Between January 1, 2005 and October 4, 2005, eighty-two homes and condominiums changed hands at Geneva National. 2005 was more than likely the market peak as it relates specifically to Geneva National. At that time, condominium units were selling like crazy, and select builders had just started building spec homes in the $700k to $900k price range, and when they started getting those prices, other builders and investors took notice. One of those who noticed was me. I saw a few spec homes selling in this upper range for the first time in a long time in GN, and it seemed to be that there was an opportunity in GN that not many other people noticed. I began my Geneva National foray a bit before most of the hoard arrived, and fortunately I was able to see what needed to be built in order to fetch the higher prices. Many builders did not. Lured in by the promises of a modern day gold rush, builders slapped up spec homes left and right, sometimes the same builder would construct two or three at the same time. They built quickly and without polish, and ultimately, their less than custom work did them in. Much of that inventory that was constructed in 2007 and 2008 still lingers on the market, doomed to die a slow death as price cut after price cut promise losses for an investment that once looked like a lock.
I’ve written about this before; my obvious theory that the spec home builders killed Geneva National. But it wasn’t just the single family spec home builders that built out of their league and helped fire round after round of pneumatic nails into the lifeless corpse that Geneva National has become. The condominium builders did it too, and I’d argue that their own mismanagement of forecasts and failure to see a changing market before it was far too late has done more damage than the spec home builders ever did. Consider large swaths of individual enclaves within Geneva National and their struggles in this current market. Foxwood came to the party too late, and made their way through the door just as everyone else was making their way out. Cobblestone Courts has proven to be a miserable idea, as has much of the new expansions of some existing enclaves. There are hundreds of new units waiting to be built, in spite of a buyer pool that is largely insufficient to even absorb the existing inventory.
These hit and miss development ideas, parlayed by some of the best known developers in the area, have been poison for the overall development. The debacle that was The Private Quarters Club- a high end timeshare- has been reborn as another version of a time share, only this time they call it fractional ownership because timeshare just sounds comical to anyone with three functioning brain cells. The current time share offerings won’t warrant discussion here, as they offend my real estate sensibilities and I respect your own intelligence far too much to pitch you the facts on an idea that will ultimately fail. Of course this is my humble opinion, but just watch, timeshares at GN, whether they’re called timeshares or fractionals, will not work. Not only will they not work, but it’ll become another huge embarrassing failure for Geneva National and those behind the original idea. The condominiums that were built on the far north end of the development to accommodate this after birth of an idea should simply be slashed in price and marketed as traditional condominiums. The units are nice, it’s the ownership arrangements that spell disaster.
And with all that negativity that many people claim I exude without effort, I’ll now tell you that I’m considering buying a vacant lot in Geneva National. I’ve threatened to do this before, and chances are I’ll follow my own advice and try to beat up some unsuspecting seller in early December. In spite of all the failures within Geneva National, it will ultimately rebound. The area is too nice, the residential design too flawless, the proximity to the lake and downtown Lake Geneva too convenient for it to ever fail to attract buyers over the long term. I believe in Geneva National, I just don’t believe in several of the individual communities within the broader development.
Year to date sales in GN number only twenty, with an additional four units pending sale at the moment. As of this morning, the MLS shows 131 available condominiums and homes. If I’m buying a condominium in GN, I like the Lakelands (blue), the Highlands (red roof), and other existing, established enclaves of condominiums. I’d avoid the unfinished developments, like those listed above, like black death. I like much of the housing stock right now, and with single family homes available from the unheard of price $299k, there are plenty of opportunities for any size budget. Vacant land has been stable, but without much liquidity there’s hope for a bargain or two, particularly in December. I’ll be watching the vacant land for personal reasons, as I begin the necessary steps to usher in my triumphant return to the best darn golf course development within 200 miles (and probably beyond).