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Norton: Lake property values to rise
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Property values around Lake Lanier are expected to increase exponentially, as metro Atlanta creeps further northward.

“Welcome to ground zero,” Frank Norton Jr. said. “You don’t realize it; or maybe you do. Maybe you do on that Sunday afternoon at Sunset Cove, or trying to sailboat from one end to the other. But you are at ground zero.”

The Norton Agency president, speaking Sunday at the annual membership meeting of the Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association, predicted a boom in both population and lakefront property values.

According to Norton, metro Atlanta is expected to grow to 12.5 million people by 2050. Right now the population is around 6 million.

“So in that very short period of time, we will be in the center of metro Atlanta,” Norton said. “And in no other city in the United States resides a 40,000-acre body of water in its heart.”

Before that point, he predicts the average house price on the lake will be $1 million by 2035, coining it a “Millionaire Row, from cabin to mansion, all the way around our shoreline.”

Right now, average sales prices are slightly under $500,000; Norton expects an average appreciation of up to 7 percent over the next seven years.

He also addressed at Sunday’s meeting the reassessments of lakefront property by the Hall County Tax Assessors Office.

“Taxes are going to go up,” Norton said frankly. “Mark my words, if it’s successful, this will happen in Forsyth. This will happen in Dawson. This will happen in that small portion of properties of Gwinnett County. So Hall County will not be the only one.”

The assessors office, which plans to mail out notices in May, conducted an in-depth study of lakefront property values and how they align with property sales. Norton used the example of one piece of property valued at around $80,000, which sold for $465,000.

He anticipates the unintended consequence of “a flood” of lakefront property in Hall County going up for sale, as people choose to buy lakefront properties in counties with lower tax rates.

“You’re going to see as taxes go up, taxes become a major consideration for the sale of lake property going forward,” Norton said.

The permit threshold for boat dock permits on Lake Lanier is set at 10,615 — the “magic number,” Norton said.

“That’s it,” he said. “But we’re not there yet. ...It is our estimation that number won’t be reached for some time. Still, in our view, when that number is reached and there are no more, prices for Lake Lanier properties will start to appreciate 10 percent per year.

“Haves, and have-nots, and never-can-gets. So when we see that ceiling hit, you’re going to see the people with private boat docks especially start to get higher and higher values.”