The twenty-first day of May was a long time ago. I wasn’t as tired then as I am now, which isn’t to suggest that I’m somehow extra tired now but it is meant to suggest that I wasn’t quite as tired then. We hadn’t yet endured the drought of 2012, and fields with corn and soybeans greedily sucking up May rain weren’t anything that anyone, besides farmers and traders, payed much attention to. The lake was still cold then, but not too cold, and I spent more days fishing around May 21st than I have around August 9th, but that’s really no one’s fault but my own. Of all the things that have happened in the time from that day in May until this day in August, a sale in Abbey Springs isn’t one of them.
While the broader Lake Geneva vacation home market has hummed right through a summer of inspiring volume and mending valuations, Abbey Springs has instead taken its turn in the corner of the room, with its chair turned towards the walls, forced to contemplate what, exactly, it did wrong. You know that I find the phenomenon that featured Abbey Springs sitting out the horrible decline of 2008 and 2009 to be very unique and interesting, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that in the same way I find Abbey Springs taking a hit in an otherwise mending market to be curious as well. Abbey Springs, long the stalwart of our vacation home market, has stumbled upon some hard times.
Abbey Springs has not yet started burning its own furniture to stay warm, and I doubt that it has resorted to stealing from local grocery stores, so it should be mentioned now that the definition of “hard times” is highly relative. But when the market surrounding you- the market that caters to the same clientele- finds footing and gains traction and you’re stuck where you were several months ago, that can’t be considered to be a good thing. There is one unit pending sale in Abbey Springs, per the MLS today, so it’s not entirely fair of me to suggest that there hasn’t been any activity in Abbey Springs. But it is fair to suggest there hasn’t been much.
The inventory at Abbey Springs looks much like it always does. Thirty-some units available, ranging in price from a little ($149k) to a whole lot ($1.95MM), some good, some bad, some overpriced, some reasonable. Abbey Springs rarely races to cut prices in the event that a few months pass without a sale. The market there seems calmer than most other individual segments around the lake, perhaps owed to the strong ownership in that sprawling association. When other markets see their volume dry up, they generally react with price reductions and loud shouting. Abbey Springs looks intent to react with a yawn, as if they know this too shall pass.
The fall market might be kind to Abbey Springs. That fall market, by the way, starts pretty much right now. I am not going to hurry us into fall, but from a real estate mind we are already entering into a fall market. We’ll see a brief lull in activity (probably) over the next three weeks, as families reposition themselves for another school year. And then, once school has started and September blesses us with 80 degree highs and 58 degree lows, we’ll see activity again. Why is this? Because plenty of buyers who don’t yet know they’re buyers will wake up on a September morning and realize that they’re summer is over before they ever had a chance to enjoy it. The pursuit of summer redemption drives fall buyers, and perhaps this fall the Abbey Springs market will find some momentum.
There have been 9 sales YTD in Abbey Springs. Compared to 11 sales by now in 2011, and 12 sales YTD for both 2010 and 2009. This might not seem like a big difference, but it is. Abbey Springs had a strong first quarter this year, and without that initial boost the YTD figures would be dangerously anemic. Even so, buyers should view this temporary slow down at Abbey Springs not as some fundamental shift in the market, but rather as a buying opportunity. It’s difficult to negotiate with a seller when everything is rosy. But with the right agent and a slow down that has lasted the entire summer? Feelings will be hurt, but value will be ours.