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ANALYSIS

Hot Real Estate Market Draws Realtors In Record Numbers To Lake Of The Ozarks

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Waterfront Homes At Lake Of The Ozarks

It’s common knowledge that Lake of the Ozarks' real estate market has exploded in the last few years, with sky-high demand and low inventory. The spike has flooded the Lake with new real estate agents.

But not all agents are not created equal.

According to the Bagnell Dam Association of Realtors — one of the two boards of realtors in the Lake of the Ozarks area — their membership has jumped from 451 MLS (Multiple Listing Service, a database established by realtors to provide data about properties for sale) members in 2020 to 611 members in January. The Lake of the Ozarks Board of Realtors has seen a similar spike in membership, going from 253 members last year to 352 members this year. 

This brings the total new realtors that can practice at the Lake to a whopping 259, an average 37% increase across both organizations. 

Interestingly, the increase in realtors matches the spike in average selling prices for homes across the Lake. Lake of the Ozarks Board of Realtors saw a 36% spike in average home prices and Bagnell Dam Association of Realtors saw a 39% increase from 2020 to 2021. This jump does not come as a big surprise given the Lake's record-breaking year in 2020, when real estate sales topped $1 billion. For a variety of reasons, the last few years put Lake of the Ozarks on the map for many who had never heard of it.  

“I think everyone knows that we made national news, so everyone in the country knows that our market is on fire, and everyone wants to come down here and sell. We’ve seen a huge influx of new agents,” said local realtor Nichol O’Sullivan of the O’Sullivan Bruce Group

Real estate at the Lake is hot, and that brings new realtors — at least on paper. The board of realtors' data indicate a lion's share of new members to these two Lake area boards are from outside of the Lake area. Out-of-town realtors account for 84 of the Bagnell Dam Association’s 160 new members, and 109 of Lake of the Ozark Boards new members are MLS-only members, which tends to indicate these new members are operating outside of the Lake area. 

This rush of satellite realtors does not necessarily mean they’re here to resettle their business at the Lake. With increased interest in Lake of the Ozarks nationally, some long-time real estate experts at the Lake speculate that these new realtors have joined the local MLS system to sell Lake of the Ozarks real estate to their clients in other cities that are now interested in living here. 

Buyers and sellers should be aware: despite the relationship they may have with an agent in their home city, buying and selling at Lake of the Ozarks is a different game. 

“Most agents are from cities, Kansas City and St. Louis mostly, but the Lake is very unique. There’s Ameren, there’s dock permits and elevation levels and a lot of the out-of-town agents aren’t familiar with Ameren rules and regulations and what kind of permits they need. Just when you come to a market you’re not familiar with, sometimes you’re not the most knowledgeable,” O’Sullivan said. 

So you want to buy at Lake of the Ozarks? What mile marker? What city? Property owner's association, or city, or rural? Planning and zoning, or no? What's your boat size -- will this cove be deep enough? Main channel, or a cove? What's the wastewater situation: city water/sewer, HOA, individual septic & well? What part of the Lake suits your lifestyle, kids' school needs, and boating preferences? Local real estate agents know to ask these kinds of questions and dozens more; non-local ones often do not. But questions like these can be the difference between buying your dream home and accidentally landing with a nightmare.

LakeExpo spoke with local real estate agents about what horror stories they had seen from inexperienced agents selling at the Lake; unfortunately there are many. There's the agent who didn’t know they needed to get the septic inspected in the house their client was buying, and when the old septic broke down, it cost the client $40,000 to repair. Then there's the realtor who didn’t know about dock permit requirements: when Ameren denied a dock permit to the new owners for lack of space, the client was left with a lakefront house, but no place for a boat. 

Two good questions buyers can ask, when shopping for an agent:

1) How long have you been selling real estate at the Lake?

and

2) Where is your primary office located?

“We’re down here all the time, we know the market, we know where it was, we know where it’s been, we know where it’s going,” O’ Sullivan said. “It’s just different. The Lake is a different world. And until you live it and know it, there’s so many things that people don’t understand that you need to know before selling down here.”

What's Ahead?

Both Lake area boards of realtors agree that this large buyer pool has created inventory issues. The real competition for realtors, new and old, is to get listings and put a property in front of their buyers before it's under contract. 

They acknowledge the potential for a market slowdown if/when interest rates go up, but even this is a small speculative concern for the Lake area realtors who spoke to LakeExpo for this story.

“In our area, so many transactions are cash, and interest rates have never had a big impact on the Lake area,” said Dave Payne, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Board of Realtors.

With those factors in place, local real estate experts expect the market to stay strong, with prices firm or appreciating for the next several years.


 

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