It almost feels unnecessary to write a year end update about the South Shore Club. I know I’ve written about it often, steadily, so much that it might be too much. But it can’t be too much, because there hasn’t been a bigger success story in the entire Lake Geneva vacation home market. This is the success story of 2014, and this is a change in fortunes that has to be acknowledged.
Going into 2014, I saw possible inventory issues at the SSC. I envisioned a scenario where there may be as many as six built homes coming to market there, and that scared me a bit. The SSC had never proven particularly adept at absorbing this much inventory in a decade, let alone a single year. The fears were real, and I recommended that sellers be defensive and do their best to undercut their competition in hopes of selling first. Some followed that lead, and in February I printed a sale on East Lakeside for $1.875MM. Then, a direct deal came in for a home on Lakeside that I had listed the prior season, and two of the possible bits of inventory were cleared from market. Another possible listing didn’t ever hit the open market, as the seller of that particular home chose to stay put and enjoy their SSC home. Three down, three to go.
Forest Hill had a spec home for sale, and when summer came that home sold. Around that time another home on Forest Hill hit the market and sold within 6 weeks. Another one down. Four sales. Spring also brought a new lakefront in the Club to market, one right smack-dab up front, and that one sold in relatively short order for $3.591MM. Five sales. During this entire time the lots were selling, and I was selling them like hotcakes at the county fair, except that I sold more of them and I didn’t have to wear an apron. Lot 20 sold, then lot 19. Then lot 31, then lot 27 sold and lot 20 sold again, then lot 32 sold. In 2013 I sold a lot on Forest Hill for $360k. In the fall of 2014 I sold the last lot on Forest Hill for $550k. The vacant land inventory was now cleared from the club, with no developer owned lots remaining. Momentum. Late in December, a private transaction of an SSC vacant lot printed at $1.2MM, which is the highest price paid for a vacant lot in the club since forever ago.
In November, I listed a foreclosure on East Lakeside. Then in December, I sold that foreclosure for $2.15MM. Six sales. The inventory I feared would drag on the market instead provided fuel for the market resurgence that had begun way back in 2012 when I took over the marketing of the club and sold two homes. The year has now ended, and the South Shore Club could not have had a better year if it tried. All vacant land inventory, sold. All but one of the available homes in the Club, sold. Price ranges remain intact, those target ranges that I speculated way back in 2012 would become the norm for the SSC. Market perception of the Club has completely shifted, and calls are now trickling in from buyers that would love to be in the SSC, rather than the calls I received two years ago that were largely from sellers wishing to move out of the club. The market shift is complete, and the South Shore Club had the brightest 2014 of any individual market at Lake Geneva.
What’s next? Well, that depends. Will the owners that are now building (four homes under construction in the club as we speak, with another scheduled for spring) stay put? Will they enjoy their creations and live this lakeside lifestyle that the SSC offers? Or will some see the profit on the table and be tempted to sell? I think we’ll see a mix of that, as most of the new ownership is excited to see just how this lake-living is done. There will be new inventory this year, as owners who may wish to make a move will see this newfound market optimism and take advantage of it. I see no possible foreclosures in the works in the club, which is the first time in several years that I haven’t been eyeing at least one trouble spot. The ownership is now strong, interested, and the SSC should be able to make the next step forward and test the momentum with price gains.
For all the activity in the club, outside of the vacant land prices rising during 2014, there has yet to be built home appreciation. That’s the next goal for the SSC, to take this market strength and test it with printed appreciation, not just passive equity gains. I expect that’ll happen this year, as Geneva is a market that is highly motivated by scarcity. If nothing else comes to market in the Club for a while, expect that next new offering to be met with a lot of market enthusiasm. The South Shore Club is back, and it’s absolutely better than ever. As the guy at the helm during this momentum swing, I’m the South Shore Club agent, and I’m the guy to contact if you’d like to be kept in the loop on new inventory changes here. Just don’t tell me you want to buy the next foreclosure here, because we both might be too old by then to enjoy the process.