The castle was built using 6000 yards of concrete, give or take. It’s one of only a very small handful of true castles that exist in the entire state of Wisconsin. Can you believe it? Me neither. But that’s what the listing says, or at least something like that, and those two facts are aimed at somehow striking your heart strings in just the right way so as to create a most compelling chord. I read the description, and looked at the price of three million dollars, and thought that if someone were to buy that house that I’d just throw in the towel and take up a position at the local Starbucks where my indifferent personality will likely get me fired. Even so.
It’s not that a castle isn’t somehow cool, even though it isn’t, it’s just that a three million dollar castle in an area that is rife with sixty thousand dollar cabins, most of which lack plumbing even if they are built by the Amish, doesn’t sound like a good idea for anyone. And that brings us to this. It’s about pricing, and it’s about value, and it’s about the desire to find a vacation home that suits your high end design expectations while still following the rules that your financial sensibility can stomach. It’s about the concept of buying the biggest house on the block.
There are plenty of reasons that lead me to believe that the largest Lake Geneva listing at the moment- one around $11MM- will someday sell. It might sell now, it might sell later, it might sell several months or years from now, but sell it will. This property, if it prints close to eleven, won’t by any means be the most valuable property on Geneva Lake. Not by a long shot. Nor will it be the largest one time investment in a purchase here, as the build nearest Alta Vista proves that eleven million is a number that gets you some nice things but not all of the nice things. We know that money can’t buy happiness but we’re all aware that money can by Waterworks faucets, and there isn’t anyone alive that can’t be made happy by a shiny bunch of those.
The property at eleven million would be a high point in the market, yes, but it wouldn’t be the highest. It would be an expensive property surrounded by expensive properties on a lake chock full of expensive properties. It would be a tall tree, yes, but this is a Redwood forest and mostly all of the trees, even the little ones, are tall enough. The difference between our eleven million dollar castle and the three million dollar castle in a land far from here is that one sale will be a pleasant surprise and the other would be a direct current shock. And that begs this, why buy a home where your home is the only such home?
You can find fancy homes anywhere. Even in the worst places there are fancy homes. There is one nice home on mostly every improved shoreline that surrounds just about any lake. We’ve all seen these sorts of things. A block in Arlington Heights where all the homes were built in the 50s excepting the one built in 2005 that has a swimming pool on the roof and a helipad over the garage. It happens. Or the guy who still has the nice house in Detroit. Pity. Or the one super great house built at a cost of three million dollars on Bangs Lake. It might have happened. These sorts of real estate fancies make some sense to the owners who carry them out, but do these out of place indulgences make any lasting sense? The question needn’t be answered in print.
We know the allure of Geneva Lake. We know the natural beauty that makes it unique amongst a field of veritable mud puddle contenders. We know the history and the rest of the past and we know the present and we can guess the future. But what makes it a most unique market is the preponderance of upper bracket value. To have a lake ringed with homes where three million dollars is a normal expectation and not a far flung snicker inducing dream, well, that’s the magic here. To be secure in value is a gift, and if we’re in Geneva, it’s the gift that just keeps on giving.