While 2008 originally picked the fight, it was 2009 who brought the foreclosure battle to the shores of Geneva Lake. Prior to 2009, foreclosures and the Lake Geneva vacation water were a lot like Mario Batali and restraint. Like the oil that floats on top of the Chain O’Lakes water (sorry Chain fans, I just had to). Before 2009, not only was it unreasonable to look for foreclosures in the vacation market here, it was a downright waste of time. Sure Geneva National had a significant number of foreclosures back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but those foreclosure issues never spilled over into the broader market here. Last year, all that anti-foreclosure elitism looked a bit silly, as even the mighty lakefront market gave in with a single foreclosure.
Nationally, foreclosures dominated the marketplace, and provided the single greatest impetus for our nationwide decline in valuations. Geneva wasn’t immune, though we fared remarkably well when viewed against other resort communities. Much of our weakness here was limited to select markets, and all of the foreclosures in our vacation home market didn’t scar our market as much as some might think. Geneva National experienced a large handful of foreclosures in 2009, but given the size of the development, the foreclosure total (I’d guess it was somewhere around a dozen) looks aggressively tame. Abbey Springs hosted a couple foreclosures, but again, given the size of the development (more than 500 units), the foreclosure activity is a mere drop in our giant golden bucket.
Fontana’s Country Club Estates saw more foreclosure activity than any other lake access association, and the exact reason as to why is a mystery to me. Even so, the handful of foreclosures and short sales in this development were not representative of the broader market, and had only a slight impact on pricing. Expect more foreclosures in Country Club during 2010, but I’d guess the year end total won’t exceed more than a half dozen.
2010 looks to be a year where foreclosure and REO listing activity will be on the rise, even as the broader market shows some more measurable signs of recovery. Even at this young date, we have possible foreclosures in Country Club, Cedar Point Park, Oak Shores (possibly…), Buena Vista, and Abbey Ridge. Geneva National will almost certainly see some more foreclosure activity, as will Abbey Springs. The foreclosures will not be in large enough numbers to severely impact pricing, but they will provide buyers an opportunity to take advantage of the misfortune of others. (Sorry folks, capitalism can be a bit cruel).
To buyers, I have one bit of advice. If you’re looking for a foreclosure bargain in Lake Geneva, you NEED to email me and tell me what you’re looking for. I capitalized need, and if you’re read this blog for a while, you know that I rarely, if ever, capitalize a word. After all, I’m not The Oprah, and this isn’t twitter… I cannot read your mind, so unless you expressly tell me that you’re looking for foreclosure values in this market, you’re probably going to find out about them too late. I wrote a piece last week about the foreclosure at Abbey Hill. That property sold the day I wrote the post. If you had contacted me a month ago, and asked to be made aware of any new REO listings, you would have known about that listing a full week before I wrote about it on this site. If REO bargains in the Lake Geneva market interest you, take a minute and email me to let me know that. Once you email me, I’ll be able to update you any REO activity within moments of those properties hitting the market. Most interesting is a potential foreclosure at Buena Vista. The note on the property is low, and I can guarantee that the property will sell within hours of it hitting the market, and it will sell for a price that is significantly under market value.
Foreclosures during 2010 will find a way to increase, even as the market as a whole registers some form of a rebound. I’ll write more about what I see for the national market next week, but as of now, I see the Lake Geneva market gaining in strength in spite of a continuance of foreclosure activity on a fairly small scale. Sellers would do well to pay attention to foreclosures and adjust prices as necessary, and buyers would do well to contact me so that we can circle the carcass like those vultures that picked at that little cave where Old Yeller was stashed after he was attacked by those nasty boars.