Thursday, September 26, 2019

October Lake of the Ozarks Real Estate Update

Check the Dock Permit Before You Buy

      The ability to have a dock and other types lakefront permits greatly affects property value.  The size of the dock envelope and distance from other structures also is a big factor.  Be sure you are making an informed decision before you commit to a purchase.
     In the process of searching for a lakefront property, be sure you understand the permitting process for docks.  It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with permitting for seawalls, ramps, breakwaters, boathouses and any other existing or desired improvements. When considering a property for purchase, always ask to see approved permits.
     When I list a property, I discuss the dock and various permits with the seller and request a copy of those permits from Ameren.  This shows all permitted items currently on the property along with a drawing of where the items should be situated according to the permit.  It can also indicate potential for a larger dock system or other items.  If it appears that any items are not permitted or appear to be out of the correct position, I help the owner arrange further investigation and correction, if necessary.
     I post the permit information with the listing data so buyers can easily determine if a property’s lakefrontage appears to suit their needs or if they can eliminate it from their list of homes to view.   This also helps them verify that the existing dock, seawall, etc. match the current permit and makes for a smoother real estate transaction.  I recommend that you do a visual inspection and get additional help if you aren’t sure about any permit items.       
     For most buyers, lakefront property with the availability to have or install a dock that suits their needs is crucial.  Not all lakefront property is able to have a dock, and some have significant limitations. This may be caused by a subdivision restriction; other times it is due to the way the lot lines run to the lake, position of the lot in a cove, size of cove, etc.  Some subdivisions designated certain lots as able to have a small dock, day dock, etc. BUT in the time since those subdivisions were created Ameren permitting rules changed and many of those lots are no longer able to obtain a permit.
     Docks are required to be installed within the boundaries set out by Ameren.  Because lot lines vary from lot to lot, the dock envelope can change greatly between properties.  Ameren can require a property owner to obtain a survey if there is any question or discrepancy about the location of permit items.  Additionally, there may be dock location agreements or easements granted to or by another property owner that you need to research before purchasing.    
     When ownership of a lakefront property with Ameren permits changes; Ameren must be notified, and the existing permit(s) should be transferred to the new owner.  An electrical inspection completed and approved by the appropriate authority within the previous 12 months must be submitted with the permit transfer.  If the electrical inspection shows that any items are not in compliance; those items must be corrected with an approval issued before Ameren will process the transfer.  Existing permit numbers stay with the property, they are NOT transferred with the dock. 
     Any new construction, replacement or modification of existing docks must be permitted.  The construction must be completed within one year of approval.  If the work is not complete in that time, you can apply for one six-month extension if there have not been any changes in the information submitted in the original application.   Ameren allows an exception for some large 3,000 square foot plus, residential and commercial docks and may permit a term up to four years.  If your permit expires, it is null and void.  You will have to complete a new application, along with fees in order to have a new permit issued.
       If you are a current property owner, make sure you have a copy of the permits, issued in your name, and that they are up to date.  Even if you are not considering selling, it’s a good idea to have up to date permits.  If permitting rules change and your permits are not current, you may have to modify your dock to maintain compliance.
     If you are purchasing lakefront property, ask to see a copy of the current permits.  If the owner does not have copies, ask them to make a request to Ameren for the permits.  Permit Requests are only accepted from the property owner or the Listing Agent if the property is listed.  If you are working with a Buyer’s Agent, ask them to request the information from the Listing Agent.  
     These are the type of issues that a good Broker will keep you informed about and walk you through any vital procedures to help you maintain your property’s value.  There are many unseen items beyond the house size, condition and location that you need to be aware of when making a purchase. 
     Michael Elliott has been selling real estate at the Lake of the Ozarks since 1981.  He is one of the most respected brokers in the area.  If you have interest in a career in real estate or would like Michael’s assistance in the sale or purchase of property, you can reach him at 573.365.SOLD or  View thousands of lake area listings at  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August Lake of the Ozarks Real Estate Update

     It’s Shootout month!  My family and I look forward to this every year; (beginning  Sunday night of the latest race).  All of the events leading up to and including the “Main Event” are a blast and bring so much activity to the area during a time frame that in years prior was a very slow time for lake area businesses.  I admire and appreciate all of the leaders and volunteers that work all year to make this event happen.  I thought I’d give you a little shootout stats and information (in case you’ve been living in a cave) then give you information about the lakefront real estate market that fronts the race area from the 32 to the 35 mile marker.
     Per the official Shootout website:  The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout is the largest unsanctioned boat race in the US, named one of the nation’s eight “must-see” boating events according to Powerboat Magazine, the Shootout will take place for the ninth year at Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill. The event raises funds for eight Lake-area rescue teams and numerous other charitable organizations; last year, $300,000.00 to 32 different Charities and 8 Fire Departments. The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout is alive and well and looking forward to the 31st year in August of 2019.
     If you are interested in a condo, Plaza Garden aka West Palms on the Lake, sets at the finish line.  Its located on the South end of the Hurricane Deck Bridge at the 35 Mile Mark across the chanel from Captain Ron’s, the home of the Shootout.  Currently there are eight units available priced from $194,000 to $310,000.  The units offer three and four bedrooms. The complex has dock slips, pool and clubhouse.
     A total of 16 Lakefront homes currently available range from $219,000 to $795,000 and offer homes with two to five bedrooms.  Property type and amenities vary widely on these.  Don’t let the top range of $795,000 put you off, the bulk of these houses are listed in the $200k to $300k range.  There are five homes in the $300k range and eight homes in the $200k range.
     If you have interest in more information on any of the properties in the area of the Shootout, let me know.  If you’d prefer to be as far as possible from the boat mecca created by the race, I can help you with that as well.  I also have a great group of knowledgeable, topnotch agents that will work in your best interest and are enjoyable to work with.  C. Michael Elliott and Associates is a boutique, privately owned office with a staff and full time agents that believe perfect service is a given. There are some great real estate agents at the Lake but you won’t find any better than the agents I work with daily.  Please give us a call if you are considering buying or selling, we’ll explain our services in detail and you can decide if we are a good fit for you.
     Michael Elliott has been selling real estate at the Lake of the Ozarks since 1981.  He is one of the most respected brokers in the area.  If you would like to work with Michael in the sale or purchase of property, or have interest in a career in real estate, contact him at 573.365.SOLD or  or stop by C. Michael Elliott & Associates, 3738 Osage Beach Parkway.  View thousands of lake area listings at  You can also view each months’ article, ask questions and offer your opinion on Michael’s real estate blog,

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

July Lake of the Ozarks Real Estate Update

2019 YTD Sales
     2019 YTD sales are almost identical in number of properties sold as 2018.  The first quarter of 2019 was lagging behind but May saw a large increase in sales compared to May 2018 as well as considerable increase from April 2019 to May 2019.  Inventory continues to remain low and the total new listings are 1.3% lower so far this year.

     As of May 31, a total of 1219 properties have sold this year (2018 sales were 1215).  The number of agent members in our local board of Realtors also continues to climb.  Currently, we have 733 members.  There were also 46 sales involving a non -member agent.
     As I discussed previously, there are not enough sales to support the number of Realtors currently working at Lake of the Ozarks.  While I know that the situation will be self-correcting to a certain extent, I have concerns about the level of service that the public is receiving.  There are a vast number of agents with little to no broker supervision currently holding themselves out as a real estate professional.   Experience, knowledge and training are all extremely important criteria when deciding which agent to hire.  I don’t feel this criterion eliminates agents who are new to the business, but I do think it is important that unexperienced agents have a broker or mentor available to assist them.
     When a licensed real estate person in Missouri works with a potential customer, they are required by law to provide a document called the Missouri Broker Disclosure Form before discussing personal and financial details.  This form explains all the possible types of client relationships (known as agency) that are recognized in our state.   It also tells you which types of agency is offered by the brokerage firm where the licensee you are dealing with works.  This form will also show you the correct name of the brokerage firm, the name of the designated broker responsible for the oversight of the licensees and the location of the physical brokerage office.   If you want an agent to work on your behalf, you will need to sign a contract spelling out the terms of your relationship.  
     I’ve heard a lot of horror stories over the years from clients who had bad experiences working with agents (some new, some not so new).  Much of the time the clients feel they have no recourse other than to hire an attorney and proceed with a court case that will potentially cost more in attorney fees than they could hope to recover.
     The Missouri Real Estate Commission is the state government agency that issues and oversees real estate licensees.  You can obtain complaint forms and contact information at  You can also view disciplinary actions and check that an agent has a current real estate license with the brokerage firm and location they advertise they are doing business.
     Real Estate Licensees who are a member of the Association of Realtors adhere to a Code of Ethics.  This code requires them to follow all state and national laws as well as additional ethical criteria.  Members of the public can also file a complaint via the Association.  For information on filing a complaint in this fashion for a Realtor licensee in the lake area, you can contact the local association board office at 573-348-4288 or the Missouri Association
     My advice to you is:  Be sure you receive the Missouri Broker Disclosure Form prior to discussing any of your personal needs and information with any licensee.  Unless you choose to enter an agency relationship in which the licensee represents you, please be aware that any information that you share with the licensee may not be kept private. Just because you are working with an agent doesn’t mean they are working FOR you.  Take the time to check with the Missouri Real Estate Commission to be certain you are working with someone whose license is in good standing and that you know who their broker is and where to find them if you need help.  If you are mistreated by a licensee, consider filing a complaint.  This could help prevent another buyer or seller from experiencing the same.    
     Michael Elliott has been selling real estate at the Lake of the Ozarks since 1981.  He is one of the most respected brokers in the area.  If you would like to work with Michael in the sale or purchase of property, or have interest in a career in real estate, contact him at 573.365.SOLD or  or stop by C. Michael Elliott & Associates, 3738 Osage Beach Parkway.  View thousands of lake area listings at  You can also view each months’ article, ask questions and offer your opinion on Michael’s real estate blog,  Real Estate data obtained from the Lake of the Ozarks Multiple Listing System for the years 2018 and 2019.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

May Lake of the Ozarks Real Estate Update

Tight Inventory continues to Depress the Market and Agents   

     A tight inventory continues to depress the market.  I am working with buyers who have cash or financing in place, are reasonable in their expectations and ready to close quickly but due to the lack of inventory are unable to secure a purchase.  2019 1st quarter total number of sales of all property types are down by 10% compared to 2018.  Lakefront home sales under $1 million decreased 9%, Offshore homes decreased 13% and condo sales decreased 11%.  Average sale prices are beginning to show a slight decrease in both lakefront homes and condos, while offshore home average prices are continuing to increase.  At the same time, the number of new agents joining our local, lake area Multiple Listing System continues to accelerate.
     To use a frequently used but true phrase:  The Lake of the Ozarks is a great place to live, work and play.  It entices so many to make the move here full time (plus more who dream and plan for the same).  Many agents at the lake come from a variety of previous occupations and many embark in the real estate business as second careers.  Quite a few undertake a part time real estate career and many still work other jobs.  There are also a good number of agents who are initiating a real estate career at the start of their professional lives. 
          Our current roster in our Multiple Listing System (MLS) shows a total of 711 Realtor members.  To put this in perspective, there have been 547 sales closed in the first quarter of 2019.  I share this information not to dissuade you from embarking on a career in real estate nor to make you feel sorry for me or any of your agent friends.  Although, you might want to take a moment to give your agent a hug.  I am sharing this to inform you there is a level of service that is due to you by a real estate agent and to impress upon you how important it is to choose an agent with experience or that is backed by an experienced broker/mentor.
       Licensed sales agents are obligated by Missouri State Statutes, guided by the Missouri Real Estate Commission, to provide you with a certain level of service and to be honest and forthright.  Further, REALTORS are obligated to do more in the form of our Code of Ethics.  Both exist to protect the public.  The details are too numerous to include here but if you’d like more information, please let me know.  I promise I will share them at no obligation to you.
     While I am a proponent of a career in real estate, I am also a proponent of agents acquiring the education and knowledge necessary to truly be able to guide their clients in making the best possible decision in purchasing at the lake.  The facts required to pass the real estate exam and obtain a license exist primarily of state and national laws and basic real estate terms. 
     To gain the additional working knowledge that I consider vital to do right by a customer can be achieved by obtaining additional education AND enlisting the help of an experienced agent as a mentor or choosing a broker willing to teach and guide.  I assure you, from my own personal experience, this will make life so much better than hacking through each circumstance as it arises.  I had a great mentor/broker at the start of my career and I still appreciate the time she gave to assist me. 
    There is not a course that I am aware of that teaches the specific knowledge needed to navigate real estate transactions in our unique lake location.  Permitting for docks, seawalls, boat ramps, decks, etc. are just a drop in the lake compared to all items specific to our area that can occur during the sales process.  It’s unfortunate but not surprising that the number of agents who fail in the first year is 75% to 87% depending on the source.   
     Real estate purchases are usually the largest a person will make in their lifetime. Choosing an agent to work with is every bit as important as the decision about a property purchase.  Be sure you find one that has your best interest in mind and is capable of guiding you through the buying or selling process.
     Michael Elliott has been selling real estate at the Lake of the Ozarks since 1981.  He is one of the most respected brokers in the area.  If you would like to work with Michael in the sale or purchase of property, or have interest in a career in real estate, contact him at 573.365.SOLD or  or stop by C. Michael Elliott & Associates, 3738 Osage Beach Parkway.  View thousands of lake area listings at

Thursday, March 21, 2019

April Lake of the Ozarks Real Estate Update


     With the lake real estate market as well as the national market seeing a slowdown in the number of homes sold and price appreciation slowing; you may have concerns about what happens next.  Having lived (with a career in real estate) through the real estate and overall economy crash starting in late 2007; I understand why you might be nervous about where the market is heading.       
     Here are my thoughts as to why today’s market is not getting ready to tank and is much different than the housing bubble that burst 12 years ago.
     Since 2007, short sales and foreclosures accounted for a third of all homes purchased.  The Mortgage Banker’s Association reported in late February that the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of 2018 was just .95 percent.  This is the lowest foreclosure rate since 1996. 
     When the bubble burst in 2007, home values started to decrease.  Over a four to six-year time frame, homes lost 25-30 percent of their value.  Although homes are not appreciating at the rates they were a year ago, they are not depreciating.  Appreciation is still continuing, just at a slower pace.  I expect home prices to continue rising in 2019.
     The number of homes sold dropped dramatically beginning in 2008.  Comparing 2018 to 2019, we again have experienced a drop in lakefront home and condominium sales here at the lake.  This is not due to a lack of interest or ability on the part of buyers but rather a lack of inventory available to purchase.
     Lack of inventory is down to a couple of things.  First, homeowners not putting their property on the market.  Some homeowners are unable to sell due to the amount owed on the mortgage.  Other owners have been unwilling to sell until home values returned to at least the amount they originally paid.  Low inventory itself is another cause; owners are holding off putting their home on the market until they find another home to purchase.  Some owners are hesitant to move into a larger home and mortgage after previously going through the market crash.
     The second major cause is down to lack of new construction.  Again, this cause has several subsets.  I don’t have specific market numbers available to me, but based on my experience of the market, there are fewer spec homes and new condos being built than I’ve seen since the early 1980’s.  I am seeing an increase in both since mid-2018.  Builders have also been wary of starting a new venture after experiencing the 2007 downturn where many got caught short.  The construction industry has a major labor shortage across the country.    Building material prices have escalated making it difficult to compete with even a limited existing home market. 
     In response to the last housing bubble, lending requirements became much more stringent.  While there are still many great mortgage programs available, they are based on much tighter guidelines which will help prevent buyers from overextending themselves.  This shows up in the low foreclosure rate mentioned above.  The economy and job market are also very healthy, unlike 10 years ago, which increases loan repayment rates.  Foreclosures really take a toll on the overall real estate market and that’s not happening or likely to happen any time soon.
     These are the main factors I point to in saying that today’s slight easing in the market is nothing like what we saw occurring in 2007.  
     Michael Elliott has been selling real estate at the Lake of the Ozarks since 1981.  He is one of the most respected brokers in the area.  If you would like to work with Michael in the sale or purchase of property, or have interest in a career in real estate, contact him at 573.365.SOLD or  or stop by C. Michael Elliott & Associates, 3738 Osage Beach Parkway.  View thousands of lake area listings at  You can also view each months’ article, ask questions and offer your opinion on Michael’s real estate blog,