Geneva Lakefront Market Update

Geneva Lakefront Market Update

To be a doctor would be to know what the patient does not, even after a mostly full disclosure of the patient’s prognosis has been given. The doctor will tell you what afflicts you, and then he will tell you what must be done to combat this insidious or casual combatant. And then, once you leave for home to rest or to grieve or to do both, the doctor will sit in his office and he will contemplate what he told you, and what he didn’t. You do need the treatment he prescribed, he knows this and now you know it. But he also knows that the treatment is only so-so and the odds of it working effectively are only slightly weighted in your favor when viewed against the sugar pill placebo given in that one trial at that one teaching hospital. He knows this because he is on the inside and you are on the outside.

This is much like the Lake Geneva vacation home market. In this real estate market of privilege there is activity that I see from here that you cannot see. This activity can, at times, be focused tightly on just one segment of this varied market. At others times, like in the early 2000s, this activity was so widespread that I could see it just as plainly as you could see it. My insider’s position meant little then. But today, when speculation as to the future direction of the markets is rampant, and buyers of different ilks simultaneously bull rush the market and slink back to fondle their gold, this view from the inside is more important than ever. My view from this desk is as clear as it has ever been, and this knowledge is so much more important than you might know.

Of course, this insight into the market means little to you if you’re not a Lake Geneva real estate buyer or owner or watcher, but then I’m safe in assuming that if you were none of those things you wouldn’t be reading along. The lakefront market today on Geneva is robust. It is moving fluidly and with purpose, and while there have been many sales over the past six weeks there will be many more in the six soon to come. The large lakefront at 1028 South Lakeshore Drive in Fontana closed last week for $2.75MM. This was a nice price for a majestic parcel. The only fault I can find with that sale is that I was not involved in it. I will set about to remedy this annoying absence. At $17,295 per front foot, this sale was pleasing no matter how you look at it. It also proves that prices can remain soft even in the face of rising volume. Expect that trend to continue this year, but also know that every sale on Geneva removes one purchase opportunity from an already small assortment.

A similarly large parcel on the East bank of the city of Lake Geneva with an asking price of $3.1MM has gone under contract. This parcel is large and pleasing, and aside from my own personal irritating absence from this sale there is one other thing I don’t care for here- the tax bill. It is a forgone conclusion that owners spending $3MM on property will pay a significant property tax bill. This is true in Lake Geneva as it is in Hinsdale as it is in Durango, but in the Lake Geneva market there are massive tax differences between the four lakefront municipalities. Without going into detail, the best way to assure yourself an eye popping tax bill is to buy lakefront in the city of Lake Geneva. If you’re tax conscious, as most of us appear to be, you’d be best served to buy your lakefront estate in any lakefront municipality except the city of Lake Geneva. Even with the egregious tax bill, the property is under contract and it is a fine parcel.

The lakefront activity has leaked over into the South Shore Club, as I always believed it should and someday new it would. The cheap lot on Forest Hill has an offer and is either under contract now or will be very soon. There are buyers nibbling at several of the offerings there, and one home is now pending after a private sale last month. There is activity in the SSC, and I’m making a bet today that by the time 2012 is up we’ll see three home sales and three lot sales in this new, price friendly version of this high class lakefront association.

This is the activity that I can see at the moment, but the real scoop is what I see happening over the next several months and what I feel the buyer sentiment is today. Lakefront deals are being struck, and there is value in the market that continues to be overlooked. The entry level of Geneva has some incredible offerings today, and several of those offerings appear ready to be dealt by bored sellers. There are other deals present too, and in spite of what some other agents may say there will likely be a significant uptick in sales volume this year without so much as a whisper of price movement. There are deals out there, and you must remember not to rely purely on a seller’s asking price in order to discover those deals.

There is motivation in the market today. There are buyers seeking out retreats on their own time table, but that time table appears to have at least something to do with that ticking clock over in that right hand corner. 101 days left. But what of those 101 days? Are they really that important? Is a lakefront vacation home really so serious that it must be done on that schedule? Of course not, but I don’t really mean that. The summer of 2012 will be a lot of things to many different people. To new vacation home owners it will be a time to explore a new way of living. To me it’ll be a new chance to explore what I already think I know. To others, it’ll be a chance to explore the inside of their living room or the outside of their little teeny city back yard. This summer is going to mean something to all of us, it’s just a matter of opinion which option sounds the best. I choose the option with the big friendly lake.

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4 Comments

  • Ms. G. February 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Just wrote to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. You are a wonderful writer!

  • David Curry Author February 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Thanks Ms. G. Someday I promise to try a little harder and make these posts resemble something coherent. I promise. Tell your friends. Thanks, David

  • Searching Investor February 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

    That lot on Forest Hill must be lot 8.
    Thats Mr. Gimbels old lot. Poor guy paid a million for that in early 2000s.

    He’s likely letting it go for 500 grand.

    Lots of luck to those SSC investors.

  • David Curry Author February 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

    The lot I referenced is lot 4, not lot 8. Lot 4 was last listed in the $400k range. Thanks for reading, David

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