In recent years, we’ve bought several homes and developed building lots at the Lake of the Ozarks and have established a pretty popular destination for a number of repeat guests as well as a host of new ones. The pandemic initiated swift response, and brought cancellations last spring where we were refunding thousands of dollars each week. Then it changed.
Despite the warnings a year ago to isolate and stay at home, the lake region literally exploded in popularity on several fronts. Most particularly with housing. The national news showed partying at lakeside bars, and I suppose some of that was happening. Our dramatic increase in reservations was with guests who wanted to escape to a safe and comfortable bubble and distance themselves from the urban unrest that tore the cities of KC and especially
St. Louis apart. Our business more than doubled what we enjoyed in 2019.
I’m told that the public school district in Camden County, and especially in the Camdenton School District, had an increase in enrollment of 24 percent in less than one year. Consider that statistic for a moment and you’ll have a feel for the cause and effect of COVID-19 (should we now call it 2020 and 2021?) and the lake region. The Lake of the Ozarks has been the fastest-growing region in the state of Missouri for the better part of the past two decades.
Conditions now are such that if a home goes onto the market for sale and it isn’t put under contract within a week to 10 days, it’s is either overpriced, crap or both. Values have dramatically increased, and while we don’t see prices comparable to the coasts, property values due to this demand have increased conservatively by 50 percent on average over the past 14 months. The same for boats and toys of all types.
So Now We Step Up The Game
We’ve been eyeing an eight-acre waterfront property close to our other homes for several years, and the property offers good potential. Two homes are on the property, including a decent five-bedroom home on the water.
Here’s where the adventure begins.
To bring this property up to our standards, we need a new roof and we plan to replace at least a dozen windows, assuming we opt to keep the others. We’ve ordered new exterior doors as well as siding. Inside, all the flooring is being removed and replaced as well as drywall work and repairs, new paint, cabinets, countertops, plumbing, electrical fixtures appliances and, naturally, furnishings. Add the removal of trees around the home and rebuilding the decks with timber frame structure and an awesome patio with resort amenities. All this before we get into clearing much of the acreage and re-paving and all that accompanies the likelihood of developing the property for several other new homes.
Material Delays and Costs
That project has been a real-world taste of the firehose that the construction sector has been drinking out of with supply-chain challenges. You name the material, it’s either in short supply unable to fill a complete order, or it’s double—in some cases, triple—the cost from when this initiative took form a year ago. And that’s if it’s available at all—and it’s often not in stock, and could be weeks or
in some cases months, if we’re lucky, away from receiving products.
The scary part about that, not just for us as early-stage developers, but for construction as a sector nationwide, is that some experts are predicting that the challenges with the global supply chain are going to be with us for a while.
Bigger issues linger with demand for more housing in China and India, where tens of millions of people are moving into growing middle classes. That is straining supplies that Americans might have once taken for granted.
Somewhere out there, some savvy entrepreneurs are taking notes. Let’s hope they’ll quickly embrace that typically American sense of innovation in a time of need, and find a way to close the gap on production of these critically important raw materials and commodities we perhaps once took a bit for granted.
Carpe lumber, America.