Monday, July 22, 2019

How Expensive Are Homes on the Lake of the Ozarks?

From Redbook Magazine Online here are the top most expensive lakes to live on in the U.S. (from lowest to highest)

Boone Lake TN 1.37M avg
Lake Martin AL - 2.95M avg
Lake Burton GA - 3.02M avg
Long Lake MN - 3.13M avg
Smith Mountain Lake VA 3.4M avg
White Rock Lake TX 4.3M avg
Lake Pend Oreille, IA 4.48M avg
Fort Loudoun Lake TN 4.7M avg
Lake Pontchartrain LA 4.7M avg
Lake George NY 5.32 M avg
Lake Champlain 5.7M
Lake Michigan 6.35 M avg
Lake Travis TX 10.86 M average
Lake Austin TX 12.9 Million Avg
Lake Washington WA 45 Million example price
#1 Lake Tahoe 75 Million example price

Anyone who has visited the Lake of the Ozarks is typically amazed at the number of homes along its vast shoreline. Visitors thoughts inevitably turn too wondering just how much it costs to buy a home here, or if it might be a good investment. For the most part, home investments on the lake are like anywhere else, but with an interesting twist on the old location-location-location rule. The primary location factor for a lake home is of course waterfront. As the decades have past since the lake was formed lake property has gone through many changes, campgrounds of the 50s and 60s soon succumbed to condominiums and homes, while larger lots with modest summer cabins became full sized second homes in the 80s and 90s. Shawnee Bend, once mostly pristine forested shoreline became an opportunity to build entire communities once the new bridge made access more reasonable from the east side. Because of these often slow but sometimes rapid changes it's not unusual to see homes approaching the seven figure mark adjacent to a home half the price. With some area exceptions such as Shawnee Bend shoreline homes are usually a mix of homes ranging from summer cabins to multi-family "McMansions". When it comes to lake homes, the waterfront is every bit as much of a factor to price as the home itself, but waterfront is not a price factor unique to Lake of the Ozarks.

Are lakefront homes on the Lake of the Ozarks "expensive" relative to other lakes in the U.S.? The story mentioned at the start of this post was picked up by Redbook magazine and MSN, but I was a little dismayed to not see the Lake of the Ozarks on the list. I know many lakes across the country, and there is no question that the Lake of the Ozarks is the most developed I know of, so how could it not make the list? We all marvel at many of the homes on the lake and the clear opulence they demonstrate, so the report would seem to indicate there are lakes that command even higher prices? After some quick digging I discovered the source of the article's information and downloaded the entire report. Turns out, "most expensive" is literally what was meant by the news articles, but that is not the whole story and the report from which the list was created is far more interesting in detail..

But first, back to that list of the most expensive lakes in the U.S.. If we define most expensive as being average price, the Lake of the Ozarks doesn't make the cut. Sure, we have multi-million dollar homes but only about 1% of Lake of the Ozarks homes are valued at $2 million or more. This is in comparison to the most expensive lake, Butler Lake in Florida, with 50% of its homes priced at +$2Million. But again, that doesn't tell the whole story since this list does not factor the number of homes on any given lake. Consider that if there is a small lake with a few multi-million dollar homes then it can likely boast at being THE most expensive lake to live on. What is the real question we should be asking? Real estate is very much a supply and demand industry and any lake with only a few homes to sell is quite a different market than one with many thousands. As an investment, in order to understand the value of a home we must take a look at the lake's total market value, the combined total of all the homes and property on a lake.

Let's go back to our most expensive lake for example. The total market value for Butler Lake, is about $160 million dollars, and this includes available land. So how does that compare to Lake of the Ozarks? The total market value for the Lake of the Ozarks is $392 million dollars, well over twice Butler Lakes total value. Unsurprisingly the Lake of the Ozarks is the largest lake market in the state of Missouri, followed by Table Rock Lake with a respectable market value of $252 million dollars. The lake with the largest total market value in the U.S. is Lake Michigan at $1.3 BILLION dollars. Surprised? Don't be. Remember we are talking about lakes, not beachfront property on the ocean and lake Michigan is a HUGE lake hosting many major metropolitan cities. In respect to these numbers the Lake of the Ozarks ranks as the 8th largest market for lake homes in the U.S, but 5th largest if we are just talking about the home market (no property).

So let's take a look at the numbers for lakes within the state of Missouri itself. When we ask the question all over again as to which lake is the most expensive, the Lake of the Ozarks comes in second with an average home price of $363K compared to Lake Springfield's average of $475K. Again though, the number of homes is a factor as the Lake of the Ozarks dominates as the largest home and property market of all the lakes in Missouri, with Lake Springfield not even making the top 5 in total market value despite it's "most expensive" status.

Here's a breakdown of the housing market for the three largest lake home markets in the state.

The Lake of the Ozarks cannot boast being the most expensive lake in the U.S. but that is a good thing in my opinion from a real estate investment point of view. Our lake can boast a healthy variety of homes and prices to make for a vibrant market and cater to just about anyone's price range. Like any real estate purchase a persons specific needs are what is important and whether it be a condominium, summer cabin, second home, or retirement McMansion, buyers can find just about anything they need.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Camden Count GIS Resource Updated

For those who may not be aware, Camden County has an excellent resource for lake area homeowners. It is a GIS map of the entire county with all kinds of informational layers (property lines, owner names, school districts, etc.). A must for folks buying a home on the lake to find out exactly what the property is all about.

You can also get there through the Camden County website with a little digging.

The map has just been updated for 2019, but you can still look at maps from 2016 and 2010.

Very cool.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

June 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

It appears that for the lake area the drama of the flooding of 2019 may be coming to an end. Although going into the 4th of July holiday the amount of debris in the water is horrendous! While Truman Lake remains well above normal in both level and flow rates things seem to be tapering off. Flow from both dams remain above maximum turbine flow (meaning flood gates/spillways are open) but that may be coming to an end soon.

Obviously, with flow rates high the entire month, the total amount of flow through Bagnell Dam is far above normal, nearly 850 BILLION gallons for the month of June alone. In fact, in only six months Bagnell Dam has already passed 2.72 TRILLION gallons of water into the Osage River, far exceeding last year's total flow of 1.46 TRILLION gallons. That's enough water to cover an area the size of the entire state in 2.25 inches of water, and that's just so far this year. The operational numbers are quite impressive as well. Normally flow through the dam is under generating capacity about 3 out of 4 hours on average. This year is on target for less then 2 out of 3 (75.8% versus 59.05%). Which means Ameren has had flow enough to generate power over 40% of the time. Bagnell is making money this year and helping to pay off all that work that was done.

So here are the graphs. First the candlestick version for the month of June. Notice that despite the heavy flow, lake levels were pretty steady and normal, just slightly above the 5 year average (shown in orange on the second graph).

Next the full hourly detail.

And finally the summary candlestick for the year so far. It's pretty rare the total flow bar is above the lake level candlestick element.

Monday, June 03, 2019

May 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

As I mentioned in my last post, there really is nothing special about May's data. An remarkably brief opening of the flood gates at Bagnell Dam hardly shows up as anything one would notice unless you knew where to look.

I do have to point out a rather impressive display of control here for reaching a target level of 659-660 just before Memorial weekend. The lake was brought up from a monthly low of 655.63 to 659 in one week without any "overshoot" despite flow rates at maximum generating capacity (represented by a daily total flow of about 25 billion gallons) AND in coordination with Truman Dam. Although it looks like from the graph that someone realized at the last minute that the lake was about four feet shy of normal pool level for the holiday weekend and played catch up. Tip of the hat to Ameren management on that one. 

Now that we're heading out of the spring draw down and back to summer levels I figure it's a good time to put out the monthly summary chart so far for the year as well.

Again, a fairly unremarkable chart, one that fits well into the curve guide.

And finally for those that just want to see the details for hourly levels and flow.

That little spike on the 21 above 40,000cfs represents the brief opening of the flood gates.

Friday, May 31, 2019

2019 Flooding

I'll be posting my monthly graph of lake levels and flow rates for the Lake of the Ozarks tomorrow, or Monday, but as you will see despite the high water levels in other lakes and rivers, the Lake of the Ozarks is operating at normal levels. How can this be you may ask?

What's so special about the Lake that it is spared the ravages of flooding while the Osage and Missouri Rivers flood and Truman Lake is busting at the seams?

With the 30 day outlook calling for a wetter than normal June, things may not improve much.

The answer as to why the Lake of the Ozarks seems out of step with other bodies of water in the area is not a simple one, but it is important. It has everything to do with the very different purposes for which the two dams, Truman and Bagnell were built, who controls them, and the river basins they serve. I've spent a little time explaining it here if you're interested.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

April 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

A very unremarkable April chart for a change. Usually spring rains bring dramatic changes in lake levels during April but it waited until the last minute this year when it went out with a bang. The lake rose over 1 foot in 24 hours on April 30 due to stormy weather. A surprisingly steady flow over 15,000cfs throughout the month.

And the detailed chart below.

Nikola Wav - The First Electric Wetbike

It would seem the time is here. It was inevitable that someone would try to design, produce, and sell an all electric wet-bike and the electric vehicle company Nikola has done it. At lest to the point where you can get on a waiting list (for free no less!)

Nikola (as in Nikola Tesla, but not as in Tesla vehicles) has been making ATV style electric vehicles for some time with promise that a water sport vehicle was coming. Well, it's here. There are a lot of questions I have as an armchair boat designer and engineer, not the least of which is how do make an all electric power plant safe in the water, but for now, let's see what Nikola is saying about their new toy.

Not much. But on my concerns about safety, Nikola seems to be touting the IP68 standard of waterproofing. This waterproofing standard is not really made for things like wetbikes, but more for small devices like mobile phones and requires a device be able to handle being fully immersed in up to 1.5m (a smidgen under 5 feet) of water. So the Wav is rated about the same as your Galaxy S10 for operation under water. Of course, that's just fine for the occasional roll-over and usage and I'm guessing that Nikola is banking on their design never sinking below the waterline.

Another point feature is "Instant Torque". That's an interesting angle. Instant torque is a feature of all electric motors. In actuality all electric motors exhibit maximum torque at zero velocity (which is why train locomotives tend to use electric motors powered by generators driven by diesel engines). So I suppose it's reasonable to equate that to "instant". But what does that mean for the performance of the wetbike? Answer: That depends. There's nothing inherently performance enhancing about having maximum available torque at the prop (or impeller in this case). It's can be an advantage, but many other factors would need to be examined in the design of the propulsion to determine any specific performance boost. But that's a completely different discussion.

The Wav apparently goes full digital for display with a twelve inch 4K dashboard but from the image below it looks like you could watch a movie or something.

And then there's my favorite, the front LED headlamp (not a bad idea), and the rear taillights. Taillights? Do they work like brake lights or somethings?

There are no other details regarding performance, run time, charge time or pricing at this time.

But you say hey! Why so snarky? I mean these guys are doing it aren't they? Sure, but I think you're going to have to bring a lot more to the table then just an electric power plant, better storage and a curious hull, to get people to buy these things. Take a lesson from Tesla, Nikola. Early adopters want a compelling reason to go electric. Elon Musk gave them super-cruise and auto-pilot with brain melting performance. What does the Wav provide but novelty and dubious performance enhancements? I wish them luck though, I really do, but the consumer is king on this battlefield.