Blog : Geneva Lake

Geneva Lakefront Market Update

Geneva Lakefront Market Update

I almost bought a car in December. It was late December. The snow was falling and it was cold and it had been Christmas but it wasn’t yet the new year. I drove to the dealership, took a ride in the car that I was thinking of buying, and then sat in the chair across from the salesman for what felt like two hours. It felt that way because it was that way, and I sat and thought and looked around and thought some more. I wasn’t sure what to do.  The deal was in place, the trade on my car negotiated, the new vehicle ready and able and if I just said yes I would have driven it home. My children would have looked it over with great admiration, and my wife would have told me how superficial and horrible I was. Things were so close.

But I couldn’t do it, not then, and not in the days since, because I have commitment problems as it relates to cars. I dislike purchases that depreciate rapidly, which is also why I’m a solid $30  chicken dinner guy even when I kind of want the $62 ribeye. I drove from that car dealer and emailed the salesman the next day to work on a few final tweaks of our possible deal. The car, I was told, had sold.  I spend hours, no days, weeks contemplating most purchases, no matter how seemingly trivial they might be.  Although I am an alpha consumer, I’m reluctant.

This is a fine way to be, assuming you don’t want to secure something that might be fleeting. Just a week ago I wrote a bit on the state of the lakefront market. I was considering the pending sales on the lake and the market reaction to new inventory that had been slowly trickling on. My theory was that a market can be better gauged by the reaction, either swift or slow, to new inventory than it can be by the absorption of the old inventory. Since then, two things have occurred that have cemented my opinion of this market.

I listed that small lakefront with 60′ of level frontage a couple of weeks ago. Within a week, I had it under contract.  Last week, an odd lakefront came to market in the mid $3s, and it didn’t even last a week before a buyer put it under contract. These are the two newest lakefront additions, both unique in their own way, both under contract within mere days of listing. If you’re wondering about the state of our lakefront market,  these sales should help you understand just what you’re up against.

There are motivated buyers aplenty. More now than I think I can ever remember. There are buyers for entry level and buyers for large estates. There are buyers for land and buyers for finish, there are those who want to find value and those who just want to find a shiny marble shower. The market has plenty of matches, we just need some kindling. If you’re a buyer who, like me, finds it difficult to make a decision in any reasonable amount of time, this market is not going to be easy for you. But if you’re a buyer who knows what you want, and you trust your agent (that’s me) to guide you to lasting value, then it’s time to act. Inventory will be coming to market, but you need to get early eyes on it if you’re going to have a shot. Want to know what’s going on before the rest of the market?  Tell me what you’re looking for and you’ll be in the know before some automated MLS feed spits the listing your way.

New Geneva Lakefront Listing

New Geneva Lakefront Listing

The thing about entry level lakefront is that it’s entry level lakefront. It’s not fancy. If it were fancy, it wouldn’t be entry level.  Entry level exists in increasingly fewer locations on Geneva Lake, due largely to the fact that often times buyers of entry level lakefronts transform those once modest, affordable homes, into something entirely different.  If you’re a buyer for an entry level lakefront, this generally means you’re on the hunt for something priced below $1.5MM. In that segment, there are things you can expect but mostly things you shouldn’t expect. Like garages and level frontage. Entry level buyers rarely have a chance to buy those.

W3298 Park Drive in Linn Township isn’t going to win any design competitions. It’s a nice house, with nice enough things, but fancy it is not. There’s a concrete driveway, fresh landscaping, and a beautiful lakeside paver patio. There’s a terrific H-slip pier, traditional and sturdy. There’s some new siding and a newer-ish kitchen and three bedrooms and two baths. There’s plenty to like. But the rare bits are not those bedrooms or the bathrooms or the stack washer/dryer in the hallway closet. The rare bit, if we’re looking for entry level lakefront, is the 60 feet of dead level frontage and the existence of a two car garage. These are, in the context of entry level lakefront homes, among the most rare amenities.

The house should sell rather quickly in this current market. The renovation of this house, should a buyer choose to improve upon what it is today, would be fairly painless. It’s a simple house without a lot of moving parts. The layout is normal, which, if you’ve looked at entry level lakefront homes for some amount of time, you’ll recognize as being unique for its plainness. There are no spiral staircases here. There are no rooms that you’re not sure what to do with. There’s nothing here that doesn’t make sense. It’s just a house with a big garage and a completely level lot, with 60 feet touching Geneva Lake. The views, as an aside, are among the best on this lake. Facing towards the City of Lake Geneva, the lake here is wide and round, lovely.

If you’d like to tour this home, just let me know. But if you do want to see it, you should probably do so sooner rather than later.

Geneva Won’t Ice Up

Geneva Won’t Ice Up

I must  apologize for being so preoccupied over recent days. It was one week ago today when I glanced at the Lake Geneva Regional News and first learned that the Walworth Town Planning Commission had voted 5-0 to approve a conceptual development plan that would turn the rural town of Walworth into a congested extension Shodeen Development Group’s hometown in Kane County. The vote was taken without a single peep of community involvement, without a single shred of evidence that shows how egregious the initial mistake was, and without a single concern for upholding the zoning laws of this county. I’ve been fighting it ever since, and the portion of my brain that thinks of things to write about has been as clogged as those proposed streets.  Please continue to share the Ruining of Walworth post with your friends and family and anyone who is concerned about the future of Walworth County. For now, this:

Geneva Lake isn’t going to freeze this year. Even though it is still meteorological fall and not at all yet real winter, it’s late enough in December that the ruling is in. No ice this winter. Geneva Bay might freeze during some cold snap that will assuredly come in January or February, and Williams Bay may ice up to Gage Marine, but the vast majority of this lake will not see ice over this winter. You can carve that in stone, though it would be easier to carve it in ice, but as I mentioned, there won’t be any of that lying around.

Geneva has gone iceless a few other times. The 2001-2002 winter never brought us ice.  1997-1998 was an El Nino winter, and we didn’t freeze then, either.  1997 wasn’t that long ago, but I can’t remember a bit of it. I sold real estate that winter, and in the years before this blog and before any pattern of sales, I’d sit in my office and wonder what it was I should do. I wore a shirt and tie then, I tried so hard. There was a boutique next to my office then, and I figured that the men would want something to do while their wives and girlfriends shopped for trinkets. So I spray painted a big piece of plywood with:  “BEARS GAME ON INSIDE”. No one ever came in to watch, and it’s a good thing they didn’t, because my television was an old tube TV and the reception was scratchy. How embarrassing that entire winter was, both for me, and for ice.

The 2001-2002 winter is one that I can’t remember, either. I was recently married then, and 9-11 had just occurred and left us preoccupied with thoughts of war and revenge, with scenes of burning buildings and horror. I don’t remember doing anything special that winter, though I do know I went on my honeymoon to Hawaii in September and then in December I surprised my new wife with a vacation to Florida. I know now that I completely ruined any positive response from any spontaneous vacation from then until now, and from now until I die. You can’t take your new wife on vacation in September and then take her again in December, because by February she’s disappointed in you because you didn’t take her to Fiji. This was my error that winter, and the lake never froze.

This winter, it’s not going to freeze either.  The good that comes from this is tangible. There will be far more fish in the lake next summer. The ice fishermen, if not able to drill holes and sit on upside down buckets, won’t be cleaning out hundreds of thousands of panfish as they would in a normal, frozen winter. They won’t be jigging for lake trout and harvesting 100 or more over a winter season. There will be far more fish next year, because the fish will rest this winter, unmolested and free of the baited hook.  As there will be no action on the lake this winter, less trash will end up in the lake. Nothing will get lost in the snow and melt into the lake in early April. The lake will be free of trash and free of fishermen and next summer we’ll be swimming far earlier than normal.

The bad that comes from this is also tangible. Though Geneva doesn’t struggle with weed issues like Delavan and every other lake in the area, it does have seaweed, because it’s a lake. Without ice and snow cover, light reaches those weed beds all winter, and the growth of those weeds never entirely ceases. A thick cover of ice and snow blocks the light, and in a heavy cover winter the seaweed will die, and it will die hard. This year, it won’t, so next summer we’ll be swimming earlier, surrounded by more fish, but also with a few more weeds to contend with.

I’ll look back at this winter in another decade, and I’ll hopefully remember that the ice never came. With any luck, I’ll also remember this winter as the start of when Walworth County took back control of its land, and preserved its farming heritage while beating back the developer’s plow. I hope and pray I can remember this winter fondly.