The Lake, the Dam, and the TVA

It looks like rain after a very nice weekend. We’re supposed to have a warming trend later this week, with afternoon temperatures as high as 77°, so we may begin to see some native trees and flowers bloom. Last year, the sarvis – the first native tree to bloom – came on the 18th, and we usually expect the wildflowers to start around the 25th. We’re planning a few trips to Sosebee Cove, south of Blairsville – a rich cove forest famous for its wildflower displays – and will try to report on the results. With the mild winter, I’m expecting a nice spring display, although I also expect the insects to be more troublesome than usual this year.

I no sooner said that the lake was refilling nicely than the TVA started pulling it down again. There was apparently some movement detected in a retaining wall at the dam, and a surface crack was observed. This is no doubt due to the ongoing project to reinforce the dam. The TVA has started to pull the lake level down as a precaution, and is bringing in equipment to monitor the situation. According the the Vice President for River Operations, some movement is expected in a project of this nature, and the dam is secure. He also said that he expected that the draw down would be about five feet, and that he expected the project to be completed on time despite the complications. I noticed this morning when I came to work that they were releasing a lot of water from the dam, and I’m taking a “wait and see” attitude toward the idea that the project will be completed on time.

The real estate market continues to improve. We have about half the total number of listings in our MLS that we had five years ago, a classic sign of a recovering market. While most of the improvement has been in cabins, we are beginning to see the lot and land market stir a bit. There’s no doubt that it will take the land market longer to recover, and there’s no doubt that land prices have taken a hit. The builders haven’t been buying land to build spec houses, and end users have seemed to feel that buying a foreclosure and fixing it up is a better deal than buying a lot and building. But with the foreclosure market beginning to close down, people seem to be taking another look at the idea of buying a lot and building. (It isn’t so much that there aren’t still a lot of foreclosures out there as that the ones that are left are significantly less desirable than they have been for the past year or so.) We’re beginning to experience some inventory shortages at certain price points, and it may be time for resellers who have given up on the market to consider putting their cabin up for sale again. We’ll probably know more in another month, but the signs seem to point to this year being the year that the market finally stabilizes.

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