Blog : Harvard Club

Fontana Lake Access Market Review

Fontana Lake Access Market Review

In Fontana, there is a question. Country Club Estates would have you believe that it is the king of Fontana’s lake access world, while Glenwood Springs feels the same. Which association reigns? And while they’re battling, Indian Hills asks for merely consideration in the conversation.  Fontana, unlike Williams Bay, has three large lake access associations, four if you count Brookwood, which I’m not going to for no other reason than I don’t feel like it. Buena Vista should be included, but Buena Vista, while large in overall size, isn’t an association that likes to turn over very often, so in a market context Buena Vista is actually quite small. No matter the association in charge, Fontana is a supremely desirable municipality with numerous lake access associations, all of which deserve your attention.

Country Club Estates tends to have good years. When the markets are down, Country Club prints volume. When the markets are up, Country Club always seems to have inventory. It’s just a good association with nice scale that buyers tend to like. The neighborhood feels interesting, owing that in large part to the hills and the winding roads and the forested yards.  Country Club printed 27 total sales (per MLS) in 2016, priced from a modest $98,500 all the way to $585k. For those who continue to think that Geneva is only a playground for the rich and richer, consider 18 of the sales in Country Club closed below $300k.  Do you get a boatslip with your purchase there? Of course not. Do you get some lush parkways and a large lakefront park? Don’t be silly. What you do get is simple lake access through a park and beach system that’s not entirely exclusive to Country Club Estates. Still, the access is good enough and buyers find Country Club to be desirable.

In part that’s because of the Fontana location, because of the harbor at the end of the road where a buyer can moor a boat, or because of Big Foot Country Club. There’s a golf course and a tennis court, and it’s close to everything else that Fontana has to offer. Of note is the absence of higher priced sales last year in Country Club. Typically, sales can print in the $700-900k range without terrible difficulty, but last year the highest MLS sale was at that $585k mark even though inventory over that mark did exist. Today there are just eight homes available per MLS, offering less that four months of inventory based on the 2016 production.

If you like Fontana and you want a boat slip with your purchase, you’d be wise to consider Glenwood Springs. Located just to the East of Country Club Estates, Glenwood offers plenty of price points and plenty of frontage.  Unique to Glenwood is the abundance of private piers that accompany off-water homes. I sold two such homes last year, one on Oakwood for $1.1MM and one on Linden for $871k. Both of those homes were off-water, but both had private piers. In addition to these homes with piers, some have slips and most have a buoy available through the association. There are two pier systems for swimming and boating, and members can walk to the sand beach that the Country Club folks use (but don’t use their pier). The association has a way about it that just feels right.

For 2016, there were just seven MLS sales in Glenwood Springs, and I was happy to have sold three of those homes.  Prices ranged from $365k for a funky cedar-y cabin, to $1.1MM for my gem on Oakwood. Today, just four homes are available per the MLS. Something to remember with Glenwood Springs- there is a “good” side and a “not as good” side, as Glenwood is bisected by South Lakeshore Drive. Both sides are fine, but I don’t need to tell you I’d rather walk to the lake with my kids and not have to cross a sometimes busy-ish road.

Indian Hills is adjacent Glenwood. The association there is nice, with a shallow but wide swath of frontage marked by a relatively ugly green fence. 2016 closed sales from $107k to $504k.  Ah, but Indian Hills is interesting because not all homes labeled “Indian Hills” have access to the private association lakefront. Of the six MLS sales last year, only three of those had access to the lakefront park and pier. Just three homes are available in the association today, including a lakefront owned by a baseball player who crushed most of my hopes and all of my dreams in game seven of the 2003 NLCS.

Working to the East, Club Unique is a nice association that didn’t have anything available during 2016, and the Harvard Club printed one sale in the fall ($510k). The Harvard Club is one of our co-op style associations, though during a showing a woman once told me, through her porch screens, that the Harvard Club is NOT a co-op. Sure thing, porch lady. But the association is sort of a co-op in that buyers receive membership stock rather than a warranty deed, and there are rules both tricky and nuanced that apply here. If you’re looking for something in the Harvard Club you should let me know, as I’ve sold three of the past four available homes there.

In my haste to tell you about the robust Country Club market, I skipped over two associations on the North Shore of Fontana. Buena Vista didn’t have a single MLS sale in 2016, cementing its position as one of our most exclusive and elusive associations. If you want to buy there, tell me. I’ll dig for you. Belvidere Park is another co-op style association in Fontana, and it’s really interesting to me. Like the Harvard Club there are rules here, but unlike the Harvard Club, Belvidere Park is serviced by all year water and sewer. The Harvard Club shuts there water off in the winter months, so unless you’re lucky to have an alternative water source, you’re not going to enjoy your winter visits all that much. Then again, the Harvard Club has a slip for every home and Belvidere Park doesn’t, so you’ll need to pick your poison.

Fontana is likely our most desirable municipality. The market respects the strides that Fontana has made over recent years to improve their lakefront and to improve their overall village aesthetic.  Having Gordy’s and Chuck’s anchor your lakefront isn’t a bad thing, and having the best beach on the lake isn’t terrible, either.  Throw in a diverse grouping of condominiums (Abbey Springs, among many others) and you have a market made for every budget. The most expensive home in Fontana was a lakefront I sold in November for $7.35MM. The least expensive was that cottage in Country Club Estates for $98,500. If you’re a buyer at any point in between, Fontana has something for you.

 

Above, the master bathroom at 434 Oakwood, in Glenwood Springs. 

 

Geneva Lake Access 2016 Market Review

Geneva Lake Access 2016 Market Review

The most economical lakefront home to sell in 2016 was an odd little house in Knollwood. $1,075,000 was the required minimum price for 50′ of frontage on Geneva Lake. Farther up the road in Knollwood, the most economical lake access home of 2016 sold for $69,000. Those two entry points won’t let us assume that Knollwood is a lower end association, because that’s not at all the case. Knollwood is a beautiful association that boasts what I believe to be the nicest large association lakefront park on this entire lake. But in 2016 if you were looking to eek onto the lake, Knollwood was in focus, and if you wanted to eek into the lake access market, you had no choice but to keep your eyes on Knollwood.  This post isn’t about Knollwood.

The lake access market had a solid 2016, though in comparison the lakefront market itself fared much better. In total, there were 77 lake access homes sold in the MLS, the most economical being the $69k Knollwood cottage, the most expensive being my off-water estate in Loramoor with 3 acres, pool, slip, large house, detached garage with studio, water feature, gated entry, etc and etc, at $1.625MM.   The lowest price paid for a home with transferrable slip was in Wooddale, that of a brick Arlington Heights-esque ranch that sold in August for $330k. The highest price someone paid for a lake access home  home without a slip was $800k in Geneva Manor. In total, 12 homes with slips or private piers sold last year. I sold four of those.  A few more with available ramps or buoys sold.   2015 recorded 68 lake access sales, so by any measure our 2016 was a fantastic year.

Of the 77 sales, five closed at $1MM or more.  In that upper bracket lake access market, some things were made obvious not because of what sold, but because of what didn’t. This year offered ample, rare inventory in that segment, with homes available in Glen Fern, Black Point, The Lindens, and Academy Estates. These homes lasted through 2016 and closed the year unsold, or expired. The inventory in these associations was in the low million range, and the availability of these homes was something that the market wouldn’t typically take for granted. A home one off the lake in the Lindens would be desirable, no matter the condition. Yet the market pushed back and these homes failed to sell. What is the takeaway from this? Well, for starters, if buyers are going off-lake in the million and over range they’re expecting something pretty special. Like the Loramoor property, with a slip and a pool and big lot and big, newer house. Or something unique like my immaculate, gem box on Oakwood that I sold in Glenwood Springs for $1.1MM. Give the buyer something unique and rare and they’ll buy it. Give them a $1.3MM fixer upper built in the 1970s and they’re going to take a pass, unless the lot is somehow so incredible that a tear down is warranted.

That 2016 sold inventory included two entry level cottages in our lakefront cooperatives. A small home in the Harvard Club sold for $510,500 and a cottage in Belvedere Park sold for $411k. The Harvard Club had a slip, but Belvedere Park has all-year municipal water and sewer service, so you can pick which one you’d rather have. Nothing sold in the Congress Club, though inventory existed there for most of the year.  Foreclosures were not common in 2016, but at least two homes did sell as REO,  though both were crappy and smaller and sub-$150k.  I don’t suspect foreclosure to play any sort of starring role in 2017 either.  Of note, 25 of the 77 sales were marked as Cash closings, which I find a bit surprising. Rates were remarkably low during 2016, and I would have expected more buyers in this range to take advantage of those rates. Instead, 1/3 opted to pay cash, which proves the strong position of many Lake Geneva buyers.

For 2017, we’re low on inventory. There are just 36 lake access homes available as of this morning. That’s a low tally, especially when you consider that seven of those are priced in excess of $1MM. Our core lake access market is the $450-750k home with a slip, and of those there are just three available.  Because of this inventory condition, the lake access market will follow the lakefront market for 2017 and find itself heavily dependent on adding quality inventory. If we can add inventory in the first quarter, we’ll have a solid year. Interest rates are rising but they aren’t rising enough to squelch the desire of city families to spend their weekends in a different state of being. Expect the lake access market to have a quality 2017, but volume will not reach 2016 levels. Much of the remaining inventory is now aged, so there is plenty of value lurking in the available homes. If you’re hunting for value, I’m happy to be your guide.

 

Lake Geneva Market Update

Lake Geneva Market Update

I have lots of brushes. I have small brushes and smaller brushes, medium ones, too. I have huge brushes, trust me, there’s no problem with my brushes. I have great brushes, the best. Other people, not so many brushes, sad. But still, these brushes of mine are varied and I store them not in a wide-mouthed jar labeled BRUSHES, THE BEST, but in my mind. These aren’t real brushes, you see, they’re just the sort of brushes that I use to paint these insights into this market. I use them as I attempt to explain what’s going on here, what you’re part of or what you’re missing out on. If you want to know about my brushes, I assure you there’s no problem. Today, let’s use the yugest brush I have. Let’s talk macro. Other agents can’t use this brush, it’s too big. Sad!

The market today is active. Across the board, active. My development loving friends will say, A HA!, but when the new development market is active that just means there’s a single house being built in that empty subdivision behind Reek School, which means there will be four homes there. Out of 35 total lots. So, no, the development lovers out there are still out of luck even though the market has reached some form of normalcy and activity is widespread. The primary home market is buzzing. A quick glance at neighborhood and towns that I don’t deal with shows an incredible amount of sales activity in the $90k to $250k range, so let’s be happy for that but let’s not be too excited because the primary market here means very little to the vacation home market.

The entry level lake access market on Geneva is performing wonderfully this year. Five of the 23 lake access homes priced under $400k are pending as of this morning. I’m sure there are others that aren’t properly labeled in the MLS. Six of the 34 lake access homes priced from $400k to $1MM are pending as well. That’s not a tremendous number of pendings in that segment, but it’s not terrible.  The market is lacking inventory of homes with boatslips in the  $450k to $850k range, so if you’re a buyer looking for something like that I feel your dissatisfaction. If you’re a seller who owns something like that, let’s talk about it. Overall, there’s a high degree of buyer activity in that range but mostly boring inventory that has been on the market for quite some time. What we could use is some new inventory in Oak Shores, Lake Geneva Club, Shore Haven, and the likes.

The co-op market on the lake has been quiet of late. There’s a single home available in the Congress Club, though that home is priced more like lakefront than association, so it’s a bit outside the bounds of what a typical co-op buyer seeking out inventory in the Harvard Club, Belvedere Park, and the Congress Club might be hoping to find. The other associations haven’t a single available property, though there may be one coming back on in Belvedere Park soonish. The Harvard Club had a private sale last year, so that’s good for them. Remember, if you’re a buyer hoping to find something in one of these clubs, you’d be wise to let me know so I can try to free something up for you. I’m the leading broker in these co-ops over the past seven years, so no one has the inside track like I do if we’re talking co-ops at Lake Geneva.

Last year at this time, the entry level lakefront market was chock full of inventory. Today, that inventory has sold off. There are just two true lakefront homes on the market under $2MM this morning, and that’s a rather shocking situation.  The lowest price lakefront is my listing for $1.475MM on Lakeview in Linn Township, that super-cute cottage owning 50 feet of frontage, a traditional H-slip canopied pier, and a rare boathouse at the water’s edge. The only other home with private frontage under $2MM is on the tippy top of Cedar Point, that listed just under $1.6MM.  This development is good news for listings like my one-off lakefront on South Lakeshore Drive listed for $1.395MM (photo above). That’s a home that plays like lakefront, but isn’t technically lakefront, though you’d be forgiven for repeatedly assuming it is. That’s a home that I feel is poised to sell really right at the moment, so a buyer looking for lakeside fun would be keen to consider that property.

The rest of the market is somewhat interesting. This morning the MLS shows just two lakefront homes pending sale, and both of those are to buyers that I’m extremely happy to represent. Both properties are on Lackey Lane, so there’s just one Lackey Lane opportunity left. The market has some offers being considered, and there are properties that are the object of much attention (my new listing at 976 South Lakeshore, for one), so I’d expect something to pop in the next month or two and we’ll see several more lakefront contracts come together. Last year the lakefront market was very slow until mid summer and then finished with a remarkable flurry that saw our lakefront sold numbers push to record highs. That’s volume, not prices, so if you’re of the “it’s too expensive already so I missed out” opinion, then you’re not looking at the right information.

With that, my brushing is complete. I will return my brushes to their storage container, which I promise you is the best. There’s no problem with my figurative brushes and their figurative storage container. The losers who suggest there’s a problem are just jealous of my many different brushes. Sad!