HALL COUNTY, Ga. - Mary Thompson has lived along Lake Lanier for 25 years, appraising home values for 23 of them.
Two winters ago, she saw the lake at its highest level ever and, in 2007, at its record low.
"It was 20 feet below full pool then. Today, we're a little bit over six feet," Thompson said.
Even though lake levels have risen about four feet since New Year's Day, the waterline has still receded significantly from many lakefront homes. Beaches are larger and docks are higher above the surface of the lake than they otherwise would be.
Thompson said the low lake impacts one of the major features potential homebuyers are looking for.
"Views are probably number one, but deep water would probably come in a close second," Thompson said.
The low lake levels are having a small, though temporary, impact on lakefront property values.
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"If there's still water there and you have a decent view, you're in pretty good shape. But as that water goes down, and you have limited navigation in and out of where the boat dock is, that could impact the value," Thompson said.
She said many homeowners are choosing to delay the sale of lakefront property, waiting for the lake level to come back up. For those looking to buy property along Lake Lanier, she said the the low lake level could represent a buying opportunity in an otherwise seller's market.
"There will be buyers that might be more willing to purchase the property if the owner is willing to discount it a little bit," Thompson said.
Thompson stressed that as the lake level comes back up, so will property values. Overall, she said the outlook for the real estate market along the lake is strong.
"It's not like 'Oh my gosh, I'm dropping way down in value and I'm not going to recover,'" she said."Patience is a virtue."
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