Posts

Written by Riezl Baker, Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group

 

To say that 2020 has been an unprecedented year is an understatement. The pandemic has impacted every industry including real estate in our area where a surge of activity resulted in a record-breaking year with over $892 million in sales volume (per Lake Country Board MLS data)

The key trends we saw this past year were:

 

  1. The rise of remote working that fueled a migration from urban areas into our community.
  2. Bigger is better. Families who were stuck in closed quarters upgraded to larger homes with more room to roam.

  1. Vacation homes have become primary residences providing the ultimate “staycation.” Pools, outdoor kitchen and amenities became hot trends as the pandemic drove the emphasis to spending quality time together.
  2. From cabinets to cubicles. Home offices and virtual learning spaces for children have become priorities.
  3. COVID fueled the rise of multi-generational living and family compounds.

 

According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, US home prices “are in no danger of declining” in the new year as buyers compete for inventory.

“More companies will allow their employees to work from home and the demand for larger homes will continue,” added Yun. He predicts prices to rise 3% this year following a 6% gain last year.

Here at Lake Oconee, we continue to see sales activity even during these historically slow winter months, with buyers having more time and freedom to continue their search.

There is no crystal ball to tell the future as we learned last year, but if the economic predictions are accurate, how will the market affect buyers and sellers? First, fewer listings and record-low inventory will continue to create a huge advantage for sellers. If you have thought about selling your home or property, now is the time. For a buyer, you must decide fast should you find your dream home or you could find yourself in a bidding war. It is also a good idea to get your financing in order while interest rates remain low.

As real estate continues to evolve, it is important to strategize and work with a realtor who has her finger on the pulse of the market. Knowledge of the inventory and a keen understanding of comparables are invaluable when making big decisions this year. Predictions are pointing to a strong spring selling season as the market remains competitive.  If you are selling or buying, I will be glad to sit down (or zoom) to chat.

Written by Riezl Baker

I learned about empathy and compassion at home and at school at a young age. As far back as I can remember, we had class field trips to orphanages where we spent time and cared for children, or fed the hungry on the streets. One facility that we frequented was Elsie Gaches Village. Located about three miles from our school in Manila, the facility is home to 600 special needs children and adults, many of whom were abandoned as infants because of abject poverty. Here, they are provided a nurturing environment and are taught to co-exist with other members of the society through educational programs and services. Residents and patients’ cases range from autism to mental retardation, visual and hearing impairment to severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

 

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to take my kids back to the Philippines where we hosted a day event for the special needs orphans. My daughter Remi raised money that summer by selling baked goods. Seeing the happiness in the childrens’ eyes, and feeling their overwhelming gratitude was an emotional experience. Many of them cannot speak, but they waved and smiled to get our attention and be acknowledged which really tugged our hearts and lifted our spirits. Some grabbed our hands and placed them on their cheeks to show their appreciation. We invited the country’s most popular mascot to entertain  together with Stu and Remi, who rendered a few songs much to the delight of these incredibly special people. St. Francis of Assisi said that “it is in giving that we receive”, and indeed, we received bountiful gifts that day. We thought we were there to provide three hours of happiness, but instead, we received a humbling experience as we witnessed all the hope, gratitude and joy in these children’s hearts that would forever change us.

 

This year thanksgiving will be celebrated with the pandemic in mind, but as difficult as it may be for many of us, this could be the time to get re-acquainted with the often forgotten virtue of gratitude.  I am reminded to be thankful by an amazing woman I had the pleasure of knowing through her parents’ eyes, whose message resonated with me especially this holiday season..

“Be grateful for what you have, for it is so much more than many.”

Written by Riezl Baker, Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group

Published on October 1, 2020

The pandemic has set the Lake Oconee real estate market on fire. Activity at the lake continues to soar with no signs of slowing down. Luxury real estate boomed as a result of the migration of many who have had the opportunity to work efficiently from home, prompting them to reassess their priorities. Many have moved out of the city, where they have spent months in closed quarters, into our area where they can have so much more space, house and land. As a realtor for over 20 years, I share with you the real estate trends I am currently seeing:

 

“Big is Back”

In the midst of the pandemic, families who were stuck in closed quarters

re-evaluated their living spaces and upgraded to bigger homes with multiple offices, large kitchen, home gym and more ‘room to roam.” Lake Oconee has been a place of refuge for urbanites who spent their quarantines in their second homes. Many of them have not returned to the cities after the shelter-in-place, and are buying larger homes where everyone in the family can get comfortable together indoors and outdoors.

 

“Home Offices are In”

Before the pandemic, buyers loved media rooms where families can gather to watch movies and sports. This changed with the rise of remote working and children’s virtual learning. Nowadays, the priority is to find a home that offers quiet and dedicated spaces for parents and children to work. Google search trends for “home office”, “home gym”, “home amenities” have remained high since the start of the pandemic.

“Pool is Cool”

Customized and trendy pools are “in”providing the ultimate staycation for many families who cannot travel like they used to. Pools with built-in bars, spas and other amenities are hot trends and spending quality time becomes another important priority.

 

“In Search of Greener Pastures and… Acreage”

The desire to own a refuge away from the densely populated city has become apparent with more families wanting bigger lots to have room for outdoor spaces, amenities and bigger backyards. COVID fueled the desire for more land to build a family compound.

Multi-generational living is on the rise with grandparents moving in with their adult kids and grandchildren.

 

As the pandemic continues to shape the real estate industry, be strategic about your short and long term goals. If you are considering selling or buying, work with a realtor you can trust. An experienced realtor who has a finger on the pulse of the market and who is out in the trenches daily becomes invaluable when you are making a big decision under the current circumstances. If you are considering buying or selling, contact us at Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate. We are a group of full-time real estate professionals with proven records of success, offering a combined experience of over 40 years in Lake Oconee real estate.

www.luxurylakeoconee.com

(706) 453-9243

Written by Lindsey Moore

Ted and Riezl Baker were recently honored as “Experts in Second Homes and Vacation Properties” and “Most Philanthropic Agents” during an event held at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC) hosted by Bentley, Interiors Atlanta Magazine and Modern Luxury Group. There were over 300 realtors nominated in different categories and winners were selected by an internal board and committee based on their qualifications.

The couple moved to Lake Oconee in 1997 and have been a part of the many positive changes in the area. “Our family is fortunate to serve alongside great leaders of our community and we are grateful for the chance to give back when called upon,” commented Ted, Managing Broker.  The Bakers founded the Lake Oconee Food and Wine Festival in 2010 to benefit education. What started out as a small event held at a garden center has become a highly anticipated yearly event held at the Ritz-Carlton that is now enjoyed by hundreds of visitors and community members.

Riezl was part of the first foundation board that helped raise money to open the St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in 2013. She served as Chair of the Foundation Board in 2018 and 2019. She also chaired the Heart and Soul Gala for three years at the Ritz-Carlton, one of the lake’s biggest fundraising event. Riezl believes in giving back to the industry she loves and served as President of the Lake Country Board of Realtors in 2016. Currently, she is a Board Director for the Oconee Performing Arts Society (OPAS).

Ted co-chaired the successful Lake Oconee Academy’s Capital Campaign that raised money for the new high school building. He currently serves as Chairman of the Greene County Voters and Registration Board. He is currently the President-Elect for the Lake Country Board of Realtors. He furthers his community work by volunteering to help in the youth program at Christ Our King and Savior Catholic Church.

For over 20 years, Ted and Riezl have built a strong reputation and a record of success in Lake Oconee real estate. The couple formed their brokerage, Luxury Lake Oconee this past January and continue to gain an upward momentum that they attribute to a strong marketing plan with a target of reaching a broader base of customers. They also give credit to their efficient and driven team. “We all bring our A-game every single day,” stated Riezl. “We put our clients’ interests first and believe that our job goes beyond identifying or selling a house. We also solve problems along the way and strive for successful transactions and great experience for everyone involved,” Riezl added.

“We are humbled to be recognized alongside some of the best Realtors in Atlanta,” stated Ted. Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate is a full-service brokerage dedicated to providing professional service to customers engaged in residential and commercial real estate. For more information, visit www.luxurylakeoconee.com.

 

 

Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate continues its upward trajectory with no signs of stopping. When Ted and Riezl Baker launched their brokerage in January of this year, no one could have known how the pandemic would change the world. The couple was determined to push through unprecedented times by creating a strategy to stay engaged with their customers while casting a wide net to market their properties. Today, they are seeing the results of their efforts with over $36 million in sold and pending properties for the first half of the year.

“The pandemic fueled a migration into our community,” said Ted Baker, Managing Broker and President-Elect for the local board of realtors. “Our team was determined to succeed by finding ways to provide superb service to our customers even during the most challenging times,” he added.

Susan Mason, one of the group’s clients can attest to this quality of service. “From the moment we engaged with the team, we received, among other things, knowledgeable, professional, and timely service. I cannot recall one occasion when we reached out for anything; the team proactively engaged with us to ensure all of our questions were answered. This not only happened pre-sale, it happened post sale,” she shared.

Ted also attributes the company’s positive momentum to a strong marketing plan, and an efficient team. He credits Riezl for innovative marketing with a target of reaching a broader base of customers, “Riezl is one of the most driven and creative people I know,” remarked Ted.
Mark Gibson, whose house sold in the midst of the pandemic after being on the market with another brokerage for over a year, was ecstatic that Luxury Lake Oconee sold it after three weeks. “The team puts you in the passenger seat as they drive the process, they have the map and know the way to get it done! Each member of the team is hyper focused on ensuring the process is seamless to busy professional lives and schedules. The marketing and communication plan is stellar and solid, results driven. I have bought and sold real estate over two dozen times in my military career and Luxury Lake Oconee team is second to none,” said Mark.

Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group believes that technology and marketing play a pivotal role in today’s real estate environment. “As the market, technology and the needs of our clients change, it is imperative that we evolve to serve the change,” stated Ted. “But nothing can replace dedicated, personal and professional service that we provide to our clients,” he added.

Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate prides itself for going above and beyond when they list properties, and that includes actively reaching buyers through their many platforms. “We serve our listings. We are usually present at showing appointments to help sell the property. We don’t just leave a lockbox at the front door and track access through our phones,” stated Riezl.

The migration to our community will continue and so will the demand for knowledgeable, local realtors. Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group offers over 40 years of combined real estate experience and a thorough knowledge of the inventory to assist buyers and sellers with their real estate needs.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 6, 2020

Luxury Lake Oconee Welcomes New Member of Real Estate Team

Jennifer Vaughan

Luxury Lake Oconee is excited to announce the addition of our newest team member, Jennifer Vaughan. Jennifer and husband, Larry, have been residents of Reynolds Lake Oconee since 2010 with their three boys, Matthew (11), Jordan (9) and Brandon (6). Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Language Arts. Vaughan began her successful sales career in the information technology industry with software company Novell, and progressed to Motorola and Symbol Technologies. In 2006, Jennifer married Larry, and they began construction of their home at Lake Oconee.

Jennifer is actively involved in the community. The Vaughan family is a proud member of Lake Oconee Church. Larry and Jennifer are strong supporters of St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital and Lake Oconee Academy. Jennifer serves as a Board Member of the Lake Oconee Academy Foundation. Jennifer has been involved in numerous fundraiser activities for the school including the Denim& Diamonds Committee, the LOA Capital Campaign Committee and Chairperson for the Tees for Titans Golf Tournament, a role she has held since 2015.

“Riezl and I have been friends with Jennifer and Larry for over ten years. After working with Jennifer on community projects over the years, I can tell you that Jennifer is a consummate professional. She has a strong work ethic and understands the value of hard work.” stated Ted Baker, managing broker of Luxury Lake Oconee. “The advantage I had while in sales was that I spent lots of time with the engineers learning everything I could about the products prior to taking them to market,” Jennifer explains. She looks forward to applying the same principles in her role as a Realtor by learning the inventory, understanding the goals of her clients and delivering superb service.

In recent years, we have welcomed a new generation of families who gave up the urban hustle for a better quality of life. Jennifer is well poised to welcome these families to Lake Oconee. Jennifer enjoys exercise, boating and golfing at Reynolds Lake Oconee or Cuscowilla, where she and her family are members. “We are fortunate to live on the lake, a stone’s throw away from the Ritz and major amenities. I pinch myself sometimes and remind my boys to be grateful. I am looking forward to introducing the community and our wonderful lifestyle to others,” said Jennifer. Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate is a full-service brokerage with over 40 years of combined experience serving buyers and sellers in Lake Oconee real estate.

For more information, call Ted Baker (706) 347-2625.