Blog : New Listings

Lake Geneva Lakefront Update

Lake Geneva Lakefront Update

Perception is an interesting thing.  For instance, when I’m in front of a mirror with no one around me, I think that things are looking pretty good. When I hang out with certain friends who are more un-fit than I am, I feel pretty good about this, too. But then when I spend time with friends who are extremely fit I think that I shouldn’t spend so much time out in public.  Depending on where I am and who I’m around, things just seem different. The market is like this, without all the shame. If you took a boat ride around the lake this weekend, as I suspect you’ll do, you might think you’re noticing lots of lakefront homes for sale. In fact, you’ll see many with my name on them and you’ll think to yourself that this cannot be good. You’ll think it’s good for me, but then you’ll think that it must also be bad for me, because of so much unsold inventory and so many sellers leaking patience like the back left tire in my fishing truck that has not one, but two screws stuck into it.

But just like my solo mirror perception, your perception of the lake would be wrong. Dead wrong. In fact, there are just 23 single family homes for sale on the lake, including one in the South Shore Club. There are others, homes that aren’t quite lakefront but feel like lakefront- the chief example being my listing for $1.295MM on South Lakeshore Drive. There’s a Congress Club listing playing like lakefront, and a new listing on Sybil that I didn’t think would be valued quite so high (no slip for $1.295MM). But the lakefront itself, it’s limited. There are two lakefront lots available, my listing in Loramoor that you’re only going to be able to resist for so long, and a big property on Black Point.

The activity on the lake has been spotty this year, but that should be expected given the low inventory. There are the three lakefronts that I sold in June, and now there are two more than I have fresh contracts on. The large lakefront property known as Pikewood on North Lakeshore Drive ($4.295MM) is under contract now, as is my beautiful listing at 1014 South Lakeshore Drive ($7.95MM). Of course fresh contracts are not sold properties, but it’s a pretty important step in the closing process. There’s another new contract on a large lakefront property in Fontana that isn’t currently on market. If you look at these sales, it proves there is liquidity in the upper reaches of our market, if only you’ll be patient enough for it to arrive.

There’s another new contract, that on a new listing in Geneva Bay Estates for $2.85MM. I showed this home last week, and while it was a nice home it wouldn’t have blown your mind.  It went under contract so quickly in part because of the market’s newfound desire to be close to town. Downtown Lake Geneva used to be a poison of sorts, and now it’s as a bowl of sweet honey set outside on a hot summer day and we, the bees.  New inventory should be coming to market in the coming weeks, not because I have any secret insider way of knowing this (I do), but because it’s bound to happen. Sellers will notice this lack of inventory and if they’re considering a move up or down in this market, they’ll look for opportunities. Speaking of moving up, there’s a new listing at $16.45MM on Snake Road. What a beautiful property this is, but beautiful alone doesn’t convince someone to part with $16MM (I’m assuming a slight discount off ask).  I’ll be very interested to see if the market can produce a buyer in this strata. I’m guessing it won’t happen.

For now, enjoy the weekend. Be safe. Don’t tow your kids on tubs during the middle of the day on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Just don’t do it. If you go out for the fireworks, don’t boat drunk. If you light fireworks, don’t blow off part of your hand. That’s a terrible way to celebrate our Independence.

South Shore Club Lot

South Shore Club Lot

Increasingly, buyers build what they want, where they want, oblivious, either ignorantly or happily so, to the fact that their build is pricing them right out of the market they’ve chosen. This happens on the lake quite often, but it doesn’t matter. If you’re a lakefront buyer and you wish to build a $12MM home that you might someday wish to sell, it might not matter that you’ll only get $8MM for your home.  There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal on this topic, and to spare you the click, it basically explained that if the super rich want a $2MM workout room, or a $1MM master bath, then that’s what the super rich get. In the same way, wealthy folks might buy a yacht for $20MM that they’ll someday trade in for $7MM, assuming they’ve kept good care of it.  This is why the super rich can do what they please; because it just doesn’t matter.

But when you tear down a home in Cedar Point that you paid $300k for, this should be something we first think about. If $300k is the land basis, that’s fine, assuming you’re on the parkway or somewhere otherwise special. If you’re in the back of Cedar Point, that’s nice, but that’s not a location that I’d like to cement $300k in land cost.  Then, with $300k locked, you build the home for another $400k. It’s a nice enough home, after all, and those marble counters aren’t free.  When the house is done your neighbors gather and everyone gushes. They might not have done that black tin ceiling in the kitchen with those red accent walls, but still, they applaud your remarkable, or at least memorable, sense of style. You’re proud, but you’re also $700k into your home, so when you come to me to sell it I’ll get to deliver the news: No one feels like paying over $500k for a far off water home in Cedar Point.

This is why we have to be smart, and we have to be aware of our surroundings. The South Shore Club might have a higher price point than most associations around the lake, but the theory remains. Take into consideration your surroundings and build accordingly.  When I was selling the vacant lots in here like so many free hotcakes, some existing owners were none too pleased. Why would I undercut the market like that? How dare I! But what they didn’t realize was that the market dictated those vacant lot prices based on the ability to resell the built inventory.  When I sold a built home near the pool for $1.8MM, how could the lot next door be worth much more than $500k? If the home cost $1.2-1.6MM to build, the vacant lot couldn’t really be worth $1MM anymore. The market set the prices and we responded accordingly. The result was a market that has since benefited tremendously from market based pricing.

Today, I have another vacant lot in the South Shore Club coming to market. It’ll be available next week, but because you’re smart and aware, you know about it today. The lot will be priced at $649k, and it’ll be the only lot available in the South Shore Club. Because it’s the only lot available, some owners would like to think the lot could be worth $1MM. It’s the only one available! If you want to play ball in this stadium, this is the price you’ll pay! If you can’t afford it, look somewhere else! These are the utterings of sellers who don’t understand markets. These are the words of sellers who would rather price something at an unattainable level because they have failed to separate their intense love of their own property with the actual conditions affecting their property.  I don’t like sellers like that, but I like sellers like this one in the South Shore Club, because our pricing, even when offering something that is otherwise unattainable, makes complete market sense.

So there you have it, the South Shore Club, back in play. If you thought you missed it, you didn’t. Get in now. You could buy some existing house in the South Shore Club, sure, in some boring location with some odd features and strange this mingled with absurd that, or you could buy this lot and make your own retreat.  If you love huge master suites, go for it. If you need a dedicated ping pong room, who am I to argue? If your wife needs a quilting room because she quilts, so does mine! Once, for a few minutes.  Whatever your aim, bring it here. To the South Shore Club, where I’m offering you a mulligan.

New Ideas

New Ideas

I can’t imagine a life where I am forced to sell terrible real estate. Real estate itself, the business, is bad enough, but if I were forced to sell things that were ugly or otherwise horrible, I shudder to think of that life.  Somewhere, in some town, right now, a Realtor is waking up to his schedule. He has six showings today, all properties in the $90k range, because $100k is just too much. If he’s lucky today and he sells one, in two months time, after working through the inspection issues and considering the lender hangups, he’ll close on that $88k sale. If things go well, he’ll make a paycheck of $2112. Then he’ll split that gross with his office, and he’ll walk away with $1372.80. They won’t round up. He’ll pay taxes on the income and when all is said and done, he’ll have a little change in his pocket for some of that first morning, before the check is spent and he’s hunting down the next one. This is real estate in America.

So yes, I’m lucky. I’m fortunate to have a client base that owns some of the most amazing lake properties here, which are some of the most amazing lake properties anywhere. I have buyers that count on me to guide them through this inventory, and I have other buyers that I haven’t met yet who are reading this and should, as of pretty much right now,  make an introduction so I can help fix their summer. But in this mix of lakefront and lake access properties there are other things that I do as well. Not things that I do often, nor things that I do particularly well, but other things. That’s why I brought over another agent to work with me on these other sorts of properties that haven’t, until now, been right for me. Vicki Hansen is my new licensed assistant, and she’s here to help with the condo buyers and listing projects that I’ve previously been poorly servicing.  She’s nice, so if you’d always thought about working with me but then thought, sheesh, this guy seems like a super huge jerk, then email me anyway and I’ll let Vicki work with you.

With the addition of Vicki I’ve been able to add some off-water inventory that I find interesting.  One such property just came to market yesterday, and it’s in the picture above. It’s called Simera, which means something, though what exactly I’m not sure. It’s a modern retreat overlooking the hills south of  the lake, and it’s an absolutely dynamite house.  A decade ago I wouldn’t have liked this house, I admit it. I would have thought it to be too modern, too unsymmetrical, too something else. But now I’m enamored with it, and Dwell magazine agrees. It’s a house that was designed by its owner, who is also a well known architect. It’s a new house nestled in between two original silos, and in that, there is the mix of old and new, of conventional and modern. Of form and function. At $625k, it’s not expensive.  It’s a country property that’s just a few minutes to the lake, so someone could have their country retreat, with fields of wheat and beans waving in the distance, but still make a quick jaunt to the Lake Geneva Yacht Club for Friday fish fry. It’s both things, and it’s worth a look.

Below, another new listing. This of a vintage four square in downtown Lake Geneva. The Maple Park District is just off the lake, and it’s home to many of these original Lake Geneva structures. This one is a brick fortress, with original details and finishes, updated with new this and that over the years. There’s a robust lake view, an easy saunter to town for morning coffee or evening appetizers.  It’s a home for those who love vintage things, who find peace in the age of it all. It’s an exciting location, near town and across from the lake, but the perennial gardens that the owner has nurtured over the years has left this place feeling like an oasis in the middle of an otherwise bustling resort town. Consider this property at $699k to be a way to delve into our scene without completely breaking the bank.

976 Main Street

Below, something else. Something more affordable. This four bedroom home on Jewell Drive is just up the street from Pier 290 in Williams Bay. It’s not fancy. It doesn’t have dedicated lake access. But it’s newer and nice and $289k, and you can walk to dinner and walk to the boat and walk to town and then, when you think you’re done for the day, you can walk somewhere else. It’s close to everything in the Bay, and that used to mean very little. But now,  with the addition of Pier 290, you can walk there, and you can hang out there, and that place can essentially function as your lake access.  This is an easy house, with three finished levels, a private back yard deck, and that convenient access to all lake things. If you have friends in the Loch Vista Club, Oakwood Estates, or Summer Haven,  that’s good, because this is wedged in between all of those associations and you can be close to those friends, without being on top of them.

Jewell Drive Williams Bay

 

Below, another interesting bit. This property is just $549k, offering 5 acres at Black Point Farms. It’s super close to the lake, but possesses no dedicated lake access. The Owl Tavern is close, with their smoked meats both delicious and tempting. The house is large, the property ample, the opportunities endless. That’s not entirely true. There are ends to these possibilities. For instance, if you wished to open a Bed and Breakfast here, I could not help you with that.  Otherwise, the opportunities for someone searching for a lake house that offers up plenty of room to breathe, those are endless here. It’s as these others, different but close, easy to join in on the lake fun but at the end of a lake based day there is a quiet retreat here waiting for you. Five rolling acres worth on Maple Ridge Road.

Maple Ridge Road Home For Sale

These are some of the properties we’ve been bringing to market of late, and as you can see, they’re varied, they’re interesting, and they’re all available for summer 2016. The thing about summer 2016 is that it’s right around the corner. Lurking, sort of, but really just standing there in plain sight. There’s no secret to this arrival. There’s no trick to understanding what’s about to happen. It’s just another summer in a lifetime of summers, but it’s the first summer that you can fix. If you’re reading this from a desk and you’re looking forward to brunch tomorrow morning, then your life makes me exceptionally sad.  Any of these homes can fix that, and I’m here to help.

Loramoor Lakefront For Sale

Loramoor Lakefront For Sale

My kids like to make time-lapse videos. Some people make time lapse videos over the course of an entire day. The sun comes up, quickly, then it moves across the sky, quickly, and then it sets, quickly. It’s a full day, quickly. My kids don’t make time-lapse videos like that. They make ones that last a few seconds, that feature them doing such interesting things as standing still, or sitting at the island counter. Their videos are terrible. I’d like to see a time-lapse video of the lakefront on Geneva, say, over the period of the last 20 years. It would be fun to go back 100 years, but also very depressing, as grand old homes were razed to make room for subdivisions and associations. If we did have that 20 year video, we’d see new construction abound. All varieties, some small and some large, others monstrous. We’d see large homes wedged next to small homes, and small homes delicately crammed next to large homes. We’d see all sorts of things, and in the haphazard nature of it all we’d see uniformity.

LORAMOOR AERIAL

The magic of Geneva is found in this mix. Old and new, small and large, alternating along the shoreline. But one thing is certain- if we had our druthers, we’d position like kind homes next to each other. We’d have sections of the lake where estates rule the day, and we have that on Snake Road. We’d have areas where large lots rule, with large homes and estately prices, and we have that on Basswood and North Shore Drive.  We’d also have a tidy, dead end lane where large lakefront homes are spaced well and appropriately, where one new home is not out of place next to another.  We have that in Loramoor, and today, you have an opportunity to join that most exclusive lane. Enter Loramoor Lot 7, the obvious solution for any house hunt that finds a buyer seeking new construction in the $4MM or less price range.

I sold this lot a year ago. There’s no secret in that. I sold these 110 level front feel to a buyer who simply couldn’t find what they desired in our existing home market.  We have a noticeable absence of quality homes in the $3-4MM price range. We have plenty of nice properties, terrific lots with old, bad houses, or terrific houses on sub-standard lots. In this parcel, the buyer found what they wanted in the existing vacant land, and knew they could build the exact lake house that would scratch all of their weekend itches.  At 1.43 acres in size, the lot is larger than similar properties that have sold in the last few years as tear downs, and since it was already vacant there would be no added cost involved with deconstructing an existing home. The property was perfect, and unlike others in this range, it is surrounded by ample homes of newer birthdates, very obviously a secure location to add value in a new build. Compare this to a vacant lot in the $2MM price range that’s located next to smaller, lesser priced properties. It makes more sense to have a $3.75MM house next to other houses of equal or greater value and here, in Loramoor, we have that.

 

Loramoor Lakefront Parcel

 

The buyer set about permitting and planning, but when a childhood home was available for purchase, the pull of that powerful nostalgia was too much to resist. The Lake Geneva dream would have to wait, and it’s for that reason that I offer you this wonderful parcel for $2.34MM, available today and ready to build your own dream home on without delay.  The owner has been working with Scott Lowell to design the perfect lake house, and to the right buyer we can include those plans. A sneak peak of the elevation is above, and while you’d be well served to build this home on this beautiful lakefront parcel, you’re free to design your own if you so desire.

 

Loramoor Survey Shot

 

You can buy 100′ lakefront lots on this lake with some routine between $1.9MM and $2.5MM. These lots will host older, lesser homes, and if you like the older home and intend solely to remodel it, then you’ll be making a wise decision. But all too often these older homes are sold and torn down, and in that we must consider our surroundings. If you build a $2MM home on a $2MM lot, and you’re surrounded by $2MM built homes, do you suppose that’s usually a terrific idea? Of course not.  There’s safety in building in a  neighborhood with a proven tendency to support your target value, and that’s why this Loramoor lot is better than the others in this price range. There is no association immediately adjacent, no shared driveway, no sloped frontage or rough landscaping. There is only a beautiful canvas, grassed and treed and ready to host your lakefront vision. At $2.34MM,  there’s value here, and if you’re a buyer in the $4MM range you owe it to yourself to consider this parcel as your first, and finest option.

Because you’re super smart and reading this blog, you know about this property before the rest of the market does. It’ll be available to the masses next week, but in the mean time, I’m happy to show it this weekend should you desire. dave@genevalakefrontrealty.com