Now that my 2009 year in review posts have officially ended, it’s back to a steady mix of Lake Geneva topics, market updates, and political commentary (I’ll keep it relevant, which is why I won’t say a word about Scott Browns impressive victory last night. I promise. Not a word about that decisive vote. Not a peep.) Historically, the spring buying season as it relates to real estate unofficially begins the first weekend after Super Bowl Sunday. After a sleepy November, December, and January, months when only the most savvy buyers are active, we tend to see a bump in buyer activity in early February, as buyers do some simple math and come to the realization that Memorial Day weekend is rapidly approaching. Fine, it’s slowly approaching, but in a real estate world where transactions typically close 30-60 days after contract acceptance, time is indeed of the essence.
January is typically a slow month, but as our nascent recovery plods along, I’m seeing an abnormal amount of buyer activity for this usually slow month. We’ve been blessed with some fine winter weather over the past couple weeks, and the lack of crippling snow (can’t say the same for you, Berrien County) has enabled buyers unfettered access to the treasure that is Lake Geneva real estate. While I normally hate it when Realtors talk about how busy they are (one Realtor called me last week at like 7 pm on a Sunday to leave this voicemail “I’m still out showing properties with buyers…” ugh), the unmistakable reality is that buyer activity is on the rise. I’ve been entertaining, or annoying, several customers both during the week and on weekends, which is uncommon during a Lake Geneva January.
The increased buyer traffic is not yet represented in pending statistics, even though there are plenty of offers floating around right now. Buyers seem to be aware that January can be the best month to negotiate a deal here, and there’s a sense that seller confidence will be increasing as we inch closer to summer. Remember, as a buyer, seller apathy is your closest, dearest, most beloved friend. Seller confidence? Well that’s about as welcome as seeing Tiger Tail beach littered with dead snook.
If the inventory increases, as I fully suspect it will over the next 30 days, I have a pretty strong feeling that the new list prices will not be as aggressive as buyers are hoping for. There have been several properties that were on the market last summer that have been relisted again this month, and the prices appear to be holding fairly steady. That seller stubbornness isn’t a good sign for buyers, even though there are plenty of deals that do exist. So where are these deals? If I had to place a very tight electrified wire around the individual market that represents the best long term value right now, I’d tie it around the entry level lakefront market (lakefront priced below $2MM) and the lake access market priced under $500k. More specifically, the lake access market as it consists of under-improved properties in rarefied locations. There are also several beautiful properties in desirable locations priced under $900k that have been sitting on the market for quite some time and would appear ripe for the picking.
I’m available this weekend, and every weekend hereafter. I can’t wait to show you around this market, and point out true value, while helping guide you away from the overpriced options in our market here. My brief hiatus to the freezing cold south is behind me, and all I see when I close my eyes is a bright blue sky, with the strikingly clear water of Geneva spanning in front of me. I also see white piers and sailboats, and can feel the sun on my puffy face, but that’s just me. With any luck and a little motivation, you’ll be living that scene this summer, not just imagining it.