ozarks this year compared to years’ past, the average selling price of real estate continues to increase steadily. 
The selling average for residential property jumped from $271,000 to $283,000 in a single year. Commercial real estate saw the biggest gain in average selling price, climbing from an average of $545,000 to an average of $628,000, according to the most recent report released by the association.
“Buyers are coming into the marketplace assuming that the market is declining, but property values are still on the rise here,” said Karie Jacobs, secretary of the association.
“It shows when you have an increase in the average price – that’s the key,” association president Mary Albers said.
Albers said realtors credit the upswing to an overall increase in commercial development, in part because of transportation and infrastructure improvements. 
Construction of the Highway 54 Expressway in Osage Beach is underway, as is the construction of the four-lane Route 5 bypass in Camdenton.  Both projects are expected to greatly improve the ability for people to travel around the lake.
“We have so many positive things in our area,” Davidson said. “We are getting more infrastructure in terms of roads. State governments don’t do that if they don’t anticipate growth.”
The anticipated growth is likely an extension of the growth that the Lake of the Ozarks real estate market enjoyed, especially over the past five years, she said.  
Ryan Gattermeir, vice president of the association, says steady growth keeps the Lake of the Ozarks market unique from other real estate markets and encourages potential buyers to value local trends over national trends.
“Other markets like Florida, California, and Arizona saw huge gains in property value, basically too much too fast; we have seen impressive, yet steady, appreciation for lake properties,” Gattermeir said.
Another local advantage that sets the Lake of the Ozarks apart from other real estate markets, Davidson said, is whether property is commercial, residential, or agricultural, property taxes tend to be low at Lake of the Ozarks compared to property taxes in other parts of the country.
“A lot of people come from Chicago and think that their yearly tax rate on a property here is for a single month,” Davidson said. “Lower property tax rates open your buying power a lot more – you can afford more home.”
Buyers and sellers benefit from the lower property tax rates. 
The association says the average number of days that homes were on the market is relatively the same this year as it has been in years past, even though property values have increased.
In 2007, the average days-on-market for residential property was 119 days. In the first six months of 2008, the average is 121 days.
While second home real estate markets in other parts of the country attract headlines with instability and devaluing properties, the Lake of the Ozarks real estate market holds relatively steady, and property values continue to climb.
“Our product has been undervalued compared to other second home resort markets, but there has not been a devaluation in 10 years,” Jacobs said.
The Lake of the Ozarks also boasts a high average list-to-sell ratio, which is the price that a property sells for compared to its listed price.  The area’s list-to-sell ratio is 95 percent, while other comparable markets have list-to-sell ratios between 60 and 70 percent.
Contact this reporter at joycem@lakesunleader.com